I’d like to think this blog is more than just a way for me to force praise out of family and friends by emailing them or calling their houses during dinner to ask what they thought of a post (I know you’re there, Grandma, pick up the phone). To me, DadisthenewMom(.internet) is a place where prospective Stay At Home Dads can do some hard-hitting research into a career of reduced credibility, apparent ineptitude, and a lifetime of vague out of place awkwardness. For educational purposes I have categorized the five most common types of people you will meet.
The Wink and Nudger. While still pregnant, the Spouse and I did a lot of thinking about who was going to be the primary caretaker of our child. We settled on me, I was honored, I accepted the position, motion carried. Try telling that to anybody. After The Child was born I visited a prestigious academic research hospital to have some of my more tender parts wondered over by the best and brightest. While filling out a form, the doctor asked me my age, weight, hairstyle and occupation. “Stay at home dad,” I said, thinking nothing of it. The man glared at me, “You mean unemployed, don’t try to cover it up.” He then erased the form vigorously, as though I had tricked him into writing “s-t-a-y” before he uncovered my ruse. I assured him that I chose my occupation consciously and considered it legitimate work. He rolled his eyes, winked at me and settled for “Occupation: None.”
The Childless Stranger. Before my kid was one year old, I was given unsolicited parenting advice on a daily basis from a host of unqualified nobodies. The advice followed a specific template which made it easier to detect and discard. Compliment, critique, solution. “Awww, what a cute little girl! Yes you are, a cute little girl who should have a blanket on! It’s ok, (place hand on shoulder, look me in the eyes) her mother probably sent one along, I’m sure you’ll be able to find where you lost it.” I got this one a lot. In the summer. In Ohio. Ever see an old oil painting of a farmer baling straw in a blanket? No? There’s a reason for that.
The Copy Editor. From The Child’s birthday zero to one, I was a bumbling caricature in the eyes of the world. Man with baby? That can’t be right, either he’s a performance artist or they’re shooting a movie. A baby isn’t the kind of thing to be left in the care of her Dad. He’d trade her for some comic books or let her play with bang snaps. Birthday one through two saw a relative cease-fire on the commentary. I got looks, but no hard evidence what they thought of my buffoonery. Since Two, we’ve shifted gears. The Child is verbally precocious. That’s actually a phrase she says, “verbally precocious,” thanks to her babysitter. When I tell people she is two, the Copy Editor quickly corrects me, “you mean three, go on.” Not a shift in conversation, but as in “let’s get the facts straight, continue with what you were saying”. When asked what hospital we delivered at I’d say, “None, we had her at home,” which I was informed meant ‘hospital birthing suite.’ The Copy Editor knows best.
The Quiverfull. Arrows go in a quiver, the more arrows the better, and then the quiver is full, hence the name. To these people, vaginas are like Pringles. Once you pop, you just can’t stop. We have one kid for now. Maybe there will be a time when The Spouse and I will decide to have more. Maybe. I’m busy with this one right now. These people are jump right in with the most vacuous conversation ever. “Oh! You have a kid! When are you having more kids? Are you having more kids soon? You should have more kids! Your daughter is 2, isn’t it about time to have more? MORE KIDS? HAVING MORE KIDS YET? BABIES? KIDS YET? KIDS BABIES BABIES KIDS MORE MORE MORE!”
The Judge Dread. As a dad with a kid, a kid I stay at home with, the type of person I’ve found least accepting of the fatherly arts just so happens to be a Stay At Home Mom. That’s right. Now to be fair, the vast majority of moms staying at home are fine examples of the craft and I tend to associate with the upper crust of them. If you and I have ever hung out, consider yourself to be quality. If you have never met me, well, I would put your status at “pending” but odds are likely that we would be cool. There are some moms, however, who have rather rudely informed me, without provocation, that it simply isn’t acceptable for me to raise my kid. Some are nice enough to start by ‘feeling bad for my family’s situation’ what with me having to struggle in my ill fitting role. A father, “can’t understand how to treat a child, no man can,” is an example of the many insulting quotes I scribbled down after one of the more heinous mothers descended on me. When I countered with the fact that my own father had taken a hand in my rearing, lovingly and with great effect, I was told, “then that’s why you mistakenly believe you can raise your child.” Yeah, that specific one was a bit of a Copy Editor too.