Welcome to “World Tour” where we feature a guest post from around the world, here, at World Moms Blog. Today, we’re in the USA and talking gender roles with father, Scott, from the blog, Three Five Zero.
There was a time in America when the color of your skin determined which schools you could go to, where you sat on a city bus and what careers you could choose, among many other things. That time long ago passed.
There was a time in America when your gender determined whether or not you could vote, among other things. That time long ago passed.
There is still a large part of our population that believes that only certain genders of parents can do certain things, and that some genders can’t do some things at all. Only Dads can be little league coaches. Only Moms can go bra and panty shopping. Dads can’t soothe babies. Moms can’t do their own home improvements. I really want this time to pass.
I happen to be a single dad, and because I am a single dad, I learned to do things I never imagined I would need to do. Bras and panties, for example. I’m an expert, and I don’t really care who dislikes my presence in those departments in the clothing stores. My kid needs them.
I used to be very self conscious in those situations. Not anymore… I go get what I need, and I don’t even pay attention to who else is there, or whether or not they notice me. Just like picking up a gallon of milk.
I know lots of single moms, too. Want to meet guys? Go to your favorite home improvement store. Men are likely to offer you help whether you need it or not. I’m happy to help anyone who asks for help. I won’t offer help based on any assumptions about what tasks your gender makes you capable, or incapable, of. I’ll assume you know what milk you’re buying, too, whether you’re male or female. If you don’t ask for my help, I’ll assume you’re able to paint your kid’s bedroom all by yourself.
This list of examples could go on and on and on. In fact, I hope you’ll leave comments regarding your (least?) favorite story about something another parent assumed you couldn’t do just because you were Mom or Dad. I’ll chuckle along with you, and if the story is topped with enough sexism, I’ll get just as annoyed as you were when it happened.
When my kids are grown, I hope that all of these archaic stereotypes have long passed. I hope that they raise kids in a family unit of some sort, but if either of them ends up raising kids on their own, Grandpa Scott will be there to hack away at those gender biases and stereotypes, along with any that might still exist about what grandparents can or can’t do!
Family comes in all shapes and sizes. Do kids need both male and female influences? I absolutely believe they do. If you’re a good parent, you’ll make good choices about who those influences will be, and it will all work out just fine in the end. It doesn’t matter whether you’re Dad or Mom. Good parents do whatever their kids need them to. Period.
Help me out? The next time you see a single mom or a single dad, look at them differently. Think about any assumptions you had about him or her the moment you saw them. Then erase those assumptions from your thought process forever. Look at him or her as a parent, and only a parent, and assume he or she is a very good one unless you know otherwise.
Do you have a favorite story about something another parent assumed you couldn’t do just because you were Mom or Dad?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog. Scott is a single dad. He didn’t plan it that way, but he did rise to the occasion. You can find Scott blogging at www.ThreeFiveZero.com
Photo credit to the author.
Today we’re sharing a post from a World Mom living in Laos! If you’re interested in telling your motherhood story on World Moms Blog, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org!
This first “World Mom Feature” is by Miss Pip of Laos…
“Equal to None”
A concerned citizen, upon realizing we had three daughters, recently offered to take my partner ‘upcountry’ to the village to meet the local witch doctor. Apparently, this particular Shaman was able to supply an herbal concoction that would guarantee us a son.
(For the record, we are not having any more children. We are very happy with the ones we already have.)
I am fascinated by how often people feel compelled to tell me that my family is incomplete because I don’t have a son. They remind me that, despite over 100 year of feminism, my three children and I are still considered “LESS THAN” because we were born without a Y-chromosome.
Becoming a mother has enriched my life. I love my daughters, unconditionally. I treasure the opportunity to guide them towards adulthood. Nonetheless, becoming a mother has been a struggle. I have had to fight some very personal demons and have been rather lost and confused along the way. Fundamentally, I have had to redefine myself within the context of being a “Woman”.
Until I had children, I naively defined myself as a “Human” first and a “Woman” second. I studied Feminist Theory at University, but I kind of blew off any notion that MY life was influenced by the patriarchy. I was a kick-ass individual, and I lived my life on equal terms with anyone else.
But becoming a mother made me realize that, in reality, I still live in a world defined by and dominated by men, and my life decisions have been profoundly influenced by that.
My partner and I have been together for 15 years. We got our first jobs together, moved in together, paid the rent together, traveled together – as equals. I was hell-bent on our roles in the relationship being defined equally even though that meant that sometimes, after we have paid our ‘equal’ share of the bills, he still had money to go out, and I didn’t. (Interestingly, even at minimum wage he was paid more than I was!) We shared the chores equally. I NEVER ironed his clothes. I was a proud, fierce and independent woman with my own life and my own career.
But over time things started to change. My business ventures, which had sustained us adequately in early adulthood, became less profitable than his career. He was offered the opportunity to move, first interstate and then overseas. I couldn’t justify preventing his progress just because I was wanted to pursue what was, quite possibly, a pipe dream. Also, I loved him. I was proud of his success. I choose to support him, to follow him. It was my choice.
I could still work, I told myself. I was strong and resilient and very capable. But we moved a lot and, eventually, we reached the point where my income could no longer be relied upon. I was, I realized, financially dependant on my partner.
Becoming a Mother
Then, somewhere along the way, we decided to have children. We talked about it, at length. Having children did not mean ME taking on the only responsibility for caring for the kids and the household. I wanted to work. We would share the responsibilities. Equal opportunity parenting. Yep, sure, sounds like a plan, I am on board, let’s do this.
… Needless to say, that is not quite how things worked out.
My partner now works longer hours and spends more time away then he ever did before we had children. He sometimes feels overwhelmed by what he perceives to be his duty to support and provide for his family.
I now earn less money and spend more time in my house than I ever did before children. I regularly feel overwhelmed by my assumed role as the primary carer, wet-nurse, cook, cleaner, manager, taxi driver, nurse, psychologist, nutritionist, disciplinarian in our family.
My family IS the Perfect Little Patriarchy!
But wait… no it’s not perfect… I forgot… I don’t have a son!
I have three complicated, passionate, articulate, intelligent, determined, manipulative, magnificent GIRLS.
One day, my little girls are going to grow up to be WOMEN, how unfair for them and how wonderful for them. They are going to grow up to be HUMANS, what an opportunity for them.
I am their mother and, for me, it’s complicated.
• Shouldn’t I be an example to them, a strong, female role mode
• Have my choices perpetuated the status quo?
• Will they grow up with notions of ‘what women do’ that will go on to influence them as they grow into women themselves?
I am their mother and, for me, it is simple.
• I will practice compassion, identify inequality and I will teach them to do the same. I will continue to grow as a woman and a human because I owe it to them to be the best person I can be.
• I will be proud of my choices – they have given my daughters, a loving and safe home.
• I will encourage my girls to embrace their womanhood. I will teach them that with hard work and dedication they can achieve anything they set their minds to. I will show them they can be the change.
I am their mother. They are my daughters. They are ‘MORE THAN’ anything.
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Miss Pip. She lives in Vientiane, Laos with her partner, their three incorrigible daughters (aged 5.5 years, 4.5 years and 16 months) and two well-traveled cats. She says that she used to be fabulous! (We say, she still is!)
Last year Miss Pip turned forty. She says, “That sucked! I had no idea who I was or what made me happy. I was ashamed of who I had become and conflicted about being a mum. It was all very boring, very depressing and was making me, and the people who loved me, miserable.”
So she decided to change. Miss Pip decided to let go of the past, accept her present and embrace a future where SHE IS the fabulous version of herself that she knows she can be. You can also find her on her blog, 44 and a Fourth.
Photo credits to Miss Pip.
Breathing into Relationship:
The Dance Between Diversity and Unity
The highest form of intimacy is love that does not annihilate difference. Evelyn Keller
I recently had dinner with some new friends from Nepal, a husband and wife and two younger children. My husband and I and our two children showed up to the apartment where chicken wings were frying, dal was bubbling in a silver pot and fried pakora was placed neatly on a plate.
As we sipped warm spicy chai tea, we talked in short sentences, learning to understand each other. I heard stories of loneliness and isolation in a new land, adventures to the mountains and the sand dunes of southern Colorado, and stories of the gods Sita and Ram from the Hindu tradition.We took pictures together and laughed and ran around the small apartment, playing hide and seek with a pink Nepali scarf tied around our heads.
Ajita, the Nepali woman, spent most of her time in the kitchen cooking, remaining very quiet and eating by herself in the living room. I felt discomfort arise at what seemed to be a cultural tradition, the woman preparing and serving the food but not participating in eating the meal.
When we sat down to eat, we were served with solid copper plates that are used only for “special guests.” We were asked if we wanted forks or if we wanted to eat with our hands and we all opted for the latter. Giri taught us how to eat properly with our hands as we tried to master this surprisingly difficult task.
He said to us, “I have tried to eat with a fork here, but I just do not feel nourished when I do.” After a delicious meal and nourishing fellowship, we left bowing saying namaste to one another. Giri said, “You are like family to us.”
On the way home, my family and I had a conversation about difference. My children shared how great it was to eat with their hands and asked if they could do that all of the time. We talked about the children’s names and how they were different from any names they had ever heard. We then talked about cultural differences that felt uncomfortable, like Ajita not eating with us or speaking very much. (more…)