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After crossing paths with a father of my grandson’s generation, I was taken aback by their split of parental duties.
Last Sunday, I was wandering my usual aimless path around the gargantuan home improvement shed (you know the one), when I spotted a familiar face. I knew name more than face, to be honest, but I recognised he was an acquaintance of my grandson’s.
Our eyes met and greetings were exchanged, however, the small-talk on both sides was interrupted by the presence of his son, who is “almost two”, and absolutely beautiful. Archer’s attention was split too, ensconced in the miniature trolley provided by the management. While the father spoke to me, he also fielded the almost-English-monosyllabic phrases of his son in eager tones. I smiled and asked on the whereabouts of his mother. I was greeted by a blank look, hiding confusion. She was at work, so it was his turn to look after Archer.
I was stunned. When I relayed this informational tidbit to my grandson, he gave me the same look. While this might be the norm for his generation, it certainly was not for mine.
First and foremost, I am proud of my grandson’s generation for evenly splitting the responsibilities of child-rearing, as it the purest pursuit that we can partake in, but I’ve seen the lay of the land, and it wasn’t always like this.
For my pregnancy, I was comparatively left to my own devices as far as spousal input went. Once the original input was made, it was officially out of his hands, which is not a dispersion on my husband, rather he was a representative that the times put forward. His domain was work, the point that I did so too was viewed as largely irrelevant, as I chose to work deep into my pregnancy. This seemed to be a big thing at the time, as I was continually asked not to, under the guise of “what’s best for the baby”, but I decided to work until I was no longer able to. So, beyond the pregnancy, a more active interest was of course taken in our son, but there were definite boundaries and definitions. Certain things were solely “my domain”. Not that this was expressly said, rather the silent words of society made it so. The pram, the changing, the problems and the feeding was my territory, marked with a flag that fluttered “Mum”.
The above won’t shock anyone in this day and age, because it is common knowledge, but that knowledge should make us momentarily pause for reflection, and think of the true progress that has been made. The wage gap is still a problem that needs to be solved, but I feel that’s outside of the point I’m trying to make. Which is, the interest shown by modern day fathers in their progeny has grown with responsibility, which can only be seen as a long-overdue positive.
The days in which we sit in honour the man who escorts his child around a hardware shop – as opposed to those who have walked before them, those who chalked it off as “mum duties” are golden ones. I just wish I could be around a bit longer to see logic dictate behaviour, in favour of lazy assumption.