As a single father with custody of Declan since his early months, I am, for the most part, accustomed to filling both parenting roles. Typically I have looked at it as being no different than any other challenge and stubbornly set out to prove any nay sayers wrong.
For the past week or so I have been mildly leery of one event in particular though. Thursday I bravely went where few men have gone before, I infiltrated the ranks of the kindergarten mothers by attending the Mother's Day Tea Party for Declan's class.
Although I have routinely faced the strange looks, curious questions and even the surprising few that simply refuse to believe that a scenario could exist where a child would be better off with their father, I found myself leery of the idea of being the only Dad sitting in on Mother's Day Tea.
To make things worse I was 10 minutes late when I arrived, which is something else I should be used to since it is unfortunately so routine for me.
Despite my unexpected insecurity I was not treated like an outcast. I did not receive any dirty looks from the mothers in attendance and no one stood up and said "we don't want your kind here." It was as you would expect, a room full of mothers beaming with pride as their youngsters performed adorably cute song and dance. The only thing slightly unusual was the presence of my beaming bald head.
If I were to file an official report back to the fathers of the world, it would say that the mothers are perhaps more reserved than we would be in the same scenario. I am certain that if the same number of fathers were in that room today at least one of them would have thrown a piece of cookie at a random fellow seated at a distant table. You may equate this to maturity level, but I would insist it is an effective and usually harmless icebreaker. Usually.
Considering this was my first time participating in a Mother's Day event, I refrained from utilizing any such tactics in the foreign setting. Perhaps next year I will give it a try, at a minimum it would make for a great story.
I often voice my opinion that a child needs only one good parent to thrive, however, I will just as firmly state that the best case scenario will always lie in the traditional family setting. Both parents have their roles to fill, in the family and as parents to each of their children. I am a firm believer that both men and women are capable of performing any of the necessary duties, if they have the drive and desire.
I have met several that disagree with me on this point, usually standing firm on their belief that "a child needs their mother," typcially not realizing that by extension they are also saying they "don't need their father." A child equally needs both a father and a mother, in my opinion.
I think any one of the mother's at Declan's tea party today would brave a similar scenario on Father's Day if it meant it would lessen the sting their child would have to experience, resulting from an absent parent. I hope that the number of fathers that are allowed by the court system to do as I have someday increases.
An attorney once told me, "the courts aren't interested in who is a better parent, they want the child with the mother unless she is proven to be unfit." I hope that mentality changes and more custody decisions are based on the merits of the individual parents and not simply their sex. Who knows, maybe someday there will be some random fellow sitting across the room from me during Mother's Day Tea. If nothing else it would be nice to have someone to covertly throw chocolate chips at.