Yesterday a friend shared a post on Facebook, about a dad that was sick and tired of changing his daughter on the nasty bathroom floor. He mentioned that it's pretty rare that men's bathrooms have changing tables, and that it makes it difficult for him to be a proper parent and change diapers when needed. Of course, when there isn't a changing table in the men's room - there is often one in the women's room. I've personally run into situations where there are no changing tables, period. It's surprising where it happens - Starbucks, an ice cream shop, CVS. It's not just a problem at pubs or bars. But that is what it is - a problem. And in the instance that it's a men's bathroom lacking amenities, it's because of one assumption: dads are babysitters.
If I hear one more person congratulate my husband for doing the most very basic level of decent parenting, I'm going to burn something to the ground. As a mom, strangers not only assume that I'm the "primary" parent, but also that I should be the one who "deals" with the baby when we're out as a family. This might be a generational hold-over, but I've never bought into tradition for tradition's sake. It doesn't serve my family best for me to be the only person carrying the weight of parenting. This gig is a lot of headaches - dirty diapers, puke, buttloads of laundry. Not to mention the stuff that only I can do - bear a child, give birth, nurse them with my boobs. When Rory wakes up in the night, she wants to nurse - she doesn't want or need her daddy.
But guess what? She needs him to be there and be present the rest of the time. And he needs to be there - because if he doesn't do his fair share....well, let's just say he knows I watch a lot of true crime. My husband is a FATHER. Not a BABYSITTER. He isn't "babysitting" the kids, he's watching them - just like I do when he is at work. He isn't "such a good dad" because he changed a diaper - that's one of the most basic dignities he can provide for our child. NOT changing a diaper would be called neglect, people. And you know what? This is our fault.
We - myself included - need to stop holding men to such an abysmally low standard. No, they shouldn't have a lower expectation on their parenting. After all, there are lots of single dads out there who are doing a great job raising kids. If women are equal to men, then men can step up and wipe down a pukey bed at 3:25 in the morning, too. Let's not lower the bar for them. This isn't golf, they don't need a handicap. It's also not a competition, so there's nothing for a guy to lose by burping his baby.
If society can shift their mind on men being equal parents, with equal responsibilities, and equal expectations - so many things would change. Our society would look and function differently. Yes, there would be changing tables in all bathrooms - not just a women's restroom. But there would also be more cultural leniency in men taking a day off of work to care for their sick kids. This could be a huge difference-maker in women breaking the glass ceiling. More corporations would start offering childcare benefits - maybe even on-site care? A case for paternity leave wouldn't seem laughable - which, of course, strengthens the case for maternity leave as well. Perhaps we would even see a decrease in mental health issues in mothers? The loneliness and stress of being the only "real" parent is overwhelming. Sharing the burden could help lighten our mental load, don't you think? Dads are parents - not "babysitters". And we need to start expecting them to step up to the plate.
Have you ever met a dad who couldn't find a changing table in the restroom? In what ways did your own father help carry the parenting load? Do you feel like you share parenting duties evenly with your partner? Tell me why - or why not - on Twitter @pi3sugarpi3.