There is something about motherhood that gives all of us pre-conceived notions about what is expected. Sadly, I do not believe this is true of fatherhood. The doting, loving, nurturing mom is the image we all have (or more realistically, the loving, nurturing, perpetually late, kinda frazzled but hopefully looking stylish mom). I don’t think we all have the same image of fatherhood. We love seeing sweet dads doting on their kiddos, or dads out alone at the park playing with the kids, but how often do you do a double take when you see this with a mom? You don’t. Fess up. You expect to see it.
We do double takes when we see things we aren’t accustomed too. Everyone knows at least one couple where the roles are reversed. Where when baby cries, dad is the first to jump up, or dad is the one scoping out all the schools and making excel spreadsheets while mom is not engaged in the process. I think whether we really stop and take notice depends on how extremely opposite it seems to us. I, for one, definitely notice when the dad is the one springing to his feet when junior is crying and needs tending too, or when mom tells dad to go deal with it. Part of me likes it. Part of me is confused. But I wouldn’t say judging is the word – everyone’s balance and role dividing is different at home.
But there is a line I am willing to cross. I put it out there last year that I totally judged Sarah Palin for running for VP because she had a 5 month old special needs kid at home. Would I have judged her if she were a man? Yes but not as harshly. I will be honest. Or how about instances where a couple divorces – don’t we all expect the kids to go to the mom? Well so what about when the dad gets primary custody and it’s not an instance of the mom being a crack addict or hooker?
Again, where is that line – and do you start judging the mom in a way you wouldn’t be judging the dad? Don’t you expect the mom to have primary custody? Doesn’t the court system do everything they can to keep children with their mothers? So if it’s part of our legal system – no wonder it’s part of our cultural beliefs.
I am totally late on the game with this topic because I read it over the summer and well, time and life got away from me, but in case you didn’t read it – Marie Claire did an article on women who chose to give up custody of their children. One in particular received the most attention, this family lost one of their children, divorced, and the mother moved from New York to San Fran. She felt it was better for her and the kids.
I am not going to pretend to know what happens when you suffer the loss of a child. But you still have other living children. And ain’t no one who can convince me those kids are better off with mom living in San Fran finding her career while they live in New York.
So am I saying that it’s the nuances that cause me to judge? Would I judge her if her husband got primary custody but she stayed in town? Probably not. But I also think the reasons behind it – she felt she needed time to herself and time to focus on her career and could argue this was better for her children?
Give me a freaking break. Find me one mother who doesn’t want more time to herself and would like time to focus on her career or whatever makes her happy beyond her children. I really need more time to focus on my spa experiences and fall wardrobe, don’t you?
But don’t you sign away your needs once you become a parent?
Or is it just when you are the mother?