“It’s not easy being a mom, is it?”

by Justin

A few days ago at my local grocery, while deftly deflecting my youngest child’s hands from mashing buttons on the debit-card machine, I was taunted by a young grandmother in the checkout line. Apparently she was amused that my wee-one was giving me such a challenge and that I was getting a little impatient (the kid is really good at mashing buttons).

She quipped with a snotty grin: “It’s not easy being a mom, is it?

Unloading my impatience on the woman, I jibed back: “I wouldn’t know. I’ve been pretty busy being a dad.”

I’ve been getting more vocal about gender-roles: mothers, fathers, men, and women. Let me summarize my thoughts in a sentence: Your identity is not derived from your baby-making parts.

These days, I’m living in a world of remarkable paradox. I’ve spent the bulk of the summer working part-time, but mostly caring for my children and family. More than ever before, my friends are mothers, or stay-at-home dads.

In this world, I’ve learned a little something about the difference between being a mom, and being a dad: it’s a fake distinction. It is only when a social construct imposes an assigned role that the distinction is made. This has been well-suspected for centuries, and is nothing new, but these days I can feel the fraud.

I feel it every time I scoop up my pink diaper bag, and draw weird looks from shoppers.

I feel it every time I lean over my umbrella stroller that was designed for a 5’4″ tall woman, and not a 6’0″ me.

I feel it every time I practice my Mom-and-Tot Yoga video. There’s a daddy in the shot…sometimes…

I feel it when I walk into a restaurant bathroom and I can’t find a changing table, so I knock on the door to the ladies room and lock it behind me, or I run a poopy baby to the car to change a diaper.

I feel it every time I’m applauded for doing the job that my wife performs on a daily basis, and has done so marvelously for years without the same broad acclaim.

This isn’t a real distinction; it’s by design.

Without trying to be rude, I’ll tell you about a man I observed with his children. In five days of admittedly infrequent observation, I only saw him smoke, spank, and sit in an overstuffed chair. Somewhere along the way, somebody told him (or showed him) that was okay.

I don’t think that is okay.

I don’t think that’s what being a dad is, because if  that’s what being a dad is, then I’d rather be a mom – even if it’s not “easy.”