The moment you have a baby there is a list of questions everyone asks relating to sleep, food, feelings, my body, etc. I have had no issues with the invasive queries and have answered them for the past 9 months without a second thought (everyone wants to know how you are and how you are dealing). But there is one inquiry that bothers me. A lot. And it relates to my husband, the father of my child, it comes out in different versions of the following:
Does he help? Is he helpful? Does he help out with the baby?
This question makes my teeth clench and I, inevitably, always respond: No, he does not.
There is a narrative in how families work that is embedded in that question. There is a narrative in how families are supposed to work that is described by that seemingly simple query.
The question is stating the fact that I am the mother of the dragon, therefore the primary caregiver. That it is my obligation to feed, bathe, love, take care of my child in all manners and forms. The question states that I am the one that makes her laugh and soothes her when she cries. It points to the fact that I am her center and her all. I change the poopy diapers and clean up her mess, I show her how to play with new toys and take her to the park. I sing to her and take photos and videos of every little nuance I think is a bit short of a miracle because she is my tiny human.
All of this is false.
I am not the only one that has been sleep deprived and waking many times to soothe a teething dragon. I am not the only one that changes diapers and that burped a new human when her gas was a cause for pain (and actually, I was horrible at it, preferring the other Big Human to do it!). I am not the only one who deals with a miniature human’s jet lag, or entertained her on an almost 15 hour flight.
The question asked offends me but, mostly, it offends my husband, the father of my miniscule person. Being curious of the facts that he helps out or not, to see how involved he is with the human he helped create, is offensive and hurtful and it generates a narrative of the family structure that is simply wrong.
No, he doesn’t help. HE does his job! He is the father. No, it is not commendable to him that he changes diapers, he does it because he has a baby and a baby wears diapers unless you live in Hawaii and prefer to have the mini-me in the nakeds. No, he does not need an applause for the many times he lets me sleep and tries to, boob-less, soothe the small dragon.
I feel blessed and grateful for what an amazing, involved partner I have. If it were up to him, he’d be the next one getting pregnant. He never skipped a midwife appointment, nor now, a pediatrician appointment. He never missed a sonogram. He read the pregnancy books and the labor books. We went to classes together in preparation for her arrival. He bathes, sings, massages, clothes and reads to her every single night. And then makes me a drink.
He is an incredible partner and father I feel extremely lucky to bring up this dragon with him. He simply is an awesome human.
I understand why people ask the question. I have seen many fathers who, from the get go, say they won’t change diapers. They also say they won’t do nights. Or they sit in the sidelines, telling the mother what needs to be done and how, but not doing it themselves. But hey, it’s a package deal! Your ego wants your genes to propagate; you need to deal with another person’s poop, and clothes and everything else! That’s just how it goes. There is no way around it.
I understand that it isn’t a first choice to deal with other person’s caca (dealing with our Gremlin-Sea Lion puppy’s poop forever is enough) but making a human comes with the winning ticket of someone else’s excrement.
Before our dragon was born my uncle told my husband that no one said he had to change diapers. Really? I asked my aunt. Well, she responded, the deal was that if he didn’t do diapers he wouldn’t get a say on how the children were raised… no comment.
I understand the question as a normal stating of the facts, but it shouldn’t be that way. Fathers should never be asked if they help out. Mothers aren’t asked that. Can you imagine if we changed it around? The question wouldn’t make sense. It doesn’t make sense now. But people keep asking.
Until we start asking other questions, taking for granted that yes, fathers change diapers, burp babies, soothe, bathe, clean up, clothe, sing, love, play and do what fathers are supposed to do, then a father who actually does these things will not be looked upon as incredible, out of the ordinary.
My husband is my favorite human and I applaud him many qualities, including the fact that he is an amazing father. I feel blessed by the fact that no, he doesn’t help me. He does his job. He is a dad.
Happy Father’s day my love! Our dragon is absolutely blessed to have you as her human-slave! (and so is our Lola)