Wednesday, 19 August 2009

An ass out of you and me

On the weekend I ran into an old old friend, someone I hadn't seen, except in bad Facebook photo flashbacks, for at least a decade.

Wriggly and I were at the pet store* when I spotted Rose and said hello. I introduced her to my son, we exchanged some small talk, and asked her what she was up to these days. That kind of thing. Then she kind of assumed that as I had a kid I must not be working anymore. She didn't mean it unkindly, and I didn't take it that way, but it certainly reminded me of something I had started to forget, from largely interacting with people who know my family arrangements well.

When people see me out and about with Wriggly they think I'm a stay at home mum, because I'm a woman and he's little. When people see Wriggly's dad out and about with him they almost always conclude he's in paid work and having a day off.

Enlightened societal attitudes to sharing parenting? Nope, not there yet.

* And oh what a pet store - I heartily recommend Animates on Mt Eden Rd to anyone with a bored child and no money on a rainy day. Puppies, birds, fish, guinea pigs, oh it was heaven for a little boy who can say dog and cat.


Anonymous said...

I think that's a no-win conversation really because, on the flip-side asking a stay-at-home parent what else they do can very easily be seen as devaluing the job they are doing.

Julie said...

Good point hm! My partner and I were talking last night about the general messiness of our lives in July and early August; literal mess in terms of the house, and metaphorical in relation to being v tired, forgetful and grumpy. We worked out that it quite simply came down not to me working longer hours (as I'm still doing that a bit) but to my partner doing so - doing more than 2 days a week in paid work threw absolutely everything out of kilter for both of us as we struggled to keep things normal for Wriggly. It really brought home to me the advantages to all three of us, not least me, of his commitment to staying home, and how unrealistic it would be for one of us to work at all if we had more than one child.

Eva said...

The more I hear this sort of thing the more glad I am that one of my mom's best friends when I was a kid was a stay-at-home Dad (the father of one of my classmates). They used to get together to play board and card games all the time (sometimes in the guise of me playing with his girls).

I'm not saying I'd never make assumptions, but Dad as warm, loving person taking the role of househusband and primary caregiver doesn't seem that strange to me.