I was recently creeping around Facebook as all people who are on Facebook are wont to do and noticed a lot of friends of mine were being invited to join a group that had something to do with being a dad. The group name was spelled in all caps so I figured it was worth my checking out.
I did, and as it turns out, the page was meant for DADS ONLY, like a clubhouse I might have built with my dad friends who couldn’t stand the thought that moms might come into our hangout to spread their cooties all over the place. These exclusive dads were invited to share their pictures and stories of them being a dad, whatever being a dad meant to them.
And, like all Facebook pages, there was a space for everyone to comment—a wall of words you might say. Since I’ve only been to this page one time in my life, I can only comment on the very first (and as of then, only) comment. It read: “it’s so nice to see dad’s helping out mom. I think it’s sexy.”
I damn near lost my mind. Holy Lord, is that what dads do? Are we really just helpers for mom? As shocked as I was that someone thought expressing that thought was a pat on the back for dads, what shocked me even more was how upset it made me.
But really, why shouldn’t it? As a dad I do more for my two little girls than help out mom and I know that my partner (or wife as I prefer to call her) agrees with that.
I will admit that from the simple point of view of who, over time, has done more to keep our children alive, she wins by default having evicted them from the womb and then breastfed them for the first year of their lives. But to me, there’s more to parenting than simply keeping your children alive (although when you write it out it does seem like a rather important aspect of it).
From my perspective, my wife spends more time with our children only during the time she is at home with them on parental leave. Does that make her amazing? Absolutely, but once that time is up, we are absolutely equal. Some days she helps me other days I help her. There are some things she’s better at with our kids and there are other thing I’m better at.
I took my thoughts on this matter to someone who, by just being who she was, must be considered a parenting expert—my wife, who as I mentioned above, is a mom. and a mom who I expected to back me on the equal parenting discussion.
“Am I wrong in thinking I am an equal partner in the whole child raising thing?” I asked her, not bothering to mention the Facebook page or the daddy helper comment.
“Aside from the whole pushing a baby out of your vagina I’d say you’re pretty equal.”
There’s always that. The pushing out of vagina thing. I didn’t do that. I’m never going to have done more than watch a child be born as she pushed so there’s no point in arguing I’m an equal partner in childbirth.
“OK, so we’re not equal in childbirthing, I concede that. But I do more than just ‘help out’ when it comes to raising the kids right? It’s not like I stop by at noon everyday, heat up some Zoodles then head back to the bar until the next day’s lunch, right?”
“Yes, I’d say you’re quite a deal more than that.”
So, even a woman mom, who is evidently a parent expert according to people who make statements like dad helps mom, thinks I, a dad, play a close to equal role in parenting.
I can list a few things I do that I consider parenting as opposed to helping parent: reading to my daughter before bedtime, bathing my daughter after making mud pies with her, putting a Dora the Explorer bandaid on her heel when she sees even the slightest skin blemish, I sing along to Disney movies and even make up my own lyrics for them, I cut up carrots into the smallest imaginable pieces to make sure my kids won’t choke on them, I wake up at 3 a.m. when I hear my daughter whispering she needs to go to the potty and I give out the biggest hugs imaginable when I get home from work every day.
Sure, my wife does these things too, but being a parent isn’t about one-upping one another, it’s about making sure your kids grow up feeling loved.
Of course, there’s another part to the comment that sent me into this tirade “ … I think it’s sexy.”
That I can’t disagree with. Dads are sexy.
—Photo credit: Elvert Barnes/Flickr
—Photo credit: TedsBlog/Flickr