Mama One to Three is super-excited to have its first guest post writer!
Gary is a Floridian married to a Canadian. He is a New York City stay-at-home dad of one and another one on the way. He is currently trying to name and explain the phenomenon where his day ends, he’s accomplished nothing asked of him, he can’t remember why, and he’s exhausted. Follow him at @garyusina on Twitter. Editor’s note: I once very awkwardly invited Gary to a Mom’s Night Out.
Stay-at-home dads are different than stay-at-home moms. This should be obvious. My limited experience as a stay-at-home dad in New York City, however, tells me it bears repeating. And it should be repeated to everyone.
To stay-at-home moms at the playground: Don’t worry about me. I am a dad. I am here for the same reasons you are. Not to touch little Timmy. Yes, I have a weird beard. Yes, I see the signs about unaccompanied adults in playgrounds. See? I am walking over to our stroller now so that you can see I am here for the same reasons you are. Stop staring. Please go back to texting while your kid is throwing sand in the eyes of other children.
To other stay-at-home dads: I am a dad. You’re a dad. Are we not men? Please stop trying to be a mom. Stop talking and blogging about how it’s not that different, and we can be just as effective a parent as our wives. You will not be as good a mom to your child as your wife could be. NEVER. Whether you were laid off, work from home or choose the be the stay-at-home parent, you are still not mom. Just be dad. Your kid will thank you for it.
– Quit bitching about the fact that diaper and other child care related ads are targeted towards women. Dads buy diapers too. I get it. You sound like a woman complaining about the fact that beer ads target men. Stop it. Don’t lament the fact that dads only get special attention from marketers and media in June. You’re either fishing for swag and product or you are a colossal douche. Are you really upset that Huggies isn’t trying to connect with you on a personal and emotional level? They are diapers. If you need to have some sort of relationship or connection with the manufacturer of the product designed to keep your child’s feces off your couch, you’ve got other issues to address.
– No complaining about “Mommy and Me” events being called “Mommy and Me” events. This goes DOUBLE for lamenting the fact that you don’t get friended on Facebook, invited to lunch after class, or to Mom’s Night Out. The level of whining about this makes me stabby. Yes it makes you feel unwelcome…because you aren’t welcomed. Women with kids want to spend time with other women with kids. Their boobs are chapped and leaking and they want to bitch and support each other on how tough things are or share stories so that make them feel less alone in their situation. Your being there screws this up. Royally. Some of them won’t speak as freely and will feel the need to “clean things up a bit” and I’m not talking about the swearing. You can’t relate. You can’t. Stop trying. I love most of the mothers of my son’s friends. They’re great. Wonderful women. I don’t want to hear about their hemorrhoids. Because then instead of seeing “Lisa” and “Jane” at the playground they become “Episiotomy Horror Show” and “Nipple Tear.” You’ve gone through these things with your wife and ‘shared’ them as much as a man can. You don’t want to do this with other women. Trust me. It’s fucking terrifying.
-Fatherhood is not the new black. Stay-at-home dads are not unicorns. You are not a trailblazing pioneer pushing the boundaries of progressive parenting. Again, via choice or necessity you’re the one at home with kids. Indeed it is incredibly rewarding, and can also suck at times, but figuring it out is your job now. You don’t get a medal for attendance. Your parents got you off the payroll and out into the world at some point. You have an understanding of what they may have done right and what they did wrong. Use the good shit, toss the rest, and then look around. Keep it simple.
-Playdates. Wait until you’re invited. Do not initiate this. SERIOUSLY. ”Well that’s not fair.” Tough shit. lf you get invited to their house, then you can reciprocate. You have to see where this is awkward, right? Like EVERYTHING about the male-female dynamic, no woman is going to have anything to do with a man unless there is some sort of comfort level. Just because you are a stay-at-home parent doesn’t mean you stop being a guy inviting a woman to your house while her husband is at work. Men get paid a hell of a lot more for doing the same job in the work force. We don’t get to ask for playdates. It’s a pretty solid trade off.
To teachers, coaches and others addressing groups of stay-at-home parents: Don’t say “Oh, and Daddy too!” or “Mommies and Daddy!” Everyone gets it. Especially me. I am there as well. Please don’t call additional attention to my being there. Anyone upset that they aren’t acknowledged in the announcements about changes to the holiday schedule or that swimming lessons are canceled because someone crapped the pool is totally worth pissing off and is going to find something to complain about anyway.
So yeah. The rules are different. Stay-at-home dads seem different than mom or the nanny–because we are different. Instead of pretending we are all the same–with the same perspective, same approach and requiring the same attention–can we finally admit we can’t all be mom and see how that goes?