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It’s Not Babysitting–It’s My Kids

It’s tough breaking expected gender roles.  In my house, I am the stay-at-home and my wife is a doctor.  My boys are growing up expecting Dad to be the one to dress them for school, feed them, get them ready for bed, and all of the other expected ‘mommy’ roles.  Often, I find myself in positions where I want to throttle someone for not understanding that this is a naturally occurring family structure and one that is growing in popularity in the US.

One recent issue I had with this type of situation occurred while I was at a convenience store not too long ago.  Having already dropped off my five year old at kindergarten, I stopped by with the baby to pick up some stuff.  While waiting in line with a baby in a carrier (having mastered the hip-assisted, crooked-arm carrying technique that I observed moms use), the smiling cashier looked at my baby and then to me and said, “Oh? Babysitting today?”

Why on earth would that be the first assumption that someone would have?  Clearly, I carry this kid a lot.  He looks like me, too.  In my mind, I wanted to scream at her and say, “Why would I be babysitting a child that is my own kid?  It’s not babysitting, it’s being a parent.”  Fortunately, I have gotten used to these types of things and simply gave her a curt, “Yes, every day.”  I don’t know if she picked up on my sarcasm or not, but I sure hope she realized that I was giving her a verbal jab.

Have fathers become so distant from caring for their children that the first assumption by a stranger when observing a man carrying an infant is that he is babysitting?  Or is this just a case of me being oversensitive and overreacting to a perfectly harmless statement?  I don’t know, but here’s hoping people start to see that, just as women are capable of being successful outside the home, men are capable of being successful in the home.

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2 comments

  1. Actually, I DO think fathers tend to be that distant from caring for their children. I probably wouldn’t notice one way or the other if a dad was out with his kid, but I can see why someone would assume that a father is “babysitting” on his day off so his wife can have a bit of relaxing time or something.

    The thought of my dad toting me to a grocery store on his hip is a bit weird for me. When I got older he’d take me out all the time, but I distinctly remember that he hadn’t taken me to an eye doctor appointment ever until I was a teenager, because I remember he was shocked that my eyesight was twice as bad as his and said he couldn’t imagine anyone’s being worse than his was.

    1. Maybe I was just being overly sensitive. I know people were always amazed at my level of engagement with my oldest even when he was an infant. Maybe I just have a natural affinity for babies when a lot of men seem to shy away because they’re scared to break them or something.

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