For my son and me, it’s just another regular afternoon of errands and coffee. During most of our outings, moms, young girls, and grandmas alike can’t help but be entrapped by our six-month-old baby’s blue eyes. They come over, ask how old he is, comment on how cute his little smile is… and then the small talk comes about.
Here is a list of my top things people say that usually ends up as a little lesson about first impressions and common assumptions.
“Oh, it’s YOUR turn today.”
I guess people still aren’t used to seeing a man with a baby. I thought that in the last decade or so, things have gotten better but it still holds that MOM is the primary errand-runner. I quietly respond with “It’s ALWAYS my turn.”
“So is mommy getting a break today?”
Similar to the previous comment but my response is quite different “Ummm, no… there’s no mommy”. A very upset lady once caressed my shoulder and began apologizing for bringing it up. After letting her sweat it out a bit I tell her that Luca has two daddies instead. After the sigh of relief (and some confusion) the conversation lulls to it’s uncomfortable end.
“Must be nice to be the one that stays home”
Really? Come visit me at 3 a.m. after a fussy, teething baby who hasn’t slept much in the last 24 hours can’t stop screeching his little face off in my right ear!
“Need some help?”
This one comes from a friend of mine who was in a restaurant with his crying son. A helpful lady approached him insisting that the baby needed to be changed and volunteered to help since “I know how fathers can be”.
So once the innocent bystander realizes that the baby has 2 daddies, many of them get caught by surprise and are not sure how to respond.
This one is usually followed by a long pause as she tries to process the information. Most of the time she’ll get to a point where she smiles and says something along the lines of “well good for you!”
“So which one of you is ‘MOM’?”
The implication here is that one of us plays the more traditional “mom” role in the parenting. I don’t let this one get to me since I honestly believe they don’t mean to be offensive. My response is usually “Well me of course! After all, I’m the one who stays home and breastfeeds!”
“So who’s the REAL dad?”
This one gets on my nerves a little and of course we respond with “We both are!” Whereas in my head I’m thinking “Do you even hear what you’re saying?”
I try not to blame people for their preconceived notions of parenting. Their intentions are usually in the right place and sometimes people surprise you with a refreshingly simple nod to you doing a good job of being a dad. The other day at the bookstore a couple of ladies were chatting and approached us together. I cringed a little half-expecting to correct their upcoming comment when all I heard was:
“It’s SO nice to see dads spending time with their kids!”