So RD was on a trip to Sabari Malai for a week. When I told people that I was taking care of R, my 5 year old, all by myself, no-one bated an eyelid. I don’t want anyone to. My issue is when I was away for 3 days in January for an official trip, everyone really sympathized with RD, and told me how LUCKY I was to have him as my husband, who agrees to take care of the child all by himself.

I was like, WHAT THE ****? I take care of R all by myself, when RD is away, so why can’t RD do it. Why is he being given all this special applauds? Let me tell you, it’s not that I am jealous of RD or anything, it’s just that I have seen this happen in a lot of households.

The only person who asks both RD and me EQUALLY whether we want help is my mother. If RD goes she asks me if she needs to come to help out and if I am away, she asks RD if she needs to come to help out. If my trips have been longer than 3 days, RD has called her to help out with R and school and stuff….

Photo Credit : http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/single-parents.htm

Photo Credit : http://tlc.howstuffworks.com/family/single-parents.htm

The parent who does it all

If the father takes care of a child all by himself, he is some kind of a great super dad, but if a mother does it, ah! it’s just part of the parenting bit.

If my brother does everything for my nephew including cleaning his bum, putting the diaper, giving him a bath and getting him ready for the daycare which my bhabhi drops him to, he is considered great! What’s the big deal? Isn’t my brother an equal parent? but if my bhabhi does it, ah well, it’s just usual why why why?

This is my problem with the parenting bit, especially in India. If fathers do, they are great, if mothers do, whatever…

I remember once my mother had gone for her school annual day, and Appa was supposed to take us there and then pick up Amma, and drop a couple of her colleagues to home. Appa had combed my hair and made two plaits, Which is perfectly normal. Not that he had made some extra ordinarily beautiful style or anything. But I still remember the way some teachers saw me and gushed out the fact that my FATHER had done it…excuse me, my mom used to do it day in and day out eh?

Or the fact that my Appa used to do second shift when we were younger so that Amma attended her school, while Appa took care of us, and then Amma would come back in the afternoon and Appa would leave for office. Everyone used to think it was a great thing to do! Really???

The father who chips in

When are we going to realise that a father is an equal parent and there is absolutely nothing special about him taking care of HIS child. I agree that it’s a mother who carries a child for 9 months and in the initial months, takes up the task of breast feeding. But apart from that, what a mother can do, a father can and SHOULD do. Whether it’s changing diapers (cliche!) or combing hair!

RD goes out with his friends, at least 4 times a month, all by himself, and that’s not considered an issue. But the other day I let someone know that I was meeting up with my old office friends after a long time, and they asked me ‘Are you taking R along?‘ I said ‘no, her dad will take care of her‘ and they went  on and on about his wonderfully benevolent ways of letting me lead a life of my own..yaa seriously!!! I just don’t get it. I hardly go out to meet friends..I can actually count the number of days in a year, on my fingers..and yet this is the reaction I get. And to be honest, it just irks me a lot!

Joint decisions at PTMs

Or take R’s school parent teacher meetings. Hardly, I have hardly seen fathers around who come and take up the results or talk to the teachers. The one off fathers who come, are  (from my personal observation) usually those whose wives are heavily pregnant and can’t come or something like that! Why? Why do we expect only mothers to be the more important, more responsible or more into parenting, kind of parent?

I am not saying this is the case with every household. All, I am saying is this is the case I have seen in many households, including mine. I yearn for a day, when my brother will not be applauded for getting my nephew ready in the morning, while my bhabhi manages the kitchen. I yearn for the day when my husband will not be put up on a pedestal for agreeing to take care of R when I am away!

It’s time we raise our sons to realise that they are EQUAL PARENTS and not just the sperm donors in the entire baby making process. 

Responses

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  1. Aarti Iyer

    Here in Sydney, most men are like your father R’s mom. I’ve seen husbands including mine being an equal and hands on parent. So, I wonder if it is a mindset and societal issue!

  2. Divya

    I agree with most of what you say…! Yes dad too used to do our hair, we even got haircuts from him,and he’s a great cook as well but that definitely is not a universal trend in most Indian households. Having said that I do see some things changing thanks to western influence…especially when it comes to diaper change, cooking skills and attending PTAs, I see quite a few men doing it!:) So lets hope things are in the balance very soon:) When things change mindsets will too…I guess!

  3. Preethi Chandrasekar

    I dont know if the hands-off father in India has something to do with having an extended family around to help. Living as we do in the US, without help from grandparents, the fathers simply have to pitch in and do all that the mothers do and watch the kids alone when the mother is not there. So maybe the inevitability takes away the “oh, he did it all by myself!” awe. Having said that, in all households that I know (of all cultures, indian or not) , the mother is still the primary parent, she is the one in charge of the lists and appointments and classes. She knows when the diapers run out – fathers will go and buy it when instructed, but she is one who keeps track of it. And that may never be equal – so many aspects as to why, a whole post in itself.

    1. R's Mom

      Well someone has to keep track of diapers so thats fine even if its the mom..my problem is when you put up a man on a pedestal..saying ‘OMG he actually cleans the bum’ I mean seriously man, why cant he!!