Tuesday, February 9, 2010
I met a man the other day who told me, 'Well, I've got two kids--one's still in diapers. They won't stay with me. They won't let me take care of them by myself--they only want their mom."
It seemed like something he'd said before, as a way to do three things at once: wriggle out of doing any childcare himself, get his wife to do the extra work, and keep his wife at home. His wife was nowhere to be seen--he was speaking for her.
I told him he should find another shoulder to cry on.
If he had just wanted a little sympathy from me, that might have been okay. Before I was a dad, the thought of changing diapers was ghastly. If he had wanted understanding, I could have just said,'Brother, I don't understand you. Maybe you ought to try spending some time with your children--you might actually like it.' But he also seemed to want some sort of favor from me, though I'm not sure what. And this was too much.
Look, I know every mom and pop make their own Deal. Maybe he makes all the money and she stays home and works with the kids--that's a deal I don't love, but, okay, fine. Even in that situation, though, if you want to call yourself a father, you've got to be able to care for your kids. Period.
BTW, I only know one couple like that, and they're rich. I suspect that's the only way a woman can be a housewife in the US these days: if she or he is a millionaire. But even my (one) rich friend can take his children in a pinch.
And even if you were a rich workaholic, what kind of a man would want trophy kids? Children to show off, pat on the head, then hand off to mommy? Who would want that?
Look, I'm aware of the different choices people make (and don't make) because of differences in class, race and culture. That doesn't mean I have to accept lame male excuses, or behavior I find to be toilet. At many times during the Years of Shit--otherwise known as the Bush Administration era--I thought that he would not have gotten the US (and the world) into half of the trouble he did if W. had not been an absentee father. If he hadn't outsourced his childcare, and had actually spent some time with Jenna and whatever that other one's name was, he might not have fucked up their future (and that of our children) so thoroughly.
But...well, I digress. Back in this dimension, the other day, when I bumped into this man a second time, he had his wife and kids with him.
I looked at his daughter, and asked, 'How old is she?'
'Two,' he said.
'Mine's three,' I said, still not feeling the bon homie. 'And she's a lot louder.'
The wife, in the meantime, looked like she might enjoy handing the kids over to her man every once in a while. Maybe she's the one who needs a break.