The Weirdest Photo Followed By an Awkward Meat Cutting and Hockey Reference
There's a giant disparity in the parenting experience that's solely based on the number of x and y chromosomes present in the caregiver. There's some sh!t that us guys will never understand, and that's perfectly normal. What isn't normal is the expectation that we will.
Since it's physically impossible for me to:
a/ get pregnant
b/ be pregnant
c/ have a baby
d/ be a Mom
I'll just have to do my best to try to understand. It won't be easy, and I'll bugger it up on something no less than a billion occasions, but I'll try. Here's the bummer about the whole thing though...you ladies don't have to reciprocate. Admittedly there's an imbalance of required understanding at work here...I mean no human being has ever popped it's wailing head out of any orifice of mine, nor have I been required to feed another human being using only my body. I've also never had to sit in epsom salt baths for weeks to help heal the damage done by previously mentioned wailing baby. Still, it gets even trickier...we know these things to be true, and we acknowledge them, and we also understand that they can never be true...we go there. As men, we walk in that direction without a map. We just trust that it's the proper road to take. However, God or Mother Nature, or whoever is in charge of this sh!t, thought it was funny to make this part of the parenting/relationship map a one way street, which sucks the mustard. It's impossible for us to experience certain things that we must from that point forward, for the rest of our lives, compensate for and attempt to balance out with...I dunno, something illusive.
How the @#$% can we attempt to bridge any of that with any kind of effort or understanding?
I dunno what it's like to have to squeeze sustenance out of my breasts for a waling little human being.
I dunno what it's like to sacrifice giant chunks of your life to ensure the health and happiness of your offspring. I can generate the effort to sacrifice significant chunks but always less than your donation to the cause.
I dunno what it's like to lose myself and then be required to find that person again, and piece them back together when the rules have all changed.
I'm not a Mom. I can't be.
I can just be Dad, and sometimes, a great many times, that doesn't feel like enough. Oft times it feels like I'm standing at a bus stop on a one way street and all I want to do is catch a lift in the other direction. It's never going to happen. So I'm going to have to just walk.
Most women don't need to try to understand or get in tune with, or compensate for anything that orbits around the man in their lives, post-baby. Maybe they have to learn to like baseball, and figure out how to tolerate public flatulence, but that's about it (being married to someone who is also married to their career is a glaring exception). If we set the two parenting roles on a scale, it naturally tips toward the Mom, in everything from responsibilities to the need for a collective empathy and understanding (it's not my boobs getting dragged on like a cigarette every hour). It's like going to the park and playing on the teeter-totter but you never get your turn pushing off the ground...you just get to stay sitting up in the air and clutching the cold metal handle so you don't fall off. That game sucks.
It makes perfect sense that a Mom doesn't need to venture up the pot-holed street of understanding when it comes to her partner, husband, etc...because Mother Nature makes it irrelevant to do so. What the @#$% kind of mysteries are down that road after the baby comes? Not many, it seems, but it's a lie. There are mine fields of unexploded ordinance down that path, and ignoring them, as Mother Nature makes it so easy to do, is a problem. Our lives haven't gotten as emotionally and physically complex as yours, and they never will, but it's unfair to assume then that they haven't gotten a little harder to navigate.
We don't know what we're doing. You, at least, have some sort of built in biological manual that assists you to figure this sh!t out, albeit even scared sh!tless sometimes, but still, there's some kind of natural connection to the process, in most cases. We, on the other hand, men, have no such natural connection. Do you know how many men I've talked to who wonder aloud when it is that they'll fall in love with their baby? A lot. Do you know how many men I know who feel like completely useless sacks of excrement the minute they become fathers? Mucho, which means a #$%& of a lot in Mexican. It is the one homo sapien endeavor that men are completely unnecessary to complete after their initial involvement. If the population of men decreased the human race would stumble but eventually carry on. Women would just have to be less selective about their partners. If the number of women on the planet fell away the human race would diminish and eventually fade out of existence. You don't need us past a certain point of evolutionary responsibility. We are integral to the creation process but completely unnecessary in the parenting process. Mother Nature herself, has rendered us irrelevant. That sucks junk.
We can't understand one another completely. It's impossible. But we can't ignore the fact that each of us is walking a new path, and although less emotionally exhausting than your own, us Fathers have a unique challenge in trying to do the best that we can, in circumstances where we literally don't count as much as you. It's a difficult thing.
In the earliest stages of my parenting experience it was very obvious, in just the most natural of ways, not intentionally, that I mattered less than everyone else in my home...that I was suddenly in last place, and would be for the rest of my life. You don't play basketball for very many years if your team loses every game and you only get spare minutes to play. You quit. Here I was playing in the most important game of my life and I was never going to amount to anything more than a guy who came in off the bench. Sure, I had my Spike Albrecht moments, but they were rare, and I was left to accept my 1.8 ppg fate. Mom, however, was Kobe Bryant. She touched the ball on every possession and scored the bulk of the points. She was the face of the franchise. I, seemingly, filled out a roster spot. Dads have to either make their own shots or wait to be dumped the ball, which is difficult at best. Moms bring the ball up the floor and choose to pass or shoot. It's that simple. If you've got a good partner, a solid teammate, she passes the ball a lot, but if you've got a bad one, good luck. You're more likely to get called for three seconds in the key. It's potentially ugly business.
As men we'll never do what you can do, or be what you can be, and we'll never be able to wrap our heads around the weird uniqueness of what your job is. There's not much sense in making us feel worse about it. It only drives men towards garages, rec hockey leagues and cheap American beer. It puts distance between us. What we might want to consider is that the attempt to understand each other is a two way street. If anything, the answers to our puzzles are less confusing. After all, less changed in our collective universes. Ours are often the most simplistic of issues. We don't know where we fit? We don't know how much to give and how much to take? We aren't sure if we're doing enough? We haven't the first clue how to manage this new all consuming thing with the other things that we're still forced to focus on...work etc... Are you resentful? Are you frustrated? Are you tired, 'cause we are too, less so probably, or perhaps differently, but tired nonetheless. It's a ugly collection of simple concerns that if never acknowledged, fester and begin to rot. We can't understand what child birth is like, but surely you can wrap your head around "tired from work, chewed out by the boss, broke, and gimme a minute to gather myself because I just got rag-dolled all day." you can wrap your head around it because you've been there. You've done that. You know exactly what that feels like. We don't know what raw and chafed nipples feel like...we don't. We just know that it's bad.
We very often can't stop our children from crying. We certainly can't feed them if they refuse a bottle, and only want their Mom. We won't be the ones that they wave to when the TV cameras find them...that's you. Soldiers don't beg for their fathers when they die on battlefields. They ask for you. We are unnecessary, but we're trying awfully hard to be otherwise. We might not get it right, and we might suck at more than a few things, but we're trying to understand and be things that we have no firm grip on. Mother Nature makes you a parent. We have to practice, and then hope we're doing the right drills to get better. Women, well, many women, can stand on their heads and get this right. Men, we wonder why we have to stand on our heads in the first place but then do it if our wife tells us, our child asks, or it seems like it's what we're supposed to be doing. That's not a very graceful thing. We're not typically very graceful creatures.
All I'm asking is that you pause and consider the ineptitude that you're dealing with...it can be like dropping skates off in Africa. If you don't tell us that they go on our feet we'll probably try to cut meat with them. Oh, they'll probably cut meat fine, but you won't find much hockey happening.
I don't know how I denigrated that entire post with a lame hockey reference but I just did.