What am I doing here? What would a man be doing on a blog about making a #mommitment? Why would I bother supporting such a venture that has nothing to do with me? I’m certainly not a mom. Last I checked I am not a woman. While it’s true I am a father, fathers don’t have to worry about being judged by other fathers, or mothers for that matter. Right?
Wrong! Very very wrong! But that’s impossible you say. Fathers don’t really care what other fathers do. And mothers, hell they’re just happy to see a man around. As long as he’s not putting more hours in at the bar than he is at home he’s already practically up for the father of the year award already.
But even if these ridiculous notions were true (which they are not), we fathers are so much more complex than that. And to uphold the ridiculous patriarchic notions that men need only be judged by the size of the paycheck they bring home does a huge disservice to those of us who strive to be just a little bit different than those archaic standards. I’m not saying I’m a perfect father, far from it, but I do get judged quite a bit, and I’ve done my fair share of judging. But I’m here to say “No more.” And I hope you’ll join me.
As far back as I can remember (no this is not the intro to Goodfellas) one of the earliest questions I was asked was “What is your favorite color?” My answer is the same now as it was then. Pink. Now you can imagine that this has afforded me a great deal of judgment from the earliest of ages, and from every person you can imagine. I’ve never tried to hide the fact, and I’ve certainly never been ashamed of it. But oh have I taken my share of lumps for it. From the earliest ages I’ve heard “Do you like any other colors?” No, I just like pink. I’ll admit there are some nice shades of green, but pink pretty much takes the cake for me. There were numerous grade school fights started over hearing “That’s a girl’s color.” I know, kids can be so cruel. I still liked pink. Wanted a pink backpack, but I think that was pushing the boundaries of expectations for what my parents were willing to support in the realm of colors and school accessories. Fast forward to now, when I’m in the room with another father and my son wants to put on the pink costume dress for whatever princess he enjoys dressing up as. I see another father predictably deny his son’s wishes to follow suit. “No son of mine…” I’m sure you’ve heard that. And oh the stares I get when I say, “That’s a beautiful dress son. You look lovely in it.” You might judge me, but I dare you to judge my son. They stay remarkably tight lipped. But the eyes tell the story. You’re no kind of father. How are you going to raise your son to be a man? A real man. What if he turns out gay?* (As if someone’s favorite color has anything to do with their sexuality, really) (As if a gay man is somehow less than a real man) I see it all in their eyes. So yes in short we fathers do get judged by other fathers, heavily.
But what about the mothers? Come now, you know by now that mothers have no problem judging other mothers, don’t stop to think for one moment that they would withhold their judging tendencies from men. How many times have I gotten “Oh, I see you’re stuck with babysitting duty.” line? As if I wouldn’t just naturally want to spend time with my kids. I’ve also gotten the “Oh, your wife works. It’s too bad you have to watch the kids.” Silently I know I’m being judged for not earning enough income so that my wife can be a stay at home parent. News flash world, we both work because we find our careers fulfilling. My least favorite comment so far though was “I can watch your kids for you so you can go work. You shouldn’t have to watch them. You might mess up.” I cannot tell you the amount of profanity laced sentences I wanted to drop on the mother who fed me that one. Maybe, just maybe, it might not have occurred to you that I enjoy and adore spending time with my children, and that I’m quite capable of doing it all on my own. I take quite a bit of pride in doing it, and it’s more fulfilling than anything else in my life, even my illustrious career.
So when Julie first announced the #mommitment movement I signed the petition as soon as I finished reading her initial post. And since then I have promoted it as much as I could from my limited reach out into the world. Because I get it to some extent. I know, not as much as moms might get it from other moms, but I do get it. As the tagline goes, being a mother is hard enough. We would all be a little bit better off if we could just stop so much of the judging. And that’s why the #mommitment movement is so important to me. Because it’s not just about me, or any particular mom. It’s about all parents and just being the best parent you can be, while letting others be the best parent they can be. Our children deserve that much at least. When parents are constantly barraged by other parents over what they are, or are not, doing correctly, that takes time and effort away from their children. And that’s just wrong. So stop it. Make a #mommitment today, and stop the judging. If not for the other parents, do it for the children. That’s really what it’s all about.
That’s the end my post on the matter. But I’d like to take this space to address a slightly different but related topic. It’s come to my attention that #mommitment is being seen as not supportive of dads. This is the most ridiculous thing I have ever heard. That would be like saying feminism doesn’t support men. Or that black lives matter means that other lives don’t matter. Or getting mad at March of Dimes because it doesn’t support cancer research. Or save the rainforests means burn down all the other forests. We can care and focus on one section of the population without neglecting other sections that need help too. But causes by their nature have to focus on those who need the most help at the moment. And let’s face it, when it comes to moms and dads, moms need a whole lot of help. Like in the worst way. We as a world treat them like shit. And that’s not right. Dads, while we do get judged, get a lot of passes in this world, and that’s not right either. We hold moms to a different and much tougher standard, and that’s not right either. Now I am not here as the token man of this group. I’m simply here to say that judging moms needs to end and I encourage every man (and woman) reading this to stand up and be courageous enough to do exactly the same and make a #mommitment today.
*By the way the answer to the question is that I would throw my arms around him and tell him that I love him.
Image courtesy of Julie Maida