A Phone Call Is not Parental Involvement

Otherwise titled, “How the hell are we STILL talking about this in 2016?”  Don’t worry–there’s a story.  Let’s just jump right in, shall we?

For Gabs’ birthday party this year, we decided to rent time and space in a local gymnastics place, let the small children run free for an hour or so, feed them cake, open presents, and send them home.  This was Jon’s idea (I suggested bowling, but it was going to be more expensive), so I said great, sounds good, make it so.  (Because in my head I AM Jean-Luc Picard, and our household is the Enterprise.  Everyone has their fantasies–don’t judge.)  He called, got it set up, I sent out invites.  A few days before the party, Jon touched base with the owner, making sure everything was set, and she said yes, just stop by sometime in the week leading up to the party and pay, and we’re good to go.  As the place is located really close to Gabbie’s preschool, I stopped by to settle up on my way to pick her up, and…  Got treated to a five minute speech about how awesome it was that JON had called in and set things up and wasn’t that neat?!  She’d never had a dad call in and schedule a party and discuss details before!

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So, basically, Jon is a golden boy for being able to use the telephone and remembering that his child would like to celebrate her birthday.

That…is fucking pathetic.  Seriously.  That is a low, low, lowlowlowlowlow bar, my friends.  Dads?  That’s embarrassing.  Moms?  That’s embarrassing.  We should all, as collective, enlightened, educated people be embarrassed that this is considered big involvement from a dad in 2016.

I responded by saying “Well, we only have girls, so if he’s going to be involved, you know…  This was his idea, and I said ‘Sounds good; I don’t have time to call right now.  If you could, that would be great.'”  And then she said “Well, good for you!” but in a way that made it sound like I was being a hard-ass.  Again, for asking someone to make a telephone call.  The horror.

Nevermind that I was the one actually handing over the money (not that it was mine, but still).  Or that I was the one who had sent out the invites, ordered the cake pops, gathered the decor, coordinated RSVPs, made sure we bought food and drinks other than cake pops, purchased and bagged up favors, remembered to pack extra socks in case some other kids forgot them, and wrote thank you notes for each and every gift she received (including gifts from his relatives).  No, he made two phone calls.  Slow clap, everyone.  Slow fucking clap.

This is not to say that I don’t think Jon is an involved parent.  He is.  In fact, this is the second time I’ve written this post because the first time, I felt I was teetering on the edge of sexism myself and falling into a lot of cliches and stereotyping.  Plus, it came very, very close to discussing parts of our marriage that, frankly, aren’t for you.  Do we often disagree about the fairness and distribution of keeping the household running?  Yes, of course.  We have a pretty regularly scheduled, bi-monthly “Come to Jesus” talk about who’s not pulling their weight or whose expectations need to be checked.  However, I don’t want to throw my husband under the bus on the internet (or otherwise, if I can help it), and even though that’s not what I was trying to do, that how it was coming out, so I pulled the piece, and here we are.

Side-stepping a…side(?), my interaction with this woman and my subsequent thoughts are, I think, still worth discussing.  Why, in 2016, does making a phone call merit props?  Why is this considered parental involvement from a male parent?  Why is it even worth mentioning?  Because what it boils down to is this–if I had made that call, not a damn thing would have been said about it.  And it shouldn’t be.  Unless I’m being patched in to consult on poverty with the President of the United States or some such, I don’t deserve recognition for making a phone call.  But neither does he.

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