It's been just over six weeks that I have been a father. I'm starting to get the hang of it. It's far more intuitive than conventional depictions of fathers would have you believe. In fact, conventional depictions of fathers are pretty fucking terrible.
I get complimented regularly on what a great, loving, attentive father I am. Which is what I strive for. But the reason I am getting complimented is because I hold my son, because I change him, because I know as much about how to take care of him as his mother does and I don't hand him off, grab a beer and yell from the living room to "keep him quiet, the game is on". And that is disappointing. I want to be recognized as a good father legitimately not because every other father/father-figure that people are familiar with is terrible and I look great by comparison. I don't want to be a good father just because I don't beat my kid and I can remember his birthday when I'm sober. Not that the system helps much.
Paternity is not guaranteed. Because my fiance and I are not yet married (the antiquated system that assumes we should be lest we raise a child in sin and he grows up to be a mass murderer or a politician or some other despicable character) I had to fill out a form that allowed me to accept my role as father. And it is only contingent upon that piece of paper that the state considers me his father. We are both single parents as far as the Empire State is concerned. Of course that is not an excuse to be a bad father. And yet.
I don't know. I just figure it's a bias that is going to bother me more and more as a stay at home father. From the term "Mr. Mom" on through every other insulting child-based activity or product that expects a mother or a nanny but not a man who cares for his child. I feel like this is just the beginning of a semantic and cultural battle against the norms of society that tell me I should put on that damn suit already and get thee to a cubicle. Face it, women have gained far more ground in the workplace than men have gained in the home. Maybe I can do something to change that. But until that day, the kid and I hate you.