Men aren't treated equally as a parent. Some of you might roll your eyes; others might shake their head. Whatever the case, there is an anti-daddy aspect of society that automatically dismisses 'Dad' as having anything to do with the child, even when he cares for that child every day of the week, just like most mothers.
This 'feeling' of men being dismissed stems from my own reality, so it might very well be completely different in every other setting in the US, so take this rant for what it's worth. I'm the primary caregiver to my children, both financially and developmentally, and it has been that way since after her breasts were hanging loose around the house feeding the kiddos.
We are a nuclear family: I was 17 when she and I shared our first kiss, and I was 25 when she opened herself up, literally, to bring our first-born into this world. We have been together for going on 17 years and we are very much a happy couple.
The difference here is that I'm more of a nurturer than she is; there's nothing wrong with this, in my opinion, and I'm happy to take the Mother role - and I even grew breasts to make it more legit.
[No estrogen pills were consumed in the creation of this backstory]
In fact, we have both agreed that if something were to happen to our relationship, I would be the one who retained primary custody of the children. That's just how we role (yes, I meant to spell it this way..goodbye grammar nazi).
Fast-foward to now: My daughter is 8, my son 6.
When we are needed at the school, Daddy shows up with his moobs (short for man-boobs, didn't ya' know?). Then I get ready for the inevitable: "Where's [insert wife's name here]?"
That one always irritates me, I think, but their reaction to my saying 'she's not coming' is met with polite disgust, an awkward eye-stare, and about 3 seconds of mental computation before we can proceed with the task at hand.
But I say nothing about the obvious awkward reaction, puff out my moobs and wade through the 'need mommy' mentality of school administration.
Upon enrollment, Mom is always listed first. Now, this part I understand. It's considered 'normal' that the mother shows up to enroll the children, and it's considered normal for the mother to deal with the 'kid stuff', so the location of 'parent info' is of no consequence, but that brings me to my next point: the initial meeting with man and woman.
When I head to the school with mother-in-tow, she is greeted first, has her hand shaken first, and all attention is on her. Fine, I get that - it's a woman's world (the school) after all. But then when I take the floor during discussion time and am the one that does all of the 'back'n'forth' yet the admins continue to direct all responses and question to the mother who sits quietly waiting for me to 'handle it'. My wife sees it too, so it isn't just me. In fact, she complained about it to me the first time it happened.
It's clear that I/guys are being treated as the 'sub-parent' when it comes to the school, but let's drive that point home a bit more, shall we?
Ahh, the phone call -----
The Phone Call
So little Suzie (names have been changed to protect the innocent) gets hurt, gets in trouble, or gets [insert random word here] and the school must call the parent. Even though I specifically placed the contact information down as 'call Daddy', and even though I put the 'emergency contact' as my number first, wife's number second, it never fails that the school calls her, even though she's the second on the list.
That's when it really started to sink in that there was a definite problem. When I put my number down first to be called first - it should be called first. In fact, my daughter's first school district never changed that. I would call and very politely ask them to not call the mother in the event of an emergency, but instead to call me, but it never happened - not once. In fact, it was recited to me that the 'system' populates the number to call, which would mean the program itself is quite anti-Daddy (yes, being sarcastic..chillax).
Their new school district has taken 1/2 the school year to acknowledge my moobs as being the head moobs of the child-rearing department. But meeting after meeting with Daddy present, and not Mommy, has definitely resulted in a change of attitude. They finally get it! *does ridiculous dance*
Initially, the school administrators seemed wholly uncomfortable talking to me about things having to do with my child, and it was bad enough that they would actually suggest that I talk to 'Mom' about whatever it was they were talking to me about, but eventually! Eventually, I broke through their 'real boobs only' club and they finally accepted that when they call us, I'm the one that shows up!
This is one that has really unnerved me from time-to-time. I would take my kids to the park (keep in mind that I work from home and set my own schedule, so I'm able to do these things while the wife is not) - back to what I was saying..sorry for the interruption, but I had to protect my manhood for a minute - I would take my kids to the park, only to have some of the most uncomfortable brow-beatings of my life!
And here I thought the beatings would end when my step-Dad left my Mom for someone else's kids he could abuse! But nope! No such luck.
These ladies at the park - nearly every park or social event I attended with my children [without mama], would look at me as if I was some kind of rapist! Looks of disgust, and not polite disgust like the school admins, but genuine disgust and fear. . . I think the best term would be 'suspicious'.
I was being abused with eyebrows. I was being abused by having the mothers all flock to one side of the park benches, leaving me with enough room to do my man-sitting with my legs splayed out as far as is necessary to leave room for my testicular awesomeness.
Maybe the saddest part to that whole thing is that I understand it!
That's right - it makes sense to me. It's not every day these people see a Dad with their kids. That seems sad, for sure, but it's abnormal for them - including the admin at the school. I don't think I ever really took it personally. Perhaps at first I was taken aback, but eventually, I just accepted it as women protecting their own, and in the case of the school, people not liking change or not appreciating things outside the norm.
Now, this MyTake is more of a rant on my part, sure. I'm just kinda' layin' things out because I had to deal with it personally. And I don't know if this is an issue that haunts all the men that have moobs (it is a metaphor, by the way -- I don't really have man boobs..well..I do, but they aren't flappy boobs...anyway, back to my rant. . . ready?)
So again, since I interrupted (so rude), I'll reiterate - I don't know if this happens to all men, but it certainly has affected my outlook on society. It helped me to realize that for all the parades and 'rah-rah'ing' of equal rights activists, we still have a long way to go before it's normal to see roles reversed.
I'm not irritated by the women that treat me differently - and trust me . . . they were all women. I don't know that I ever had a man treat me in an 'off' manner because I was the one showing up for all the school events and meetings and such.
I guess from my life experience, I would have to say this to the women: if we show up with our children at a park, stop brow-beating us. Stop ostracizing us from play-dates with your children (never had the chance unless Mama was present - seriously). Stop looking at Dad-Moms as something strange and start accepting it, because the more everyone screams 'we're men too', the more you will see men rearing the children over the woman.
Don't worry, we're not out here to take your jobs - we love that you're so great with y/our children and that you are protecting them from the unknown (read - moving to the other side of the park the moment man-boob guy shows up with his kids). We love your dedication. But we, or at least 'I', would ask that you treat us like one of the other mammaries on the field of child-rearing.