Monday, February 3, 2014

here's to you, comrade.

Today, on a whim, I decided to take #3, #4, and #5 to the library while the Bigs were at school...ok, maybe not a totalwhim since we had movies due, but I could've just renewed them from the comfort of my own home instead dragging the mowglis out in the cold and letting them pick new books and movies...

aaaaanyway, so, we went to the library.  While there, I noticed there seemed to be an unusual amount of dads alone with their kids (3 to be exact) in the children's section.  I even wondered if there was a stay-at-home dad (SAHD) gathering going on or something, since I'll sometimes stumble across mommy groups at the library.  After the kids settled down at their at their respective play (Oak...settle?! hah! who am I kidding?), I started a rousing game of tetris on my phone (I'm old school, I know, feel free to mock) near-ish 2 of the dads, who were chatting together.  Tetris, while oh-so-enthralling and exciting, doesn't take a heck of a lot of mental concentration, at least not until the 10th level or so (the highest level I've reached is 14, just in case, you know, you were wondering and all).  This, of course, enables rampant eavesdropping.  Which, I did (I couldn't help it! They were sitting like 5 feet away from me!). Contrary to my assumption, they didn't know each other and were obviously just meeting for the first time.  One of the guys was a long-ish haired, north face-clad, skinny, hipster-ish type, while the other was a big, burly, athletic-looking man's man.  Regardless of their differences, it soon became obvious that they were pretty excited to meet another guy who was similarly occupied during the daytime hours.  As I listened to them chatting about their respective histories (one was a born and raised Kansas City-an, the other had lived all over the country), current employment situations (one stayed home while his wife worked during the day and then he worked evenings, while the other was a stay-at-home dad with no other job), and trade tips on teaching your kid to draw shapes and letters, I had a thought...

Stay-at-home dads are kind of the unsung heroes and victims of The Mommy Wars.  Is it hard to be a stay-at-home mom in today's society where women are lauded for having their cake and eating it too? Absolutely (although, for the most part, I just choose to literally have my cake and literally eat it too...I just have to make the cake myself first).  You know who has it even rougher, though?  SAHDs.  As much as we SAHMs whine and moan about working society looking down their employed noses at least our occupation is an age-old, socially acceptable one.  SAHDs, on the other hand, don't even have that.  SAHMs have long shouted the battle cry that women are the natural nurturers of mankind, so it makes complete sense that many of us would choose to stay home and do what we do best: nurture.  SAHDs don't have any of that.  What they have, instead, is the everyday battle of swimming against the current and kicking against the pricks.  They probably have a hard time fitting in with their daytime-employed peers and they probably have a bit of a rough time fitting in with the SAHMommy-peers as they commiserate about breastfeeding and husbands who get to eat business lunches instead of the kids' leftover chicken nuggets (think I'm bitter much?).  Men have long been assigned as the breadwinners of the home and SAHDs are, well, often not.  It would just be hard.  That's all.  Hard on them to give up that breadwinning status.  Hard on them to make friends.  Hard on them to sort through advice, articles, products, etc. not geared towards them.  Hard to deal with mean men who act they the traded in their masculentity for a babysitting gig.

Just hard.

So, from one stay-at-home parent to another, I applaud you.  I'm impressed, dads, that you're choosing this route and doing this job.  It's a hard one, I know, I'm right in there in the trenches next to you, stay-at-home comrade.  Know that I'm impressed that you're ignoring the naysayers and putting what's best for your kids and family before your own ambitions and society-accepted definition of masculinity.  Nothing, in my opinion, is more masculine than a dad that puts his family first...which you're doing every. friggin'. day.  So, thanks.  Thanks for showing society, one kid at a time, that it's ok to think being a parent is the best and biggest gig in the world.

'cause it is.