This past week featured the first home stand of the year for the Connecticut Tigers, the Short-Season A affiliate of Major League Baseball’s Detroit Tigers. I’m not a fan of the Tigers, my allegiance being to the Boston Red Sox, but I am a fan of baseball. The Tigers provide a fun, cheap way to introduce my daughters to the game.
My wife was working late, so it was just the girls and I. I bought the cheap seats, experience telling me that we’d spend very little time in them, and headed down the concourse for some batting practice before the game started.
That ended up being our spot for the first few innings. The teen and I claimed a picnic table overlooking the third base line, not far from where a group of fathers had gathered to nurse watered-down Bud Lights while our kids went berserk in one of those glorious children’s energy expenders, the bouncy house.
After a hot dog and bathroom break, we headed to the other end of the stadium, again bypassing our actual seats, to find ourselves loitering with another group of guys sipping on beer, one eye focused on the game, the other on the group of children playing tag and rolling down a large hill behind the home team’s bullpen.
A gorgeous night and a win by the home team. Hot dogs, foam fingers, mascots in silly costumes, and overpriced draft beer. The true beginning of summer. What else could you possibly need on a warm night in June?
A penis, according to my wife. Her contention being that if she was to bring the girls to a game she’d probably settle for a Gatorade. That she wouldn’t have been comfortable paying attention to the game with a five year old running around. That they would have left earlier to maintain a more reasonable bed time. That she would have been judged and that many of the same things that make a man a fun father would be used as evidence of a poor mother.
It’s ridiculous, and unfortunately, also probably accurate.
I spend a lot of time and energy railing against trite stereotypes of fathers as bumbling idiots duct taping diapers and mixing up formula and coffee creamer. I wear my “Dads Don’t Babysit” T-shirt with pride and will continue to do my part to advance the narrative that fathers can be just as competent caregivers.
I also think that the flip side to these lowered expectations for fathers is just as damaging. An unfair standard of responsibility and perfection that too many women are struggling to achieve.
It’s time to stop the “mom shaming” and let them know it’s OK sometimes to forget an appointment or practice. That they don’t need to look around and make sure nobody is watching if their kid wants to be pushed higher on the swing set. That once in a while cotton candy is a perfectly acceptable dinner and that two cold beers on a hot night over the course of a three and a half hour ball game is fine for anybody over fifty pounds. That moms are allowed to enjoy themselves too.
The Thirsty Daddy Legal Department would like me to add that I am in no way advocating or promoting the practice of drinking alcohol and driving a vehicle with your children. Common sense is the responsibility of all parents, regardless of gender.