Picture this: A handsome thirty-something man with a nice shirt on, let’s say it’s blue to match his eyes. He’s in the park playing with his three year old daughter who clearly adores him. He launches her in the air, pushes her on the swings, smothers her little face in kisses. You later discover he’s a single father. Yep, he did those braids all by himself. I can practically feel your womb aglow from here.
Then picture this: The harried mother pushing her pram through town, squashed Ugg boots and a bawling, sticky child. Maybe two bawling, sticky children. Her hair is greasy and she obviously has no job. She has bags under her eyes that could carry her shopping.
These are two images of single parents perpetuated and fuelled by popular culture, media and general stereotyping. When you hear “single dad” you immediately feel pity. When you hear “single mum” you think “un-dateable “. Single mothers have to prove themselves, like all women, as being worthy do date. She has to have a sparkling home, obedient children, Mary Berry baking skills and Alexis Texas blowjob skills. Not only that but she must also have a PhD and own her own house. Yes, there are many Brownie badges to earn before you are considered a “high-quality” single mother. But single dad fixes a ponytail? That’s worthy enough.
Yet these are two genders doing the same thing. Because a woman is somewhat expected to be the child rearer and the housekeeper her efforts are rendered obsolete. Whereas a man is stepping outside of his traditional role therefore causing a tenfold in admiration of his effort. Why? Both have sleepless nights, both have to have meals ready, juggle work and education commitments AND fix ponytails.
London 2014. A single father I know is working the bar as usual. His standard pick up trick is flashing pictures of his baby son and talking about how much he loves him. It works every time. Kids and puppies are female kryptonite(for the most part) and he has no trouble taking someone home. He regularly charms women and even picks up phone numbers at the park. Women practically audition to fill the female shaped hole in his life, none of which he actually takes up on the offer. He keeps his dating separate from his son of course, he’s a good dad, I admire him. Yet his dating life isn’t as abysmal as mine. No where near.
Amsterdam 2015. The smoking area was purple with curling smoke, the music was blaring through the speakers. There I was in my best dress, cradling a mojito. Cue random hot guy. He asks me my name, I ask him his. We glide through the small talk and it’s clear he doesn’t want to go back inside to his friends. He comes closer. One cigarette becomes two, then three. We are enjoying each other’s company. He then declares how attractive he finds me (obviously I’m wearing my best dress). Then he asks the question “So what do you do?”
I answer without hesitation, “I’ve applied for my degree. But at the moment I’m looking after my children.”
His face drops. He doesn’t even comment and half mumbles, “I have to go and find my friends.” Just like that he vanishes. Its was like I told him I had AIDs.
It’s as if I pressed a button and a giant, red LIABILITY sign illuminated above my head.
This is just one of many hilarious examples, but in the end I’m glad he ditched. It’s honest, it’s time saving, it doesn’t lead me down the garden path of “maybe”, which inevitably ends in heartbreak. I reason that they just can’t afford me… because quite frankly I’ve got a high price. You’ve got to step up to be with me. You’ve got to be an example. You’ve got to negotiate with tough feelings about raising another man’s child. You’ve got to look deeper and see the woman behind the role. You have to be selfless in a way that is alien to you. All of that? Takes one HECK of a man. Can’t handle it? You are damn right to run away in that case because I don’t want you either