Consider this hypothetical scenario:
You take an outing to the grocery store to buy food for your family. Upon your arrival you see an empty parking spot RIGHT BY THE ENTRANCE. Your mind screams, “SCORE!” Your giddiness is smashed when you approach the parking spot and a sign reading “Reserved for customers who happen to be buying milk,” staring you right in the face. Your lactose intolerant body has betrayed you by its inability to digest a cow’s milk. You curse your un-evolved stomach as you drive to the other side of the known world in search of a parking spot so you can feed your family.
HORRIFIC ISN’T IT.
As a new father, I am the victim of discrimination. I, like all men, are discriminated against due to something that we can not control – our gender. We men are not catered to when it comes to all things pregnancy. When you have a spare 4 hours, enter your local book store and count all the books about being a good parent that are written for women. The next day when you have a spare 23 seconds, go back and count the books written for men who want to be a good parent. It is a staggering difference. You will find that many of the books written for women stress emotional bonding with your child coupled with research from years of child rearing. The books written for men usually involve illustrations involving stick figures making less than happy faces while changing a diaper and some type of list. The intellectual bias is staggering. WAIT WAIT WAIT … men have earned this, haven’t they? Raising a newborn is a woman’s job. Right? Was that last sentence offensive to you? It should be. That feeling of “I KNOW YOU DIDN’T” that you are experiencing right now is what I felt when I saw this as I was pulling into a CHOICE parking spot yesterday.
As I drove away to another spot, my mind would not leave this alone. I mean why not change it to read “Stork Parking for New Parents and Mothers to Be” Why choose to omit the father who is bringing his infant with him. As I approached the doors, I decided to ask about that sign and what would happen if I, as a man, brought my infant to this store and dared to park my Jeep in that coveted spot.
Being a small town, I knew the woman who happened to be working when I came in. With a smile, I asked about the sign and what would happen if I parked there with my new infant. Flatly, she said, “nothing.” Taken aback and shocked about the lack of penalty, I repeated the facts. “So, I can park there as long as I have my kid with me.” The reply was a firm, “Yep.” I also asked the manager on duty, his comment was something similar to,” We at ___, want to provide the most comfort for our new mothers who shop with us…” When he said the word “mothers” my eyebrow raised. He saw the question coming, and said, “…and fathers.” I thanked him and paid for my goods and went to my Jeep.
I looked at the sign as I drove away, and I felt worse. Apparently, men who are fathers do not factor in the decision on what to have printed on signs that will be placed in front of stores nationwide? They do not care if you, a man, park there but they will not nor even consider using a gender neutral word on the sign? Are men such horrible parents to newborns that we aren’t even in the equation of consideration when it comes to preferred parking at stores? Other places get it…
Why can’t men get the same billing in the parenting department? Why do men get such a bad rap? Has the world not evolved to the point that the man’s role in the parenting and care of a newborn is equal to that of women?
Some places get it. Some fathers have ascended. When will American men earn respect of shop owners and corporate conglomerates and actually have a DAD WITH CHILD PARKING sign considered? I honestly think that those days are still far into the future. Infants and newborns have a stigma attached to them. Mothers care for the babies. Men don’t. That very stigma is the cause of the discrimination I now face.
I don’t know what to do to combat the lack of respect that people of my gender face. However, I do have an idea about what to do about those signs.
Vive la égalité!
As “daddydom” approaches there are 2 main things that keep me up at night, haunting me like the ghosts of poopytime future. They are so disgusting to think about that I can’t vocalize my uneasiness about them even to my wife. There is one underlying commonality to all of them: the baby’s “fluids”. The baby is going to leak erupt expunge distribute spread her bodily fluids in and on various things. I know that is a definite aspect of my future. Like the soggy, gross sword of Damocles swinging over my head, I can do nothing but wait on its arrival. HOWEVER, Knowing it is coming is no comfort when thinking about HOW it is going to arrive.
The thought of baby puke on my pants is not near as gut wrenching as… I dont know, maybe this:
Can you imagine that???? I threw up a little in my mouth when I saw that my nightly horror has happened to another soul…on film. Speaking of throwing up in your mouth, that brings us to the other aspect of baby fear that I cope with. Here is the other nightmare scenario:
The gag or dry heave is the worst autonomic reaction our bodies have. It is a warning that our bodies send us to alert us to FOUL THINGS. This diaper changing thing is something that my friends at babycenter.com say will happen approximately 8-10 times a day. That’s just the baby’s bowel movements. I gag when my dog, a 5.5 lb Yorkie, poops on the floor. My reaction to Macy’s diaper filling will be YouTube worthy I can only imagine.
Truthfully, I am semi-joking about the “nightmares.” I am told that I will “get used to it.” That, right now, does not sound like something I want to do, but something I have to do. All joking aside, honestly, I want to learn to cope with the vile natural things that go with being a dad. Even if they are horrendous to think about now. These, like all things baby, will be learned as I go.
Sarah Palin, Tea Parties/Baggers, Right Wing Mentality, Bad Drivers, Rude Servers, Texas, Low Battery Warnings on my iPhone, the dog’s accidents, Work Dissatisfaction, that light on the Frozen Coke machine being on, and my stuffy nose don’t bother me today. I dont think they will bother me as much anymore. Yesterday something happened. No, I was not almost killed and saw the fleeting flash of life before my eyes. Just the opposite. I saw my unborn son’s heart beating in his mother’s womb. In that instant, as cliche as it sounds, it all changed. Read the rest of this entry