I am a stay-at-home dad, and I’m not ashamed of it. The stigma of being male and staying home with my kids doesn’t bother me, and I firmly believe in the value of active parenting.
There is a growing number of dads staying home with the kids these days, which is great. Being a stay-at-home dad, however, brings with it some unique challenges that aren’t experienced by women who stay at home with their children.
An activity as benign as taking my daughters to the school bus stop or to the park raises all kinds of red flags with the moms who are already there with their own young ones. I get suspicious looks from all of them when I arrive, and they instinctively form a human shield between their children and me.
I understand it. They’re not used to men being there, and in today’s society, you never know where the next whacko is coming from. I have no interest in harming or taking their children, but they don't know that.
Maybe next time I should offer their kids some candy or bring a puppy for them to pet to show them that I’m harmless.
I’m a guy in my late forties, so despite being married, I possess the primal male desire to turn the heads of the fairer sex. If I was ever to be successful at this, I could then pump my fist and tell myself, “Yessssss! I still got it!”
Men my age sometimes turn to driving flashy sports cars to turn women’s heads.
I, however, drive a minivan.
It appears that women aren’t even remotely drawn to some married old fat guy with grey hair and bifocals, cruising through town in a Toyota Sienna with sticky handprints all over the windows and Ariana Grande blasting out of the stereo.
Damn the luck.
Naturally, my daughters like their hair to be styled. My wife has to do their hair before she leaves for work each day, though, because I can’t do hair. I can’t envision it, and even if I could, I don’t have the know-how or the manual dexterity to style it.
My oldest daughter was at a softball tournament one time, and she wanted her hair braided to stay out of her face. She waited until we arrived at the ballpark to announce this, and my wife hadn’t gotten there from work yet.
I tried my best, but my daughter ultimately looked like she had a deformed unicorn horn in the front and something that resembled Alfalfa’s cowlick sticking out of the top of her head.
One of the softball moms from our team walked over to us, looked at me like I’m an idiot, and said, “Really?” She then undid my mess and perfectly braided my daughter’s hair in about 30 seconds.
I can’t do hair.
Imagine this conversation over some suds and a game of euchre between friends on a Saturday night.
Man 1: “You wouldn’t believe the kind of week I had at work. We shipped out $5 million worth of iron widgets from our factory this week. I’m exhausted.”
Man 2: “I hear ya, man. I had to drive my tractor-trailer full of essential medical supplies through a blizzard in the Rocky Mountains this week. Uphill. Both ways. Not fun.”
Man 3: “My crosscut saw snapped in half, so I had to cut down this week’s quota of lumber at the job site using only my teeth.”
Me: “Can you believe that the grocery store didn’t double my coupon on diapers?! And they were out of puréed sweet potato baby food, too! Unbelievable!”
There are some exceptions, but most men that I know out-cuss women about 5-trillion-to-one. I can spontaneously weave a spectacular tapestry of profanity when I’m injured, frustrated or angry.
As a result, my daughters now have quite the vocabulary – one that they wouldn’t have if my wife was the stay-at-home parent.
One day, I was trying to reinstall the back seats in the aforementioned minivan after removing them to carry a large load. It was not going well, and I was already way beyond frustration when I smashed my finger in between the seat and the floor latch. A waterfall of volatile filth spewed from my mouth as a result.
What I hadn’t noticed was that my four-year-old had climbed into the van with me to watch me work. After my verbal mushroom cloud, she kneeled down next to me and sweetly asked, “What’s wrong, Daddy? Is the <bleeping> piece of <bleep> broken?”
I had to give her points for the correct usage of both words.
Two words scare the <bleep> out of me as the father of two girls nearing middle school age: breasts and menstruation.
I have absolutely no idea what to do when we reach that point.
Lord help me.
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