Mom v Dad
"When it comes to relationships, build bridges - not walls." - Judy Belmont
When my daughter was born it was one of the happiest moments of my life. Watching her come into the world was a momentous occasion that I'll never forget. The joy that had been building for months was exploding out of me and all I wanted to do was to hold my daughter and to be the best Dad that I could. I knew my life would be completely turned upside down but it didn't matter as the love that I had for her would be enough. And my wife felt the same way.
But my daughter, well, she had a different plan. In most ways she wanted nothing to do with Dad. Mom was everything to her. For the first several months I could barely hold my daughter. She would immediately scream and yell and it was only Mom's touch that soothed her. I couldn't feed her as she wanted nothing to do with a bottle. I could only occasionally change her nappy (this one I wasn't really complaining about...). It was heartbreaking for me as I felt completely rejected by this tiny bundle of joy. My wife, on the other hand, experienced none of this.
Sooo...why did you bring this up? I bring up this story because my wife and I experienced the first several months of my daughter's life in vastly different ways. My wife will never know the heartache that I experienced and I'll never know the burden that she carried. I'll never know what it's like to be my daughter's everything and my wife will never know how hard those first several months were for me. And that's the point, parenthood is experienced in a personal way that is unique to every person and every family. Each parent carries or experiences a burden that is (or may be) unknown to the other parent. And, as my kids continue to grow, this dichotomy continues to exist. It's not intentional by any means, but it's simply a fact of life.
Wow...why are you talking about this? I'm discussing this fact of life because lately I've been seeing more and more articles, pictures, memes, etc regarding Mom v Dad. How Dads are X and Moms are Y. How Mom ALWAYS does A and Dad ALWAYS does B. How Dad acts like 1 and Mom acts like 2. While some are lighthearted (yes...I do sneeze louder than a jumbo jet) others, in many ways, seem solely focused on creating animosity by engaging in finger-pointing and generalizations. In many of these articles/pictures/memes, the comments sections are filled with comments that simply add fuel to the fire. Finger-pointing, he/she ALWAYS does X, etc. It's all there.
So, as I look at these articles I'm frustrated by what I read. Parents ragging on their partners or people talking about how ALL Dads/Moms act like X. What does it accomplish? For some it is simply an outlet for people to vent their frustrations or to find common ground with people of similar experiences (which is understandable). But, for others it seems to be a way of creating division and perpetuating common parental misconceptions and stereotypes. This I simply cannot understand. Does it solve any issues? Nope. Does it provide guidance to better one's self or one's marriage? Not really. So what's the point?
"Before you judge someone, walk a mile in their shoes"
I love this quote as it is completely applicable to marriage and parenthood. If you were to ask a Mom or Dad about a specific event in their child's life, you would probably receive wildly different answers because each parent experiences and approaches life through a unique lens. It's not better or worse than the other, it's just different. I'm not saying that all the belittling is unjustified (as I'm sure some people absolutely deserve it), but perhaps instead of engaging in constant finger-pointing and hate mongering we should realize that Mom = Dad, Mom > Dad, and Mom < Dad all at the same time. In some situations my wife is way better. In other situations I am way better. And again, in other moments we are both rocking it. A partnership is about ebbs and flows, and it is only when we fully appreciate each others strengths and weaknesses will we stop engaging in the ongoing Mom v Dad argument and truly appreciate what each person has to offer. Because, at the end of the day, the Mom v Dad debate ends up exactly where it began, with neither side happy or encouraged.
PS - My daughter and I have become much closer, but Mom will always be #1