Dad ≠ Babysitter: Normalizing Active Fathers
To the mom who’s co-parenting with the “babysitter”…
How many of you have found yourself enjoying time outside, when suddenly, someone comes up to ask where your baby is? Now, the minute you say, “He’s with his dad”, how many of you receive the look of utter disbelief?
This has always struck a nerve for me. I wish I could receive a dollar for every time this occurred – oh, how I would be rolling in dough by now.
I understand the traditional way of life – our grandparents’ generation – was for a father to be the provider and the mother to be the caretaker. But, really, people, WHEN are people going to accept that times have changed? I work the same 40+ hours a week, I pay the same bills, I have the same aspirations to make something of myself as my son’s father does – all while cooking, cleaning, and nurturing. And yet, like most other women, I’m still looked at like an alien when I’m seen outside without a baby on my hip.
The worst part about it, is the PRAISE I have to hear because Sharef is home taking care of Jayden while I’m out on my own. “Oh my goodness, WHAT AN AMAZING DAD. YOU ARE SO LUCKY.” It boggles my mind, truly. I’m lucky because the man I created life with is home… caring for that life?
Sure, I guess.
I posted a short piece regarding this on my Instagram the other day, after a coworker of mine asked me the million dollar question:
“Oh, grandma is staying with him?”
I was so glad to see how many mothers experienced the same exact issue daily. I mean, nurses, stay-at-home moms, co-parenting mothers… you name it, they were there in the comments.
Praise fathers for being stand up guys. Praise fathers for loving their child the way they do – a love that you know your child feels because you’re not always their favorite parent. Praise fathers for not allowing any mishaps with the mother stand in the way of being an active parent.
Now, I understand not everyone has blessing of having excellent father figures for their children. Things happen, people change, and hardships arise. I know mothers who do it all on their own because the father has other children he chooses to favor. I know mothers who have to scurry to find childcare every week because the father wont’ just offer. It breaks my heart, really. But, I still don’t look at those situations and think to myself, “How lucky am I to have a father that offers to babysit.” He’s just being a parent. The same overwhelmed, extra tired, nurturing parent that I am.
Honest moment? I think it’s time we accept some responsibility on why we run into some of our issues with fathers taking on more duties. No one can do it better than us, right? Daddy isn’t feeding them right, changing them right, cuddling them how WE know our baby likes.
“Just give me the baby, I’ll do it.”
Now, give me a QUARTER for every time I said that in the beginning, and I’d have made a pretty penny.
It took a lot of self-reflection for me to realize that just because he isn’t parenting how I parent, does not make his way wrong. I had to understand that just because he likes to feed then change the baby, while I insist of changing then feeding, doesn’t make it wrong. That’s what works for him and if I continued to badger him with the idea that he wasn’t doing it right, this would only lead him to being fed up and backing off.
Allowing myself to realize that we will have two different parenting techniques, but always come together when it matters most, is what has helped our bond flourish as parents. There is never a time where I step out and have to concern myself with what’s going on with the two of them. I can be completely out of service range, and know that when I return to my son, he will still be happy, smiling and healthy.
My son’s father is not a babysitter. He is, however, another nurturer, provider, caregiver and p a r e n t. He has attempted to fulfill important duties, have leisurely time, and sneak in naps all while an extremely lively baby was on his leg, looking for attention. He has gotten up for nighttime feedings, soothed a teething baby, and woken up every weekend to an energized baby at 7:00am.
Let’s begin normalizing active father figures, and stop making mothers feel like they are mystical beings for having a hands-on partner.
I want to thank him for being exactly who I always knew he would be as a father.
I will never allow someone to be surprised that Sharef is with his child. He is not my last resort, he is not my “If grandma can’t watch him.” He is not a babysitter.