**DISCLAIMER** this will be a bit of a rant. One of several to come.
“Fathers are biological necessities, but social accidents.” — Margaret Mead
Ouch. What are two gay dads to do, then? Couple our ‘accidental’ status with our definitive lack of maternal instinct, and you might start to wonder what the Children’s Aid Society was thinking by giving us a couple kids to raise. You might even conclude that it was tantamount to child abuse allowing not one, but two of us ham-fisted, moronic brutes to get our meaty caveman paws all over tender little baby flesh.
Well, somehow, we’ve managed. Three years in, and we haven’t dropped them (excessively), sat on them (at least, not by accident), starved them, forgotten them at the mall (hell – we haven’t been to the mall in three years!) or otherwise neglected, abused or mistreated them in any way. In fact, I would go so far as to say that both our boys have prospered under our masculine care because of the very thing that distinguishes us from the traditional primary caregiver… we are not shackled by any maternal ‘instinct’.
“When a woman becomes a mother she somehow taps into a psychic and connected power to understand the intricate details of another human.” — A Mother’s Instinct
Hmmm. So it’s psychic ability that women have, eh? And here I thought that maternal instinct was a combination of old wives tales, and what ‘experts’ told impressionable young mothers to do. No wait – if I were the type of guy who likes to ruffle feathers (and I am), I might go so far to say that maternal instinct was nothing more than a cutsie, antiquated imaginary belief that women hold on to, to keep a degree of mystique around the task of
mothering parenting. I think that the abolishment of the term ‘maternal instinct’ is long overdue… and no – I won’t suggest replacing it with the politically acceptable ‘parental instinct’, because we’ve already got a phrase that covers it: common sense.
Yes, you heard me right. Without the benefit of that psychic ability, and not a woman to be found anywhere in our house, we both had to ‘man-up’ to the job that only mothers (apparently) could do, with nothing but the heads on our shoulders.
Hubby and I had an inkling early on that raising small humans wasn’t as much of a big deal as most people make out. We’d been practicing for several years in fact: early on in our relationship, we bought plants… and they lived (they’ve even had their own clone-babies). Later, we got a dog, and then we even got a second dog! Two dogs were no more difficult than one in fact; things got easier with the second dog, because they pretty much entertain one another. So what about a human baby? Well, babies share most of the same basic needs as plants and dogs (water, food, shelter, etc) – indeed, they share a good portion of their genome (about 50% with plants and 90% with dogs) as well.
Yes, yes – I can hear you all thinking “is this guy out of his mind? A plant and a friggin’ baby!!?!?!?!” Well just chill: I’m joking. For the most part. The part of me which is serious is telling me to remind you that we’re simply animals, just like dogs, cats, horses, dolphins, chimpanzees and rabbits. We did not evolve to wear diapers, or to sleep only on our backs, or to require sterilized bottles for drinking out of, or to be paraded around in prams wearing frilly little bonnets and booties. Those are all affectations thrust upon us by our mothers, who had them thrust upon them by their mothers and/or savvy marketing firms. So where does that leave hubby and I? Like I said – we just applied some common sense to each situation we came across. Lemme give you a prime example:
We both know a young woman who had a baby about the same time that we adopted our first son. We met up with her one week (around the time that our little guy was 11mths old, and had stopped wearing diapers during the day). She was looking pretty haggard, as she lugged her guy around in her arms (our guy was walking as of that month) and she mentioned that her little guy was having a particularly bad week. When we asked why, she said that he was suffering from a really bad bum rash, and that he was currently on medication for it, as well as on a trio of prescription anti-bacterial & anti-fungal creams and ointments. Now we were no strangers to a bit of diaper rash. Our second son had an inflamed red ring of hellfire around his poor little anus when he was less than one week old. But did we rush to some emergency room so that some intern could offer us a host of chemicals that would abate the symptoms, but do nothing to address the cause, or offer a cure? Nope. First thing we did was whip that nasty diaper off his tender little toosh, then lay him on his front, legs tucked up under his belly and aired that nasty ring of fire out. Took 24 hours to dry out and for the swelling & colour to return to a more normal state, but it was well on its way to being 100% better.
Now let’s turn back to our young mother acquaintance. Primed with her psychic motherly instinct, she was dutifully packing those chemicals onto that rash, and sealing it all in tightly with yet another diaper. I was imagining that poor boy’s infected skin, just cooking inside that wet, airless diaper of his, marinading in that cocktail of pore-clogging spreads all day long. No wonder he was cranky. No wonder his young mother was worried sick. No wonder we don’t hang out with her anymore. In my books, a lack of common sense is next to criminal neglect.
Quick review: diaper rash comes from where? That’s right! DIAPERS. If your baby has diaper rash TAKE OFF THE FRIGGIN DIAPER.
Here’s another excerpt from that brilliant article at professorhouse.com:
A mother’s instinct is not saved for times of strife or illness either. There comes a point in most woman’s life when they naturally gravitate to the warm and soft cuddly infants they see in public. For many, this love of nurturing life starts with a kitten or puppy and grows into the undisputable urge and need to have children. The instinct allows a mother to know without asking or researching what to do to take care of a fever or to get a fussy baby to sleep. While dads look on baffled about which way the diaper goes on – women seem to automatically and naturally know these things from the very beginning.
Yeah. I think it was this paragraph that spurred me to write this post. Isn’t it wonderful, all my readers of the female persuasion, how you seem to automatically and naturally know how to put a diaper on the right way? Awwww. Isn’t that sweet. I bet you all instinctively know how to keep a lovely home too, while your man is out working all day. Isn’t the evolution of the housewife a magical and wonderful thing?
I sincerely hope you are catching onto my sarcasm here. I even hope that at least some of you are seething with righteous fury at the antiquated stereotypes being promulgated here. The thing is, articles like this are still being written to this day. Everywhere you turn, mothers are pegged as the natural experts when it comes to parenting. Sure – traditionally, women have done the majority of parenting, but doing something often doesn’t always make you better. If I started to play golf 24/7, I’d still never ever be as good as Tiger Woods. Of course, I’ll also never cheat on my wife like Tiger Woods, but that’s a different topic altogether. Where was I? Oh, maternal instinct. Doesn’t it seem that society is setting women up unfairly, by making them think that they should have some sort of innate psychic ability when they give birth? Because how many mothers do you know, who panicked and fretted and sweated and freaked out when they had their first child, and (not) surprisingly had no idea what to do? I remember going to a party a few years back, and a woman I knew brought her newborn with her. The poor thing cried the entire time he was there, and I can still picture that woman gawking at her baby, uttering in an anguished whisper “why are you crying???”
Guess what folks? THERE IS NO INSTINCT.
It’s just common sense.
(Ok, Mom – and a bit of help to get us started)
ps: exceptions to the rule:
Yes, there ARE some men out there who make a bad name for the rest of us. I’m ashamed to share a gender with them.
…and as for lack of common sense? Yeah – there’s a few folks out there like that: