Destroying gender roles as a father

Your wife or significant other, or baby mamma is expecting. You do a little shopping to prepare. You go to the baby shower to show support and love. You even go to the birthing classes with her, sit there and have pretend contractions with her breathing through them and focusing your center of mind for the big day. You are responsible and you want what is absolute best for your little bundle. You are proud and happy. You are excited and ready for the challenge of parenthood. You feel like there are going to be obstacles in your way, things to learn, but you are ready to face them and overcome them. So, why is it everywhere you look, society is telling you that you are doomed to be this fumbling idiot that doesn’t even know how to put arms through sleeves? On the racks of clothing, accessories like mugs and t-shirts with print on them. They all say that tired old trope: “C’mon daddy you can do this, it’s just a diaper!” “This shirt is daddy-proof” “Me+mommy= one broken daddy!” Why is it everywhere you look, you are confronted with this “monumental challenge” of being a father? Why does Hollywood depict first time dads with such glaring ineptitude? How about we do a little exercise and let the predefined roles play out theoretically. To a woman, motherhood comes naturally. I’ts easy. Cooking and cleaning and wiping butts and kissing boo-boos and putting the baby to sleep. And feeding the baby, washing the baby. Doing the baby’s laundry. Changing the baby’s diapers. To the father, Everything is foreign. He can not be trusted with anything. He is distracted by sports and cigars and other women. Caring for little things is for wusses and sissies. He forgets to feed himself, how could he possibly remember to feed another human being? He is rough and dirty and will most likely harm the child accidentally. Who is this unfair to?  What kind of behavior does this endorse? Where is the truth in this? How do we fix this? Why is it in our society as a whole we try to push the father, and the role of fatherhood in to this caricature of caveman stupidity, while mothers are naturally perfect, caregivers that are totally in tune with what to do, all the time, forever? Have you ever seen my wife when my son chokes on something? I feel like this contributes in a small, yet profound way to gender inequality across a whole, and here is an example: Changing stations in a men’s restroom. What’s the deal? Is it because we just couldn’t be bothered with caring for our children’s cleanliness? Most fathers, at least the ones I know, would gladly change their baby’s diapers. Its part of being a good parent. So why no changing stations in the Men’s restrooms? Does it take a stretch of imagination to ponder why women resent fathers for not changing the baby in the airport?


At my wife’s baby shower, there were two totally different conversations being had with either of us. If my wife was talking to someone, they were telling her to relax and take things slow, one day at a time. “Let things come natural. When the baby sleeps you can sleep. The baby will tell you what it needs. Don’t be afraid.” If someone was talking to me it was a conversation that was totally different: “Are you ready for this? It’s a big change! Don’t forget to help out the Mrs. It’s stressful, so be prepared. You’re going to do a lot of drinking! Just remember, don’t drop the baby!” It’s as if people forget that first time parenthood happens to both partners. My wife was actually less acquainted with childcare than I was, as I had helped care for my two youngest siblings. I knew what a hungry cry sounded like, what a tired cry sounded like, what a painful cry sounded like. She didn’t, yet everyone, even people that knew me, were so quick to lump me in to this clueless idiot stereotype. I’m not saying that parenthood effects both parties equally, no. The female still has to carry the baby and all that good stuff, making motherhood far more trying and complex. What I’m trying to say is, that once that baby comes out. The learning curve starts, equally.

Fatherhood is tough. Parenthood is tough. You are already thrust into this foreign role of caring for another human’s life. And not just being responsible for their health, education and emotional stability, you are indirectly responsible for the role they play in the world and the impact they have on their community. I mean, we still talk about Hitler’s parents. Should we really continue to harp on the role of fatherhood and depict it pretty much the same false way in our movies and literature?

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Most guys I know, and a couple girls, are great fathers. Wonderful fathers. They are Providing and caring and responsible. Not afraid to learn. Fluid and flexible. Compassionate and resolved. Committed and devoted. They make the best of a situation. They aren’t afraid to play with toys, or get lost in a childhood activity. This is what fatherhood is. Now whats the difference between that and motherhood? (after the childbearing of course). That’s just run of the mill parenthood, and most males and men I know fall in to this role as naturally as can be expected.

According to the direct needs of the child, the pressure to be a good mother is just as strong as the pressure to be good father. We (responsible human beings) don’t need extra antagonizing to remember that when we become parents, there is someone that needs us in a profound way. We all know that Stereotypes hurt. Prejudice hurts. Lately I’ve been quite proud of how humanity, at least in America, president notwithstanding, has tackled inequality and begun a transition into understanding that we are more diverse than we originally thought. Slowly, but surely, stereotypes and prejudice are becoming relics of past generations. Today you can have a vagina and be a tremendously wonderful father. We must put these “stupid dad, inept father, Dad’s only good to go to work and make money” stereotypes in the same box labeled “weak woman, women can’t drive, women don’t make good scientists”. We need to tape it up and store it under the ‘Shit we don’t need in our lives anymore’ category.





Breastfeeding, giving up breastfeeding and the role of the dad.

Typically, you’re male. You have no breasts. You have no part in the feeding of the baby until much later. Typically your good lady wife and the baby wind themselves into a tight little relationship that is picture perfect. The baby is fed. Mamma is happy. And dad can cash in on the last few months of person-hood he has until the baby really starts needing two sets of arms and not just eating and sleeping. That’s how things should go. Formula is out of the question, as you both have read countless articles online about the benefits of breastfeeding and skin-on-skin time and bonding with your baby. And you doubtless have read other articles on the horrors of Formula and G.M.O. and David Wolfe and stuff. But what if things don’t go as planned? What if you find out that your wife’s body is just not meant to feed a child no matter how hard she tries? What do you do when after trying for two months your wife looks at you desperately and asks YOU what she should do?

My wife got a cesarean. Everything went great. We learned that if we would have tried a conventional birth it might have given us great difficulty. We were grateful. We were on cloud nine. Our new baby boy was healthy and hit all the hallmarks a baby should. We were set to go home at the prescribed time. The only hurdle that we were trying to get over was breastfeeding. My wife’s supply wasn’t there at all. The nurse assured us that sometimes milk doesn’t come in for a couple days, even a week or longer, that it is quite normal for a cesarean section mother since her body didn’t go through the normal process. This gave my wife instant anxiety. “Why cant I do this?” “Whats wrong with me” “I should be able to do this.” I don’t want to give too much information about my wife, but we will just say that she is not shaped in a way that is conducive to latching. This furthered the anxieties. She actually kept referring to that part of her body as “Broken”. It hurt me to hear her already so aggravated at herself for nothing. Our baby was healthy and fed and loved. In my mind everything was perfect. So we made back up plans to pump and keep trying to latch and we went home. FB_20160414_10_52_00_Saved_Picture

It wasn’t too long after we got home and settled in that I began to think that breastfeeding was not going to be viable. My wife’s milk was in, but our baby still couldn’t latch. Which lead us in to the next den of horror: Mastitis. I had weighed what I had thought beforehand. I had thought about finding breast milk donors and other options before formula. I had thought about the evil of formula and you know what? Feeding my child and making sure that he was full and happy was first and foremost. Everything else, every other care in my life went out the window when I knew that was going to be my safest and most reliable source of food for my child. When it came to tell her, let me tell you, she was not quite on board. So we entered this ongoing argument where she would get terribly upset that she and her body were not performing as nature had intended, I would try and console her and tell her that formula was not such a bad thing if it meant our boy would be fed, which made her upset in thinking that I was giving up, which spun me into the role of standing my ground while trying to be supportive and empathetic. Shakespeare would be green with envy at the drama. It was a nightmare. All of this turmoil had one root cause: The internet.V__3D16

It finally struck me that pretty much all of my wife’s frustration and mine came from trying to overachieve the people on the internet who were actively lying about overachieving. My wife was sobbing daily. I felt helpless. And for what? What were we gaining by continuing this madness? I lived everyday trying to decide if I was doing the right thing still supporting my wife’s choice to breastfeed even though it was driving her insane and making her bedridden ill. It was time to face the music.


My wife stuck to her guns for a while before she gave in. Jackson was fed. It was more expensive, but it gave us peace of mind, which in those dark hours, was precious gold.

I came to the realization that my main goal wasn’t to make my wife give up. It wasn’t to make my wife see it my way. My goal wasn’t to convince her that my suggestion wasn’t the easy way out. My goal ended up being to show her that ‘internet Julie Andrews’ didn’t have all the answers. It was to show her that our baby and I needed her to be happy and healthy first and foremost. That her well being was sacred to both of us. My goal was to love her and show her that Jackson was going to love her no matter what. If reaching those goals meant that I quit? That I threw in the towel? That I am not a member of the instagram and pintrest parents with their perfect hair, clothes and bone structure? Gladly. With pleasure.

If you are facing this problem at home. Don’t be shy about it. Its common and people go through it all the time. If you’re a guy who doesn’t know how to approach the problem, just approach it with love and understanding. Quitting a thing that you have committed to is hard for some people. Don’t Let it get in the way of the happiness of your family. Our baby boy is a year old now. He’s happy healthy, and he loves his mamma.