Hey, so I know I’ve never made eye contact and said hi to you the way I do to the mothers at drop-off, it’s just, I don’t usually say hello to men I don’t know. I mean look at me with my I-just-rolled-out-of-bed messy hair, bags under my eyes, and unbrushed teeth. I wouldn’t want anyone to think I was flirting or anything.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t see you. I see you carrying her bright pink backpack and walking her to school on time every day. I hear you telling her to put her cold hands in her jacket pockets, and I smile knowing I told my son the same thing. I see you apply chapstick to her lips and ask for a kiss before you send her into the world. You tell her you will be there after school to pick her up, and as she walks away, you don’t leave. You stay and watch her, your heart going with her. Once she is safely inside, there is nothing more you can do, and you turn to walk back home.
I don’t know what you do after drop-off. Do you have a multimillion-dollar at-home business? Do you drive in rush hour traffic to the office? Do you search the internet for cute after-school snacks and shop at the grocery store? Do you make her bed, wash breakfast dishes, and start a load of laundry? Do you take a nap, scroll Facebook, and sip your coffee?
I don’t know what you do, but I wonder if it’s hard for you to be a man in a “woman’s world.” Are there daddy meet-up groups at the playground? Do mothers include you in their circle of chitchat? Do churches offer “Daddy’s Day Out” drop-off? Have you ever been invited to a DOPs (dads of preschoolers) group? When you are at a store, do you change your baby’s diaper on the bathroom floor if there is no changing table? Do you worry about your professional skills and financial future as a stay-at-home parent?
I wouldn’t know because I don’t ask you those things because, well, it’s none of my business, and ew, I wouldn’t want you to smell my morning breath.
But I do know society wants us to believe we are different, you and I. Because I am a woman, I am supposed to be the more nurturing and loving parent, but I see the sparkle in her eye when she looks at you. I know you are just as capable as a woman at making her feel loved and cared for. I see your wedding band and wonder if your wife is the breadwinner. She is just as capable as a man in the workforce. She can be competitive, assertive and decisive at her job.
I know you are bigger and stronger yet a gentle bedtime story reader. I know I am softer and leaner, but those kids know they better get upstairs by the time I count to 15, or else.
As a woman, I don’t always feel like the picture-perfect mom I thought I would be. Do you wonder if you are fulfilling your “role” as a man by being the primary caretaker of your child? Is this dad thing what you thought it would be?
I’ll never know, because we will probably never have a heart-to-heart chat about it before the school bell rings, but just know this: I see you, I appreciate you, and I know that little girl loves her daddy.