The other day I was out of the house with my three children. We were playing “I Spy”, the rules of which are a little fuzzy to my three year old, when I spotted a man with a stroller. Beck said “I see something white in the sky” and I guessed, for the fourth time in a row, “cloud” and again won the game. My attention once again my own I watched this guy walk down the street going seemingly no where in a hurry. He was just out for a walk. And he wasn’t pushing a toddler stroller, it was an honest to goodness infant stroller. A real baby. I immediately wondered what was wrong with this guy. What was this man doing in the middle of the week in the middle of the day walking a baby? Did he have a fight with his wife and he walked out? Was he lost? It just wasn’t right.
I would have to be unconscious in order to not see the unbelievable irony. I was a man in the middle of the day in the middle of the week out with my three young children, one of which was a baby. The only real difference was that he was walking and I was in a mini van, and in the battle for who looked less domesticated (an important male competition), I lost that battle.
I was shopping in one the humungous grocery stores the other day. Normally, I am the only male with children in the store. In the middle of the day, senior citizens rule these shopping centers. They are everywhere you go. Next comes women with children and then the rest of the world–people who if they are not single are at least enviably alone. I had never, until this day, seen a father shopping with his children at 11am on a Thursday. On this day, not only did I see such a sight, but I saw two fathers and they were each out with there three children. Yes, three. Just like me. I was shocked. After getting over the peculiarity of the day I found myself actually sizing these guys up; could these men really keep these kids in line without totally losing it? Surely these men were so domestically whipped by their wives that she was probably at home in a Mumu waiting for him to bring back the Bonbons. I was actually suspicious of the abilities of both of these men, who by all observable criterion were doing a fine job, to take care of their children.
Even I, a stay at home dad for ten years, are somewhat suspicious of stay at home dads. It’s just not traditionally manly. Or let’s just drop the traditionally part; It’s just not manly. Men can be husbands and fathers in our culture and remain the attractive sex symbols all men want to be. But when they are the primary care giver? Ya, sexy isn’t what comes to my mind either.
And yet…my marriage seems to work as do the marriages of thousands, well maybe hundreds, of stay at home dads. We have chosen a different way to live from the majority of society and there are real consequences to that decision. Consequences that make their way even into my own duplicitous mind. I wasn’t raised this way either. I have departed, for some very good reasons, from the culture in which I was raised.
Now it’s my turn: I spy something that doesn’t quite fit in, that is not necessarily wrong but isn’t completely right either, and is a total conversation stopper at dinner parties. Can you guess what it is