As with Mother's Day, there was a little celebration at Alden's school for Father's Day. They made a collage of the quotes that each child said about their daddy. Alden said, "I love to play horsey with my daddy." He likes when I pick him up and take him places, notably to Will's house. And he likes roughing around and playing horsey with his daddy. Very accurate!
Anyway, that is really where the similarities with the two celebrations ended. Remember how I wrote about the forced day off work so that I could spend the day with my preschooler by packing him a picnic lunch (which, as you recall, I failed to do because I had assumed that on a celebration of mother's, the mothers would not have to be the ones packing the lunches).
For Father's day, the school sent an email inviting all daddies to drop their child off at school and stay for a donut and coffee before they had to head out to work. The event went until 8:30 AM so that everyone could get to work in time. And, the donuts were provided. As was the coffee.
Seriously. What year is it? And, what kind of message are we sending to our preschoolers? Daddies have to work. They cannot spend a whole afternoon with you. And, also, they cannot pack their own breakfasts (or, at least, we wouldn't want to impose such a duty on them). Also, the children did not prepare any special song for the dads -- because, who could expect all the dads to show up at the same time? I say that sarcastically, of course, as every school event has been equally attended by the moms and dads.
I was so irritated. I LOVE Alden's school... most of the time. But, the persistent gender bias that has cropped up time and again is so irritating. No one at his school would bat an eye if Eric were out of town as much as I am. But, for some reason, it gets me a lot comments about how difficult it must be for Alden and various comments insinuating that I likely have little clue as to what's going on with him. But, despite the fact that I clearly work -- there is also the expectation that I can take a day off whenever called upon to do so to host a field trip, pack a picnic or be otherwise on call. There is no similar ask of the daddies.
Eric points out that it cuts both ways and is also hurtful to have such low expectations of dads and the idea that they generally are a nice, but unnecessary, accessory in their children's lives. And, that is also true.
We are co-parents. Both involved at their schools and in their lives -- running them around town, going to parent conferences, helping with school work, playing together, doing projects, and being there for everything big and small. And, we both miss things some of the time. Because we both work. And both of our jobs are important. It is really time that we adapted schools and work to the expectation of joint caregiving responsibilities (whether that caregiving be for a child or another member of your family).
In our own family, we share a lot of the work. We've always got numerous house projects going on and overwhelming numbers of tasks at work and all the general family time that we try to get in -- and, we share it. We make it happen. We parent together. Maybe we shouldn't have a separate day for moms and dads. Increasingly, in blended families and families that come in all different types, that just has the potential of alienating as much as it does celebrating. Some children don't have a mother or a father. They have a grandparent raising them. Or, they're in foster care. Or they have two mommies . Or two daddies. So, maybe we should just celebrate caregiving.
Eric is an amazing dad and deserving of celebration. And, I'm a pretty kick ass mom. But, we don't need to be celebrated as a "mom" or a "dad" -- and we certainly don't need celebrations full of outdated stereotypes and expectations (or the lack thereof).
OK -- rant over.
And, thank you, Eric, for being the amazing dad and partner that you are!