Recently, John and I ran into a male acquaintance at a restaurant. He was carrying his beautiful little girl in his arms and we stopped to say hello. We asked where his wife was and he replied that she was enjoying a day out with her girlfriends at a winery so he was “babysitting”. I didn’t think much of it, but when we sat down I could tell something was on John’s mind. When I asked, he said that he absolutely hated it when guys say they are babysitting their own kid. It made him so mad that someone would think of it that way…especially since he would sacrifice just about anything right now to be the father to a living baby.
Now, for the record, this guy is very nice and we know he is a good person and father. I am sure he was just trying to be funny…but the joke was lost on us, the parents of an angel baby. Sometimes people say things like this to us without realizing how much impact it has. Unfortunately, this is not the first time we have heard men saying that they are babysitting their own children while their wives are elsewhere. To me, this attitude just flat out stinks and I certainly hope that this sentiment is not the “norm”.
As a teacher, I have had the privilege of working with numerous loving and supportive parents. Usually, I interact mostly with students’ mothers. It is only natural that women, nurturers that they are, are typically the ones to reach out to their child’s teacher. I have to say though, that I am always so impressed with fathers who try. The ones who read to their kids at bedtime, come to parent-teacher conferences, and volunteer to go on field trips. I know that isn’t always possible with work schedules, etc. but I have known some pretty amazing fathers who put their kids and family first and career second. In these families, parenting truly looks like a team effort- not just mom’s job.
Again, I completely understand that not everyone is able to participate in their child’s school life in such ways…but, I would hope at the very least that when the man of the household has one-on-one time with his child or children that they do not view it as a chore, but instead a privilege. I am confident that, one day when we have another child, John will be pushing me out the door just to have alone time with him or her without me breathing down his neck. He can dress her up mismatched like only dads know how. Do really bad hair-do’s. Make doritos and donuts for lunch. Kiss boo-boos. Play princesses. That’s what real men do.
You don’t get to choose what parts of being a parent you wish to partake in or not. Show up. Be there. Thank God for the miracle that you helped to create. It’s called parenting– not babysitting. Big difference.