On Being Stuck, Both Phlebotically and By One’s Foot

by doodaddy on April 23, 2007

I took Boobaby in for a blood test to check her lead levels. Predictably, she cried at being restrained and poked with a needle. I did my level best to calm and reassure her, using my Karp, my Boo-Boo-Bunny, a bottle of milk, a snuggly, and lots of hugging.

To her credit, Boo calmed down pretty quickly, but was still a little sniffly as we made our way back out through the phlebotomy lobby. Noticing the tears, an older lady said to us:

“Oh, she’s so sad. She wants her mommy.”

I’m a pacifist. I could have punched her.

No one’s kidding me: moms do more childcare than dads, generally speaking. But I admit to occasional frustration at all the mommy-focus in our parenting culture. I feel an ever-so-slight twinge at “Mommy and Me” references, or, as our family’s laundry maven, the pervasiveness of mommies in ads about laundry detergent. I think about all the other daddies, and for that matter, dozens of other family configurations. Where’s the detergent commercial for grandparents raising their grandkids? What about foster families? Emancipated older brothers? Two-daddy families? Can we all use Downy, too?

So I got a little riled, as you can see. But the universe has a quirky way of getting back at me.

That very night, Working Mom took us to a work-related fundraiser at a private home. Boobaby and I, naturally, hung out in the designated babies room with a “lesbian dad”* (the term some two-mom couples use for the non-bio mom). Her toddler was trying to destroy the antiques, so I offered to bring out a book from my 20-pound diaper bag. I knew I’d put one in there. There’s always a book in there.

So what book did it turn out to be?

I Love You, Papa.

Of course.

You know what’s fun? Reading a daddy-love book to a 2½-year old with two mommies who is just starting to figure out that his family is a little unusual and seems not quite sure how he feels about it. With one of the mommies watching.

You know what’s really fun, though? The warm smile that mommy gave me and her son when we were reading. In that smile was acceptance and support and love. It was acknowlegement that just like the old lady at the phlebotomist, our notions of “family” are going to come out of our own history and upbringing. And, as long as we struggle to bridge the divide between our own preconceptions and the realities of other people’s families, there’s nothing wrong with that. In fact, those kinds of bridges will make her child and mine emotionally stronger.

Moreover, I added a new tongue twister to my multifarous body of knowledge. Phlebotomy lobby. Phebotomy lobby. Phebotomy lobby.

*My favorite Lesbian Dad blog, by the way, is lesbiandad.net.

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tagged as in stay-at-home dad,surrounded by mommies ·

{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

blog_antagonist@yahoo.com April 23, 2007 at 3:47 pm

Wow, great post. Things are changing, and conventions are evolving. We’ll catch up in time. In the meanwhile, we have to just recognize and appreciate that family is whatever we want it to be.

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Polly P April 23, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Here, here!, brother! On several fronts.

Here, here! on supporting love and respect for diverse families. That ricochets back to support all the people who help bring young people up, whether they’re bio- or non-bio, parents or grand- , blood related or adoptive, and so on. It takes a village and there’s a lot of us in it. And the more support we all have, the happier & healthier the kiddles are.

As a co-parent in a two-gal parenting team, and the one who didn’t birth the nippers (your “lesbian dad” up there), I share your “occasional frustration at all the mommy-focus in our parenting culture.” Because while I might (kinda) look like a mommy, I’m (kinda) not one. Or rather I’m not THE one. (It’s hard for there to be THE one when there’s two.)

I think a lot about dads like you when I see and hear the multitude of “Mommy and me” references. And I think about the chicken-and-egg dilemma about perceptual and actual change in this arena: you’re right to point out that women, and for that matter, mothers, do the lion(ness)’s share of child-rearing. Yet I also tend to think that popular understanding does not reflect the multitude of others who are rearing them. And ’til it does — frankly, until we foster more of that understanding through venues like your blog here — all the rest of us who aren’t “the Mommy” will have to pick their way over impediments like those (perhaps inadvertently) strewn by your phlebotomy lobby granny.

As to the karmic payback, later that evening. Hey! Coulda been worse! Coulda gone the other way, and Boobaby coulda been plowing through the antiques, and she coulda gone to help you and wound up procuring Valerie Solanis’ “S.C.U.M. Manifesto” for Boo’s consumption. Not that it’d have been appropriate reading for the youngsters. Not even grown-ups appreciate satire. But I’m just saying. It coulda been worse.

P.S. Sorry that I already voted for my man Looky, Daddy! You’re plenty hot, though, dude, really! Whether or not the Blogger’s Choice machinery registers it!

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Polly P April 23, 2007 at 5:00 pm

Oops! Sorry about the comment being nearly as wordy as the post! I’ll be more succinct next time, I promise!

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doodaddy April 23, 2007 at 6:27 pm

@Polly~ Thanks so much for your supportive comment, and from you, any length is fine! I’m a fan of your blog and immensely flattered that you came to check out mine…

Cheers!

Dd.

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aimee/greeblemonkey April 24, 2007 at 10:13 am

Bryan started hating the magazine *Parenting* when they changed their tagline to: “What Matters To Moms.”

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