There is a difference between being a mother or a father. There are aspects of motherhood that are specific to being a woman -- pregnancy, birth, bleeding profusely out of your vagina for 30-days after giving birth (sorry -- had to add that one), breastfeeding, post-baby body pressure, biological clocks... Just as there are parts of a being a father that are his burden alone to bear. Unless he is a seahorse, a dad will never know the intimacy of gestation -- which is just the first of many unique challenges men face.
Even though we no longer live in a Leave It To Beaver society where gender roles are unwavering, they still play a part in modern parenting. Yet striving for equality doesn't mean we have to obliterate masculinity and femininity, or discredit the disparities between our experiences. One of the most important things we can do for each other is be compassionate regarding these distinctions.
So in honor of Father's Day, here are some thank you-s to all the dads out there for...
1) Not being mom: Every dad has had to deal with their sweet little darling screaming manically "I WANT MY MOMMY!" Often this is done with the kid yelling directly into dad's face, so spit showers him with every excessive weep. They then have to comfort their hysterical child because dad is not mom, all the while not taking the rejection personally.
2) Society having such low expectations of you: When a dad is just being a parent, he is made to feel like he a mythical creature. Dads who want to be involved in their child's life are not centaurs, and they are actually a lot more common than they get credit for.
3) Having his manhood questioned if he chooses to be a stay-at-home parent: When a man decides to take on the "nurturer" role, he then has to defend his masculinity for not being the "provider." This can be done by exposing testicles while beating your bare chest and masticating on raw meat, but this strategy might be frowned upon in the wrong circumstance -- especially at the midmorning playground playdate. Last time I checked, however, most of us aren't hunting mammoths for dinner or gathering berries for dessert -- so why are we acting like these archaic definitions of manliness are still relevant.
4) Not having a mother instinct: A mother's instinct is so glorified in culture that sometimes dads feel the pressure to defer to her because they doubt their own judgment. Everyone says, "mother knows best," so it is easy for dads to forget that they too have ideas. Even if dads may throw their kids too high up in the air, they still know that a diaper goes on the butt, not the head.
5) Having to be humble: Dads often have a learning curve when it comes to taking care of a child. Many men have never even held a baby before they had their own. There are things that he has to be taught, as well as dealing with mom looking over his shoulder to make sure he is doing it right... "Swaddle the baby tight, but not too tight. Now that is too loose -- just let me do it."
6) Learning girly stuff for your little girl: When dads have girls they enter into a whole knew universe of stuff they have never been exposed to. Like learning to braid hair, how to put on underwear that doesn't have a fly, and the importance of wiping front to back.
7) Being blamed for daddy issues: Just because your daughter likes bad boys with tattoos, doesn't mean she has issues with you. Guys with tattoos are just hot.
8) The pressure to be a role model of manliness to your son: There is this prevailing idea that a dad has to be tough, strong, and hard on his son so he learns how to be a man. But in truth, the best way to show your son how to be a man is by being the best dad you can be. And of course teaching him to fart on command.