Taking a Break From it All

Enough was enough.  Diapers, formula, toys everywhere, unending dishes and laundry, driving here there and everywhere for preschool, playgroups, appointments and visits.   Constant (though endearing) nagging by an ultra-high-energy three-year-old (“More Mini Wheats please!”; “Daddy, come play!”; “I don’t want to nap!”; “Bum-wipe please!” etc., etc.), and incessant demands from an eight-month old who had just learned how to grunt commands (translations: “gimme food!”; “gimme that toy!”; “gimme cuddles!”; etc. etc.)…

Phew!

We needed a break.  So we took one.  Hubby got his folks to come down and “spend some quality time” with the kids (aka: “free babysitting”), and we jumped in the car and drove away without looking back! 

Ok.  Well, it wasn’t quite that spontaneous, but an escape from kids never really can be.  Hubby and I had taken a trip this time last year to New Orleans, and it was the best five days we’d spent in years.  It worked out that we’d both have this time off again this year, so we planned a nice trip to New York City.  Of course, this was before Hurricane Sandy.  Not wanting to be total pricks by expecting a city still picking up pieces from a major natural catastrophe to drop everything and show us a good time, we chose to just go somewhere up here – Montreal.

We’ve planned to stay for five days – so far we’re on our fourth, and we’ve had a great time so far.  We’re staying at a B&B in the village, and hubby took it upon himself to organize our every waking moment – perfectly optimizing our tourist experience. 😐  So far, we’ve made excellent use of our three-day Metro passes, gotten in lots of walking and jogging, taken in as much history of the city as we can handle, not to mention lots of awesome food.  Tonight, we will enjoy some music at Place des Arts, then up to the ‘Mountain’ (it’s a hill, but Montrealers apparently get in a tizzy if you call it that) for a jog tomorrow morning, and then back home to the boys in the afternoon.

Some parents we know haven’t had a night away from their kids in six years.  They talk about a feeling of guilt that descends upon them when they even contemplate leaving their offspring, to go out and have fun.  Of course, we also know some parents who still get out two to four times per month, unwilling to sacrifice their life style from the ‘good old days’ of clubbing and drinking.  Hubby and I fit pretty comfortably in the middle, I think.

We both understand the value of taking a break.  Sometimes a break can be as little as one hour – one of us stays at home with the boys while the other goes food shopping (yes, food shopping can feel like a break, if done sans enfants).  Or at the other extreme, a break is both of us heading to New Orleans or Montreal for a week.  Regardless, the time away is undeniably therapeutic and restorative.  As much as I love my boys, and love my house, the chaos-that-is-my-life just gets to be too much at times – it’s all trees, and I can’t enjoy the beauty of the forest.

Right about now – four days into our getaway – we are starting to pine after the boys, wondering what they are doing, and giggling like school girls as we recall their antics – antics which we were not finding so terribly amusing as they occurred.  And just now, Hubby couldn’t resist – he called home just to hear our eldest son’s voice.  Both father and son were tickled pink to hear one another (with our youngest son squealing away in delight, in the background).   And so our trip has done the trick: we are ready to go home now.  Refreshed, renewed and in love with our two little rascals again.

So, take a break from the kids every now and then, eh?  It’s worth it – for everyone!

 

 

 

Advertisements

Heterosexism & Misandry from a Gay Dad’s Perspective

Here I am, waiting for my car to be repaired; I figured that a good use of my time would be to fire off a blog… so here it is!  Ohh, be warned though: it’s another rant-y one, so if you’re in the mood for an uplifting online experience, go google kittens or something.

If, however, you’re willing to humour me while I relate to you a couple little things that irk me, then please read on!

To start off with, let’s define a few terms, just so we’re all on the same page:

Heterosexism: Discrimination or prejudice against gays and lesbians based on the presumption that everyone in the world is heterosexual.  Example: asking a gay man what his wife does for a living.

Misandry: disdain or hatred for men.  Most of you have likely heard of misogyny; this is the male version.  Example: almost ANY baby book you can find… I’ll elaborate later.

Ever since becoming fathers, hubby and I have been literally bombarded with heterosexist comments and misandrist marketing, making it quite clear that – despite living in one of the most accepting nations on the planet when it comes to same-sex relationships – we still don’t quite fit in properly.   In case you are wondering what exactly I’m talking about, have a look at this short list of typical heterosexist comments that people make when meeting either him or me out in public with our kids:

Heterosexist Comments

1.  “Where’s is his mommy?” (bending over and squeezing son’s cheek)

2.  “Awwww – are you giving mommy a break?” (to me, in patronizing tone)

3.  “Dad’s turn to do some shopping, eh?” <nudge, nudge>

4.  “Out with daddy today for a change, are you?” (to my son)

5.  “Oh – you’ve got the day off from work?” (assuming that my ‘wife’ is – of course – raising the kids)

          or, when they find out that I’m  a stay-at-home-Dad:

6.  “Didn’t your wife take maternity leave?” (slightly worried, covertly checking over my son for obvious signs of neglect)

6.  “So what does your wife do?”

7.  “Oh – so your wife wears the pants in the family!” (chuckle, chuckle)

Gay dads have a couple of options when faced with this.  When I first began to get those comments, I just chuckled them off, as if I were amused by people’s playful prodding.  Later on though, it began to get a bit tedious, and I would – on occasion – gently explain that my son didn’t have a ‘mommy’, and that his other daddy was at home, or at work, or in another store.  Nowadays, I find comments like that downright infuriating, and my replies have begun to take on a more aggressive tone: I usual ‘educate’ the offending party on what heterosexism means, and how it makes me feel.  Sometimes, they take my lesson in good humour.  Sometimes they don’t.

It doesn’t stop there, though (woe is me!).  I’ve found that marketing for and around anything “baby” is insidiously and ubiquitously misandrist (disdainful of men’s role).  In a world where there were no gay dads, and all straight dads are big, burly and leave all the mothering to their women, nobody would bat an eyelash at this stuff.  However, gay dads are here to stay, and ALL DADS today have an obligation to be off their asses and co-parenting with their partners in equal proportions.  We no longer live in the 1950’s, boys. 

(If you’re a straight dad and you’re sitting on your ass, letting your woman raise the kids, get off your ass right now and start co-parenting in equal proportion to your partner)

Ahem.  Anywho – I was talking about insidious, misandrist marketing.  Here are some examples of misandry that you might have noticed, but not noticed:

Misandrist Marketing

1.  Parking spots for expectant and new mothers – yes, the ‘expectant’ part is for mothers alone, but there are new dads out there too who would really appreciate the odd conveniently-located parking spot on occasion!

2.  Virtually 100% of literature dealing with newborn babies.

      -the covers of these items either have babies on them, or babies AND doting mothers.  Find me a generic baby book that has a baby and her daddy on the cover, and I will give you… well, I probably won’t give you anything, but I will send that book’s publisher a personal letter of thanks and appreciation.

       -the inside of these books often treat “daddies” as inconvenient necessities for new mothers.  These ‘daddy’ creatures (we’re told) need to be given very specific make-work tasks, as well as provide for every comfort that a mother may need, while she coddles and cuddles and does all the important bonding stuff with the new baby.  I got about 30 pages into one of these books (back when hubby and I were first adopting son #1) when I hurled it into the trash can, so sick was I of the male-bashing that permeated the pages.  I was wholly revolted by the degree of lecturing to men about how to overcome our baser urges and animal instincts, such that I completely missed any valuable information that may have been in there.  Eventually, we came across a book that seemed to indicate that ‘daddy’ could contribute in a meaningful manner, and was even capable of holding a child while not forgetting that it was not a football.

3.  “Moms & Tots” – a category of activities that can be enjoyed by… babies and their mothers.  Only.  Think play groups, think baby swimming time, think little tyke skating hours – you name it.  There is a ‘Moms & Tot’s skating hour that we have been taking our eldest son to for a few years, which costs $1.  They leave a box outside the rink, cutely labelled “Kids – free; Mom’s – $1”.  Since my son is a kid and I’m not a mom, I have yet to pay even once.  And no, I don’t feel the slightest bit guilty.  Ironically, that particular kids skate is attended almost exclusively by dads and grandparents – I expect that the arena doesn’t depend on the income from this skate, else they would have been out of business ages ago.

4.  Slogans by companies peddling baby-related products – look up any website selling baby products and tell me what pics you see.  Yep, babies.  And?  Mommies.  You have to search pretty thoroughly to find a generic website picture with just a dad and his baby (sure, there’ll be the odd ‘daddy-can-help-too!’ section; however, I’m not helping to raise my kids, I AM raising them, so to hell with those areas).  Some of the slogans or tags  I’ve come across (without identifying the guilty parties) include:

  • we’re here for You, Mom!
  • Mommy Tools
  • All About Mom
  • Moms and their babies
  • Mommy answers
  • Calling all Mothers
  • You’re Doing Ok, Mom!
  • Maternal Instincts

ugh.

Ok, so about now, you straight readers are wondering: why is he making such a big deal about this stuff?  Well, the deal is that there is a more inclusive way of going about your daily business, whether as a pedestrian or a business owner.  Yes, 90% of males you’ll meet out there are at least nominally straight, so asking about their wives won’t be discriminatory.  However, asking about somebody’s spouse or partner includes EVERYBODY (uhm… well everybody that has a spouse or partner, I guess… sorry single parents!).  And yes, pictures of cutsie babies and MILF’s undeniably help to sell products.  Well, cosmetics companies learned about 35 years ago that marketing solely to white women was starting to hurt their bottom line.  Wisely, most of them (the ones that are still in business) diversified their products and started advertising to ALL women.  Perhaps it’s about time baby product companies featured some eye-catching DILF’s on – say – half their product labels; pictures of cute dads would still appeal to all the straight women out there, as well as all us gay dads!  Lesbians could buy the products with traditional labels, of course 😉

Anyways – some food for thought next time you see a Dad out with his kid. 🙂

Got some heterosexist / misandrist experiences to tell?  Leave them below and share the pain!

Breastfeeding vs. Baby Formula

Yeah, so we’re two gay dudes; as such, breastfeeding is pretty much out.  Very briefly after they were born, both our boys’ biological mothers tried to breast feed.  Both women dried up pretty quickly however, for which I was quite thankful – both women were heavy smokers, and the one-and-only time that breast milk was sent home to us by our eldest son’s birth mother, I nearly gagged and had to pour it down the drain.  “Poured out breast milk?!  But think of the poor children,”  you poo-poo’ers out there are saying!  Well, please remember: I’m gay, and I find breasts and/or the fluids they leak mildly revolting.  Best interests of the child or not, there ain’t no way I’m handling a sticky, warm cup full of chunky orange slurpy from some random lady’s boob.  NO WAY.

(ugh, ok – clearing my cache of mental images and moving on…)

Breast milk is undeniably the first choice for a baby, since it is created by humans, for humans.  So, if it is available for your baby (and you can handle it without being physically ill), then by all means use breast milk.  The nice ladies at www.maternalinstinct.ca have thoughtfully come up with a top-10 list of  the benefits of breastfeeding, just to make those of us who don’t/can’t do it feel even more like bad parents:

10 Benefits of Breastfeeding
1. Boosts immune function and may prevent a variety of illnesses
2. May prevent allergies
3. May prevent SIDS
4. Is easier to digest
5. Is made specifically for your baby
6. Is always available, sterile and the correct temperature
7. Is free!
8. May prevent certain types of cancer in the mother
9. May prevent postpartum depression
10. Helps moms get more sleep!

(*Notice the number of may’s in that list [5 of them], as well as the (accidental, I’m sure) absence of the word dads in #10.)

 Health Canada reported that while about 87% of mothers try breastfeeding, only about 26% are still plugging away at it six months later.  The numbers for the United States are a bit different, but the general trend holds.  Everyone else?  Well, we’re mixing drinks like madmen, for our tubby little buggers => between six and eight times per day for the first 4-6 months or so.

I was bottle fed when I was a babe, as was my hubby.  Our three-year old was bottle-fed, and now our youngest is being too.  What harm did our mothers do to us by bottle feeding us, and what damage are we now doing to our sons?  Arguably, I would say none.  I have no allergies, no asthma, no ADHD, and I didn’t die of SIDS as a kid.  Ditto for hubby.  In fact, I would go so far as to say (in my non-medical opinion) that bottle feeding is superior to breast feeding, except for fact that we evolved to be fed on the stuff until we grew teeth (pshaw! minor details!).  And so, in recognition of all the dads, moms, or other parental units out there who bottle feed their children for whatever reason, here is MY top-1o list of the benefits of bottle feeding:

Top-10 Benefits of Bottle Feeding

10.  You don’t need to give your baby vitamin-D or iron supplements, like some breastfed babies (baby formula already has enough of both added in);

9.  Your baby should drink from a sterilized source for the first few months of life – I know my dishwasher’s ‘sanitize’ cycle cleans my bottles properly… but  who knows where that breast has been?!?

8.  You can eat and drink what you like, or take any medications you need, and know that your baby is still getting  the nutrients and vitamins that she needs from her bottle;

7.  Bottles allow you to monitor how much your baby is drinking (short of weighing a mother to the exact ounce before and after breast feeding, there is very little way to keep track of what your little breast-drinking tyke is sucking in);

6.  Baby formula can be used as coffee whitener in a pinch – try asking any woman if she’d mind a pinch for some coffee cream!

5.  Anyone can feed the baby (your parents, your friends, Jehovah’s Witnesses who come to the door [that’ll be the last time they bug you, I can guarantee], etc.), which ultimately allows your baby to bond with other adults, other than just the boob-donor;

4.  When your baby starts to eat infant cereal that calls for breast milk or formula, it’s much easier to just add a scoop of formula than to… squirt in (?) some breast milk (honestly, I don’t even know how that would work!);

3.  When your baby has developed enough manual dexterity, he can drink all by himself (around 5-7 months, each of our boys were able to grasp and lift their bottle by themselves.  This allowed us to place them in their doughnut or their rocking chair somewhere close to us and let them do all the work by themselves while we chatted with them, but continued to do whatever we were doing);

2.  Bottle-fed babies typically eat less-frequently than their breast-fed buddies.  This means that they can go for longer stretches through the night, sooner than said buddies (ie: you get to sleep through the night MUCH SOONER than your breastfeeding friends!);

      and the top benefit to bottle feeding your baby:

1.  no breasts to deal with (Yay!).

       And with that, it’s time for me to get a good (FULL) night’s sleep!