I want this to be clear. Really, really clear. Im not babysitting my own child. There is no way that this premise could be true. I’m not the “nana” of my own baby. I’m somebody completely different, I am his Dad. Whenever I am by myself with my baby, I lost count of the number of times that I have heard someone telling me whether “today you are being a mom” or I see them looking around for Mom, grandma, sister, niece or any other member the fairer sex that is bailing me out. It has been just over three months since the birth of Dikarlo and I think I’ve heard those sort of comments a couple hundred times. It has been a recurrent experience and a stereotype that probably, as a culture, we should review.
Breaking with the belief that being by myself with my baby its not just OK, but great for both of us. That notion seems to be so far fetched (almost unbelievable) for some people. I guess they ask themselves things like: How a baby can be fine without her mother nearby? Who will take care of the baby’s needs if mom is not around? The answer is very simple: His Dad. And Dad has all the tools he needs to take care of the baby’s needs. This does not mean that we want to replace Mom (an impossibility, which has no substitution), if not the opposite. We give much needed support! Let Mom know and feel that the “load” (or responsibility) of parenting is not only hers. We value their efforts and we honor the sacred bond of mother and child.
Having said that, the respect for that bond does not mean that to be with my son I have to become his “nana”. It seems like, if being his father is not enough. Asking where the “nana” is or depicting fatherhood that way, is unfair not only for men, but for women as well. All this misconceptions start from the premise that as a woman’s responsibility for the upbringing of the kids rests solely on Mom. For example, I have not seen, nor have I heard anyone ask Dikarlo’s Mom if she is babysitting. That question is never asked. Everyone assumes that because she is his mother that she has everything under control and although in our case she is great at it, that is not always the case on other households. Not all mothers by virtue of giving birth are good mothers and not all fathers are absent.
The truth is, that I know and understand the historical reasons for this culture prejudice and stereotype, but actually living it is another matter. Sometimes I feel that I do not want to explain where his mom is (nor should I have to). I’m also not trying to portray myself as a “super dad” for simply being with my son. I am a simple dad, a dad that is there, present. And the truth of the matter is that I love it, no one has to force me to do it. As fathers, we have everything that we need to be and do whatever is necessary for the wellbeing of our children. We can be as loving, caring and responsible as anyone. So please, the next time you see a dad with his baby, remember the pitfalls of language and do not ask if Dad is babysitting. A better option is to honor the legitimate exercise of paternity and support them.
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