I just got back from a class reunion type gathering with old college teammates and past athletes. It was in Utah, the beautiful but foreign community I landed on in college.
A fun pick-up game of volleyball was planned as a meet and great for all the alumni who could make it. They ranged from 1985-2014. I just happened to be the oldest in the gym, by 3 months. We meandered into the gym, the four of us from the 80’s, loaded on Ibuprofen and Aleve, I think I was the only one jacked up on coffee, and sized up our competition for the beat down.
We shook hands with all the tall blonde ponytails, who were obviously born in the 80’s, and when asked, “When did you go here? 85?” Laugh,Laugh. “I was 2!”
What caught my attention, was not that I was not only the oldest and the shortest, but that there were 30 blonde kids in tow.
I’m not kidding, holy shit!!! There were 15 women, 4 past 50, 3 unmarried and 30 children under the age of 15. Oh, and 2 men who were married to two of the 50 yr. olds who just came to watch.
How does that work? Not how the babies came about! But what were they doing here? This was a planned event, months in advanced, on a Saturday morning. Where were the men? Why didn’t they have the kids?
“Honey, I’m heading out to go play ball with all my old teammates and alumni for about three hours and then have lunch afterwards. It’s gonna be great to play and catch up, haven’t seen them in years.”
“Sounds great sweetie-TAKE All THE KIDS!”
There were 30 children running around the gym, rolling balls, crawling across the court, while mommy took a swing and women dived, not to get the ball, but to block ball contact on crawling child’s head.
Others, just having meltdowns in the middle of the court while “mommy” grabbed and handed them off to a school age child and returned. Or my husband, who was the first to grab a crying baby and walk away with the mother confused on who this strange man is holding and comforting her child.
Thank god for the 12 rolling office chairs tucked in the corner, that kept the older ones busy spinning across the gym with Babies on Board!
My husband, his brothers, my brothers and most of the men in my life have always had a baby hanging off their backs, cradled in their arms or racing in a jogger, so that if “mommy” had something going, they had her covered. “Go play and have fun.”
I’ve often heard the men I worked with state that they had to babysit on their days off. I’d asked, whose kids they babysat. No, I have to watch my kids.
“That’s not babysitting, that’s parenting.”
It made me so thankful for the men, daddies, uncles, brothers, sons and nephews in my life that change diapers as a competitive sport, fight to hold a crying baby and the first ones to say, “I’ve got them. You go.”
I feel like men get a bad wrap when it comes to parenting, it’s always usually the women that look after the kids. I remember one of our friends became a Cultural Care Au Pair to learn better English but he said that the vast majority of au pairs are female!
Anyway, the men in our family have always been role models for the little ones. Daddies don’t babysit!