One of the trickiest parts of being a primary parenting dad is the moms.
I mean, I like moms and sometimes it feels like I have more in common with them than other dads. Yet, this is precisely the tricky part.
On a typical day, I see more moms than dads around the school and we seem to have lots in common. These moms and I share the experience of being the ones in our respective partnerships who pick the kids up from school, arrange play dates or after-school activities and, on occasion, help others out in this regard. As we get to know each other and talk more, I find that I genuinely like hanging around some of these moms. We can laugh at the same things, whine and complain to each other knowingly. There’s a kind of camaraderie there. Sort of.
What got me thinking about this was Chicagodad’s 14 things he wanted stay-at-home-moms to know. The tone of his piece suggests a bitterness that I don’t really share, but it is clear that he is feeling left out. And that is a feeling I understand.
We dads who are primary parents are excluded from the “moms club”. We are outsiders because, well, we aren’t moms. We’re not invited to the book clubs. We don’t get asked to go to a yoga class or work out at the gym. When we are invited to communal dinners or social functions, we’re asked to bring a fruit tray rather than a main course. (I’ve become the king of fruit trays.)
There are lots of reasons that moms want to connect with each other and many have to do with the desire for women to connect with and support each other – not only as moms – but also as women. I get that.
But this is where it get’s tricky for me.
You see, I like women – and I don’t mean in the heterosexual way (though I am and I do, in fact, like women in this way). But what I mean to say is that I often find myself enjoying the company of women more than that of men. I find women to be easier to be around – less intimidating is how I might put it. Women are – and I am grossly generalizing and unjustifiably stereotyping here – less judgmental and more accepting, less pretentious and more down-to-earth, more emotionally connected to their lives. And most of them really couldn’t give a shit who wins the hockey game. To be sure, there are men out there who are also like this and quite a number of women who are not – they just don’t seem to be the norm.
And here’s where I think Chicagodad got it right. Friendships between moms and dads who parent can be complicated. Wives get jealous when their primary parenting husbands are getting too friendly with other moms. And husbands will feel their wives are getting a little too chummy with that dad. This aspect of human nature isn’t about to disappear, but sometimes I wish that we could just get beyond it and enjoy each other’s friendship – sharing the joys and pains of our common experience and spending time together because we like each other without worrying that “like” might be misunderstood by our partners or the community. Maybe that’s just naive. (Yep, upon further reflection, I think this way of thinking is a bit naive.)
Social roles and responsibilities are shifting rapidly these days – like so many other aspects of our social lives. But social mores are formed over long periods and take more time to change. And traditionalism is still lurking around every corner. It can sometimes feel lonely out there when you are at the edge of a social revolution.