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Call me Mr. Mom

8:31:00 PM DC Daddy's Wine Time 1 Comments Category : , , , , , , ,

What a convenient way to have an experiment, I thought.

Not a novel experiment mind you, but one that would offer me grand epiphanies. I would probe fundamental mysteries and come to deep revelations of great import. My research would take me down avenues of personal evolution that could grant me a more fine-tuned perception of reality; thus gaining new perspectives. I would do what is still considered to be rare, if not taboo, among men of many cultures...

“So what do you think?” she asked.
“About what? Being pregnant?”
“Yeah.”
“Sure. Let’s do it.”

Call me Mr. Mom.

Halfway between then and now

After the co-op playgroup, several of the parents (all mothers) and I shot the shit about parenting, jobs, and other random topics. They were addressing long hiatuses from work in order to parent full-time and the difficulty of going back. They assured me that, when I was ready, there’d be something out there.

One mother joked that she’d been harping on her husband to start a (stay-at-home) dad blog in order to keep him busy and relieve stress.

I laughed uproariously in my own private bubble of irony.

Three Years after the beginning

Looking over my domain, which really isn’t, it seemed pristine. Yet, upon closer inspection I could see that the cleanliness was only superficial. It’s usually like this but shouldn’t be after the second cleaning that day. Such is life.

Ah, fuck… Life was easier when I was beholden to no one. A loner. An irresponsible slob. An errant atom bouncing around in the Void. A man!  

“Daddy!”

I stepped out of the kitchen, “(I can’t get no) Satisfaction” suddenly popped into my head. It wasn’t a self-directed tune, but in reference to another’s constant state of need.

“Whacha singin’ daddy?”
“Your theme song, darlin’.”

The living/ TV room was a manageable chaos that could wait. I turned back to the kitchen and saw Tupperware, bits of food stuck to the wall, and other pieces of crumbs and crud hiding in every nook and cranny.

I wonder if there’s something I’m doing wrong. Are there men out there who own housework? Would my wife be better at [all] this? Would any woman? Do they tolerate it more than men? Or, do we all find it futile? These are sexist thoughts, I know, but maybe that’s what generations of socially accepted gender roles forced women to perfect: the household.

Google could probably answer all of my questions, but, either way, the fucking apartment wasn’t going to clea
n itself.

A few years prior

“So, what do you do?” my row-mate on the plane asked.
“I, uh, maintain the health and happiness of a little human being.”
“Oh…” he said, clearly not amused.
“Yeah, I’m a stay-at-home parent.”

“Oh,” he said again, “that’s interesting. More and more men are doing that these days, I guess. I always worked for a living,” his gaze lasting a moment too long, as if he saw through me and found me wanting. There was no need to challenge him or keep the conversation going, I’m not really a fan of midflight conversation.

His unspoken accusation wasn’t common for me, however. I’ve met plenty of folks, his age and younger, who’ve praised me for my decision to stay at home. I live in a DC and many of the people I interact with are progressive, tolerant, and new age. Classic gender roles don’t hold sway, even if they still persist below the surface.

It’s not even uncommon to see men in my line of work around town.

We’re a minority but we do exist.

We’re lucky, too, that we can afford having one parent stay at home. I’m told my daughter benefits greatly and this is probably true, but I have personal doubts. I wonder if my increasing skill in childcare has somehow lowered my economic earning power. Will I be able to return to the work force after not having had to answer for my appearance for so long?

I doubt an interviewer would take me seriously if I included house parenting on my résumé.

Mrs./ Mr. Interviewer: So what have you done over the last few years that would make you competent at this job?

Me: It’s true that I’ve grown a magnificent beard, I never wear a suit, and I don’t put pants until I have to actually go outside. But the old stereotype of the relaxed, pampered housewife, who hasn’t a care in the world, is absurd! Listen, I’ve managed to keep pure chaos alive for the last 3 years. Hire me, damn it!

See what I mean?

There are also other intangibles that only manifest after the fact. House parenting is mentally and physically grueling, tedious, repetitive, frustrating, and often times isolating.

Isolated amongst others of my kind, yet not of my kind: the stay-at-home mom.

Would you find that intimidating?

I find that intimidating.

Intimidating groups of women give me bad gas.

Tragic but true.

Flatulence aside, I don’t easily fit into these groups, but there I am, another parent mixed in with the “non working” crowd.

Maybe I’m just projecting.

No one has ever overtly made me feel unwelcome in these groups, but I still can't shake the sense of being an outsider. It’s an alien thought always drifts through the social aether, nagging at my common sense.

Then, I hear my former row-mate again, I’ve always worked for a living...”

Yeah well, so have I. Every parent on the surface of the planet, who’s stayed at home, would back me up. Whatever your sex or gender, house parents are a special breed! We stand united against a society and economy that don’t always appreciate our sacrifice.

Ah, just like that, I feel the warm glow of my in-group connection. A group that, no matter their reasons, chose to stay home to take care of their children, and test the extreme limits of their sanity.

Not too long ago…
 
When picking up my daughter from her co-op playgroup the other week, I noticed all the mothers (and one lone father standing off to the side) sitting down to picnic. I caught the dad’s eyes and in them, I thought I saw desperation. Or, was it just a trick of the light? I wasn’t on a tight schedule but suddenly it was time for Mr. Mom to go.

“I’ll, uh, picnic with you all next time.”

Ah, men and our lives of quiet desperation.




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