Moms – have you ever wished that you could spend one day in the life of a dad, just to see what it’s like to do the things you never get to do? You know, like peeing standing up and saving the dishes for an undisclosed amount of time only vaguely referred to as “later”? Sometimes I wonder what life would be like if I was a dad instead of a mom. I like to imagine that it would be easy and carefree, full of piggyback rides and naps and just having fun 24/7. Of course, I know that this isn’t really what fatherhood looks like (exclusively), but there are definitely some things that moms and dads will never get to experience simply because we only ever get to be one or the other.
One night as I was getting my son ready for bed, my mind began to wander many years into the future and I imagined what life might look like when I am a grandmother and he is a grown man with a family of his own. The question of whether he would sneak into my home in the middle of the night to pick me up and hold me in a rocking chair while singing me a lullaby was a no brainer, since I’m pretty sure this is a very normal interaction between mothers and sons worldwide. As I attempted to block from my mind the ugly-cry inducing illustrations from the book that inspired these thoughts (I’ll Love You Forever, obviously) I tried to picture my son in his potential future role as a parent.
That’s when I had a revelation. I have no idea what parenthood will look like for my son, because he will never experience it in the way that I have. This isn’t because of the difference between our generations or the fact that the best practices of parenting seem to change every 45 seconds making it almost impossible to keep up, although these factors most certainly will come into play. The main reason why our parenting experiences will be so vastly different is simply because, should my son become a parent one day, he will not be a mom. He will be a dad.
What difference does that make? The fathers of the world are asking. The mothers, however, are not. They are laughing. They know what I’m talking about.
Ok ok ok. This is actually not a post to bash dads. Their role is incredibly important. My husband does an amazing job of helping to raise our son, and I couldn’t survive this crazy ride without him. On the days when he is away traveling for work and I have to do the daily routine on my own, I sit in awe thinking of single parents and wondering how the hell they get it all done. Single parents, I salute you. You are heroes, wizards, unicorns, and every other mystical and magical creature rolled into one. You are inspiring and amazing and every day you roll out of bed you need to give yourself a high five before you do anything else because you are incredible. End of story.
But back to what I was saying before. Dads are amazing. Moms are amazing. But the way we tackle parenthood can be so totally different and sometimes I wish I could get even a 5 minute glimpse into what parenthood looks like from the other side. I will never truly know what being a dad is like unless my husband and I have some kind of Freaky Friday moment (I think I feel a Hollywood blockbuster in the works here!). So instead, I have decided to compile a list of all of the ways that my son’s potential journey of parenthood will look different than mine, starting with the most certain aspects and moving towards those that he actually might get to dabble in once in a while.
He will never have to…
1. Give up sushi/deli meat/alcohol for 9 whole months and his pre-pregnancy body for the rest of his life.
2. Awkwardly respond in the negative to the question, “Oh my GOSH are you pregnant?” after he has eaten a particularly large meal and his belly is larger and firmer than usual.
3. Convince friends and family that thirst was the only “special reason” he chose water over wine as his beverage of choice at dinner.
4. Sneakily order drinks that only look alcoholic during a night out with friends in the first 12 weeks of pregnancy because he’s not ready to tell anyone he actually is pregnant.
5. Maintain a tight-lipped smile to prevent himself from responding to hilarious comments like, “Are you sure it’s not twins in there?!” and “Wow, you are HUGE!” when pregnant and already feeling like a Goodyear blimp without needing the unsolicited reminders.
6. Reassure strangers at the grocery store that he can, in fact, carry a basket of groceries all by himself, even though his large belly might suggest otherwise.
7. Resign himself to the fact that a room full of strangers is going to see him fully naked and will possibly even be there to witness him pooping on a table (I am referring, of course, to the process of childbirth and hoping against hope that there are very few other situations that this scenario would also be applicable to).
8. Excuse himself from the dinner table to find a place where he can discreetly breastfeed.
9. Begin to sympathize with dairy cows as he hooks himself up to a machine to pump milk for his hungry child while simultaneously attempting to cover himself up with a shirt/blanket/invisibility cloak and screaming, ‘Don’t look at me!’ at his spouse.
10. Feel guilt and shame if breastfeeding doesn’t work out, because maybe he could have tried a little harder.
11. Feel guilt about returning back to work and not staying at home with his child after maternity leave.
12. Feel guilt about going to the bathroom. Feel guilt about taking a shower. Feel guilt about taking the time to put on makeup. Feel guilt about wanting a nap. Feel guilt about wanting to get out of the house all by himself for 5 minutes or maybe 500 minutes. Feel guilt about feeling guilt about oh my gosh is this Inception?
13. Glare at gossip magazines while standing in the grocery store and reading headlines that try to convince him that he needs to lose all of his post-pregnancy weight within the first 17 minutes of becoming a mother.
14. Decide if he can get away with one more day wearing the same yoga pants he hasn’t changed out of for a week.
15. Pretend to want to attend mom and baby playtime groups when he would really rather hide out at home in the basement in the dark with 3 bags of chips watching all 8 Harry Potter movies back to back.
He will only sometimes have to…
1. Leave the party/restaurant/other social setting early because his child needs to go to bed early or got sick or has removed 90% of his or her clothing and is having a temper tantrum in the middle of the floor, causing what some might refer to as “a scene”.
2. Stop his child from splashing about in the toilet even though it looks like they are having fun (because, you know, germs).
3. Feel the urge to dress his child in an outfit that can be classified as “matching”.
4. Wonder why all the other moms on Instagram have perfect hair and runway worthy outfits and try to figure out how they have time to curate all of their photos so they have a common artistic theme that will appeal to thousands of followers (and companies who will pay him to endorse their adorable and expensive products).
5. Care about judgy comments from supermoms who seem to have every answer to every question that no one actually ever asked.
6. Cruise around the Internet and feel guilty about not taking up sewing or cake decorating or carpentry or record producing or a whole host of other handy skills that would make his child’s life so much more fulfilled or, at the very least, more Pinterest-worthy.
But he will always…
1. Look at his child/ren in awe and wonder how on earth he helped to create something so incredible.
2. Utter the phrase, “Daddy loves you” about six thousand times per day.
3. Feel his heart break when he hears about other parents who have lost their children or who are watching their children battle illness or overcome adversity.
4. Miss his child/ren on the days or weeks when he has to be away from work and eagerly scoop them up and hug them so tight that their eyes bug out the moment he sees them again.
5. Inspire his kids to laugh and be funny and brave and weird and wild and see the world in a way that their mom doesn’t.
6. Sneak into his parents’ house in the middle of the night to hold his mom in a rocking chair and sing her a lullaby (because we talked about this already – remember?)