Sunday, June 21, 2009

Can I Be Your Daddy?

This is an old Myspace blog I wrote a couple of years ago, but I feel it's appropriate for Father's Day. My papa is in Las Vegas right now, losing at the World Series Of Poker Tournament (Qustion: what the hell kind of event organizer schedules a huge poker tournament on Father's Day? Answer: a douchebag.) But nonetheless, I love him and wish all fathers out there a wonderful day.

It's a common enough phenomenon: girls are raised to play with dolls. What irony, that the tired, bedraggled mothers who, despite the rewards and love of child-rearing, would want to make their daughters do the same, albeit on quieter, cleaner plastic versions of themselves. Is it out of spite? A conditioning that we hope will stick in the recesses of young girls' brains to come out of dormancy once they have their own little ones? Or just a desire to train them young in the babysitting they'll have to do eventually for mommy?

Whatever it is, it happens. And even after we outgrow toys, it doesn't stop there: it's assumed that girls will ooh and coo over babies with an innate maternal instinct. Postpone having children because you want to focus on your career, because you believe the world is too horrible a place to raise a kid, because you want to keep your plumbing nice and tight. But don't you dare mention to anyone that you don't feel the call of motherhood.

It's sacrilege.

For the longest time I've lied to myself. I don't like kids. I'll admit it. Oh yes, they're cute. Darling, even. And I understand that even the worst kids can be like angels. But I feel immensely uncomfortable around most of them. The same way we imagine the prototypical man is how I feel. No, I don't want to hold your baby. I feel awkward, I feel like I'm going to break it, and when it's in my arms, I don't get a stab of pleasure in my heart. Sorry; it's not the kid, it's me. I don't understand how to behave with kids. Other people seem to innately know when to coo and baby-talk, when to use kiddie language, and when to speak to the little ones like adults. I just have no idea of how to judge a child's age or skills that way, and it makes me nervous. They set me on edge like animals. I've often joked with my friend that when we have kids, we'll do it sequentially- she'll take it until it's about 4 or so, and then we'll trade off, so she can have the baby and I can have the child. Of course, that's fantasy. But the lie I tell myself is what I've heard my mom say: "I really don't like kids. But I love mine."

The strange thing is, I do want to have children. I want to impart everything I have to give to someone, to take my hand at shaping a person and doing better than my parents did (no offense, mom and pop). So what is it about having children turns me off so much? I think I found out today.

I don't want to be a mommy. You see, I want to be a daddy.

This revelation came completely out of the blue today. I was walking through a class building and saw the most adorable little toddler boy walking next to his young, handsome, sweet-looking father. They were such a pair, and they warmed my heart. It was then that I realized that I've rarely looked the same way at a mother-child pair.

Why? I actually remember a piece of writing that I did for my Sociology of Sex and Gender class where I talked about how unfair the purported mother-child bond is. It's elevated to sacredness that cannot be breached no matter what. Who most often wins in a custody battle? Because a child gestates in a woman and not a man, it is viewed as her sole property when, in fact, both a man and a woman had a hand in creating it. I wrote how much it cheapens the father-child bond when we think nothing can break the mother-child bond or talk about maternal instinct. What of paternal instinct? And even regarding 'maternal instinct', there are women all over the world who apparently have none. They discard their newborns in dumpsters or worse. Yet they went through exactly what my teacher countered with: "Ah, yes, but women carry a child for nine months and have that physical bond.". I just don't see it like that; men can feel just as strongly about their progeny. That's not to say that women don't have those feelings of closer connection because of the gestation, etc., but it's just that- a perception and feeling- powerful, significant, beautiful, but not innate, not above examination, and most of all, not limited to women only.

But more than that, there's just something about mothers that I dislike, the way they're viewed in society. I don't even think I can articulate the feelings that I have, that's how complicated they are. Does it come down to me not wanting to be a woman? Well, all gender issues aside, no, I don't think so. I like being a woman, or, perhaps better put, I like who I am at the moment, and who I am is a being with breasts, a vagina, two X chromosomes and slightly feminine behavior. I've thought of transitioning (never serious thought, though), but that's not why I want to be a father. I don't even really want a lot of the responsibility of being a man; I want to be me. Perhaps that's the answer: fathers are somewhat individuals; mothers are archetypes. I don't want gender archetypes. I want to raise a child with all my values, and not have them attributed to 'mother' or 'father'.

I want to be a daddy in a sense that has nothing to do with playing catch and ruffling hair. I like the perversity of fathers who don't stick to the traditional 'father' role- who are interactive in nurturing ways that make us smile and use words like 'hands-on'. I love the queerness of two daddies lovingly raising their children. Despite my sex, I want that. I want to be a role model for a sweet, darling son. These are just thoughts that assaulted me that I've been trying to sort out. What it all means, I don't know. But I can assure you that it's made me feel much more loving towards children, for whatever reason.

So . . . can I be your daddy?

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