It was an innocent omission: “Hey Moms…let’s schedule a lunchtime Zoom story!” I read the email from a fellow school parent quickly, with the newborn on my boob, knowing that my husband would add the event to our (suddenly sparse) calendar.
My husband came downstairs for his second cup of coffee on a break from his new job as Remote Kindergarten Teacher. I absentmindedly asked him, “Hey, did you get the email about the lunchtime story?”
“Yeah, the one addressed to all the moms?”
Then it hit me. He deals with this all the time. He is a very hands-on parent, but never more so than now. I spend my weekdays downstairs with our two-month-old, and he spends his weekdays in his office, which has now become our 5-year-old son’s classroom. He is doing an incredible job in a position for which he was never trained. Our son just “graduated” to the next reading level in class, and I couldn’t be prouder of how my boys are doing in this new normal. But he is still lumped into the group emails with the assumed title of Mom.
This isn’t a new phenomenon. I’m sure many of us have experienced the following conversation:
Karen: Who is watching the baby?
Karen: Oh, Dad is babysitting? I guess you should get home soon!
Um. First of all, he’s not “babysitting.” He’s… being a father to his child. And I’m sure he’s fine, so no, I don’t need to rush home to micromanage him. Will the toys be everywhere when I get home? Probably. But do I need to be concerned about the well-being of our child? Absolutely not.
I try to tell him every day that he’s doing an amazing job. I am in awe of any parent doing this alone – whose partners are essential workers or quarantined with Covid-19, and the single parents. You are superheroes and deserve a lifetime supply of coffee and wine. But when he gets an email addressed to “the moms” or sees the look of shock at the dance studio when he steps in as a “dance dad,” it doesn’t make him feel great.
So the next time we send a play date invite, let’s include the dads. Maybe address it as “Hey parents,” “What’s up, caregivers,” or “To The Grown-Ups Keeping The Tiny People Alive.”
But remember that it’s not just moms raising our children.