In the Now That I’ve Experienced It, I Can’t Believe It department:
How the assmunching hell did Dads get away with not helping rear newborns for so goddamn long? In the early days – meaning The Beginning of Man through about 1930 – anytime a baby was born, a support system would kick in. Grandmothers, spinster aunts, sisters, and if you could afford it, nurses (wet or otherwise) would assume their positions and help the mother through the first treacherous months of baby raisin’.
Now, in the 21st century, you’d be hard-pressed to find many hipster dads here in Coastopia who aren’t as obsessed – or more – with their newborns as their female counterpart. I don’t know a single dad, or dad-to-be, that hasn’t dealt with the pregnancy and baby with the utmost dedication and seriousness, even those with “real jobs.”
That leaves the years 1930 through about 1985, when the diaspora of families left new moms thousands of miles away from sisters, aunts and their own mothers – and their husband stuck in the bullshit patriarchy refusing to change diapers and cancel golf. Frankly, I don’t know how these mothers did it. Tessa and I both approach Lucy as a full-time job with about nine hours of overtime each night, and although we’re delighted by her newfound smile, we’re also super goddamn tired all the time.
I have often thought that living through the 1950s – as an intelligent, sensitive woman – makes the current political atmosphere seem like a dirty-toenailed commune. When “Happy Days” became such a hit in the mid-70s, my Mom fumed, “I hated the 1950s the first time around.” No wonder those were the precise years when they took us all off the breast and stuck us on formula – it was the only peace of mind these women could get.
It’s always been stunning to me how long men were allowed to get away with crap like that. Even now, the concept of “paternal leave” is a joke at most companies. Is anybody ever insulted by that? The ONLY THING men have going for them over women is upper body strength, that’s IT. And that tacit threat has made them dominate the species for longer than any story has ever been told.
Not to toot horns or anything, but I am proud to be among the generation of fathers who gave up their stranglehold on humanity and actually got into the trenches with all the poop-filled diapers and the 5am-7am rocking. When I swab Lucy’s umbilical cord with a little alcohol pad, I look back in history and know I’m one of the first guys on the moon.
So this blog goes out to mothers like my Grandma Klea Worsley, stuck in some flea-ridden shack in Los Angeles in 1941, raising four kids by herself while her husband went off on 4-month “business adventures” returning empty-handed. None of us new dads are in the same league with her. God bless you, Grandma!