I'm really not one to buy into these pseudo-holidays that try make people feel that a bouquet of flowers and a trip to the spa are an adequate way to thank mothers for everything that they do or make us think that dads need yet another day to relax, watch sports, and enjoy what being a "dad" means in this culture.
It's no secret that I'd love to die and come back as a dad.
Whether it's the happy screeches and clingy love that he gets when he walks in the door, or the praise he gets for being the lone dad with all three kids at the pool, there's something about being a dad that's obviously missing from my experience as a mom.
At least beyond the twig and berries.
I don't deny that it can be tough out there for a dad, particularly those, like many, that are forced to choose between work and family. At least women have started a commentary about the challenges of working and maintaining a family presence; I just don't see it happening as much with dads.
The breadth of dad lit has just started expanding, but the level of analysis on the experience of fatherhood seems to just be scratching the surface. We buy moms a library of "What to expect" and "Happiest Baby" books and offer dad the congratulatory "super sperm" nod and hi-five.
It's certainly not because dads aren't curious about what to expect, I imagine.
So in many parenting relationship (not all, I realize), a sort of "it is how it is" emerges, with spouses and baby mamas picking up the slack while dads work (and sometimes play) for long hours.
I suppose we have society to blame for blatantly stereotyping gender roles when it comes to the parenting relationship, going back to how boys and girls are raised. Maybe it's because so many of us had physically or mentally absent fathers that we've learned from our mothers to do everything and be everything. And our husbands have learned to rely on us because they know we'll do it.
Because if we don't at least attempt to do it all, we're criticized as being a selfish mother. But If dads don't, they're often just a typical dad. And if they do, well then it's "oh look how great so and so is with his children."
Yes. They're his children. He should be great with them.
For the longest time, I perceived the fatherhood gig as being inherently easier. I realize now that it's all relative. He'd have much rather been home more. And I was so tired of seeing the screaming face of my sweet, but challenging baby that his daily existence, quite difficult as it was, seemed like a piece of cake.
I don't blame dads or even my own husband for my own difficulties with adjusting to motherhood. But I do blame how the roles of "mom" and "dad" have been defined over the years. And I do blame my own upbringing, my "sacrificial stay-at-home-mother with strong religious overtones" upbringing for my often skewed perceptions.
There's these weird set of rules that push moms and dads into our respective "corners," with judgy looks and snarky comments for those of us to decide that we're better suited on the other side of the ring.
But the beauty of this space, in the parenting blogosphere, is that we're challenging those boundaries. There are dads who are proudly stepping outside their corners and telling the stories that shake whatever stereotypes might be drilled into our heads. They're allowing us a glimpse into the "other side" - into a world where dads are depressed, or single, or stay-at-home, or aren't afraid to talk about potty training.
They're teaching me how to be a better mother, wife, and co-parent, and they're influencing how our own kids will see the role of "dad."
And they're reminding us that roles are defined by each personal situation, and not based on what society says.
Happy Father's Day!