Last week was all about the dudes on Kveller, and all this man-talk got me thinking.
In May 2008 and then a scant 18 months later in December 2009, I grunted and screamed and threatened to cut my OB and openly prayed that I wouldn’t lose my shit all over the delivery table I lovingly gave birth to my two children. I breastfed for three and a half years. I’m clearly a Mama. But over the last five months, I sometimes feel like I’ve stepped out of that role and into the traditional male role. In my high heel hooker boots.
Who’s your daddy? Yes I am.
Sure, each family is different, but society–both in Israel and in the United States–has certain expectations vis-a-vis Mothers and Fathers and the Family Dynamic. And B and I have shattered this heteronormative post-separation paradigm with our arrangement.
I work full-time. He works part-time.
On the 15th of each month, I pay child support. He buys groceries.
I pick up the kids three days a week and take them on adventures around the kibbutz. I get to be the fun parent, while B sets the rules at home. And every time I want to deviate from the usual routine, I have to call and check in with him. Even though we both share custody and even though we both love our children with a ferocity that is sometimes scary, he gets the final say.
“But kids should be with their mother,” so many have said to me. Yeah, kids should be with their mother. And their father. And everyone should gather ’round the table and join hands and say grace. But our family is more Andy Warhol than Norman Rockwell.
It all boils down to this: When the father has a strong support network and the mother doesn’t, when the father is fluent in the spoken language of the country and the mother is still struggling to learn, when the father is able to pick the kids up from gan because he is able to live in the community and the mother lives 30 minutes away because she has to, you adjust. You change the rules.
And you know what? These are stupid and sexist rules to begin with because it supposes that fathers are less capable, less nurturing, and less involved than mothers.
This is bullshit. And after reading the posts and comments during Dude Week on Kveller, I realized two things:
2. The rules are already changing.