Saturday, May 18, 2013

Mothers vs. Fathers: In the Public Eye

Left: At the scene of the crime; Right: Celebrating Father of the Year
Being a mother and a casual observer of the human race, it warrants me the right to shed light on the interesting public response to parents out and about with their children.

A battle of Mothers vs. Fathers, if you will.  

Thankfully it isn't actually a competition.  Because there is a clear "winner"....and it isn't me.

Let's start with an the average bus ride experience.  As I board the bus, baby strapped to my front; toddler pushing his way through the sea of legs, it is business as usual.  No one notices my existence or offers a seat.  The only time an eye is lifted is if one (or both) of the children makes a scene.   And these once avoidant eyes now contain harsh scrutiny.  Most looks have a bonus "tsk-tsk" noise to accompany them.  I am so lucky to have the "village" there to help. 

Now swap the mother with the father in the above scenario and watch what happens.  The bus door opens and as people notice the father with tot and baby in tow, a sea of smiling faces gaze adoringly in his direction and fall over themselves to offer him a seat.  The children receive pats on the head and a murmur erupts regarding this Father of the Year. 

And if the children act up, the previous judgers lean over to help out any way they can.  It sparks up conversation.  Numbers are exchanged.  Okay, the numbers thing is an exaggeration.  But he would truly make a killing in the lady department if it wasn't for the whole "baggage" of having a wife.

True, this is one isolated occurrance.  Does the same Father Effect happen elsewhere?

One morning I had to cart both kids solo to gymnastics class, as Kevin was unable to join.  While the class was a pretty good time, Chase had to be patient while I shifted  the baby around to be able to ensure Kiefer wouldn't topple over as I steadied Chase on the balance beam.  Chase waited while Kiefer and I took a short feeding break and was forgiving when we skipped the parallel bars since I have yet to grow the necessary third arm for situations involving holding two children -- one balancing precariously 6 feet from the ground.  

Two weeks later the situation was reversed and Kevin attended the class alone.  When asked how the morning was, he exclaimed "it was great!  When I got there, one of the coaches saw I had both boys and took Chase through the course while I held Kiefer."  

I wish I could say I was surprised.  

To be clear, I think my husband is an amazing father and absolutely fantastic with our kids.  Heck, I devoted a whole blog entry to him, so he knows he's good.   He deserves the accolades & extra support...but don't moms too?  The assumption from society is that I should be doing this all and handling it alone perfectly well because I am a mother. 

I'd like a pat on the back too.  Or maybe an empathic smile that implies: "good job mom.  You can make it through today".  

Or at a minimum, let's stop with the tsk-ing.