Fatherhood or something like it…


That’s twice that it’s happened now. TWICE! It’s really starting to annoy me. The first time I could just pass it off as some idiot who didn’t know any better. The second time, I’m really starting to wonder what is wrong with society. Is it just me? Am I the weird one, that complete strangers are making such brash assumptions and then pointing their assumptions out to me, as if I need to be told that they don’t think I’m the father or man that I should be.

I suppose I should back up a bit. The first time was fascinating. I was home with the pawns (forgive the chess reference, I mean my children). The pawns were sick and it was Daddy’s turn to stay home. Which is wonderful, I love it when I get a day with them. Anytime with the pawns is time well spent in my opinion. The pawns seemed to be feeling better so I thought a midday walk would serve them well. I loaded the stroller and off we went. We were about halfway through the walk when our path on the sidewalk was blocked by a woman. I tried to go around, but it was clear that she meant to block our path. I was getting ready to turn around and just go a different way when she spoke. I don’t remember the exact exchange of words but it went something like this.

“Do you need a babysitter, so you can get a job?”

“Excuse me?” It took a second to sink in that she had really just asked me that. I gathered all my calm chi I said, “I have job, a very good one, I’m just staying home today because the kids aren’t feeling well.”

“Where is your wife? She should be taking care of them. She must not be a very good wife.”

Suppressing every ounce of rage I had at this point I calmly explained, “My wife also works, we both have very good careers and we split our parental duties as evenly as possible. Today it is my turn and my pleasure to take care of the children.”

“If your children are sick your wife should stay home.”

“Some days she does, today she couldn’t. She wanted to, but she did it the last time so it was my turn to take time off.”

“You should be at work; you are the man of the house.”

At this point I was more than done with the conversation. “Can I help you with something? It’s time for me to get going.” (Before I break your face)

“Would you like me to babysit for you, so you can go to work?”

This woman wanted me to hire her to babysit my pawns. I would never let this woman within 1000 yards of my pawns ever, let alone pay her to take care of them. I calmly told her no, and promptly crossed the street (Against the light, in the opposite direction of where I was going, just to get away from her).

I let the experience slide off my back. I laughed about it later. I forgot about it, and then incident number two occurred. It was the weekend. One of the things I routinely do on the weekend is take my pawns to the park and/or the library, both are right next to each other. The pawns had just gotten a new wagon and they were eager for me to pull them around. We were just outside the library when a woman saw us and smiled. I smiled back and the pawns were gleefully playing around and squealing as I pulled them along. Then a sour frown turned on the woman’s mouth and she spoke (this is where it goes downhill).

“Stay at home dad, eh?” She said this! She said this as she cocked her hands on her hips and shook her head. (I wish I was making this up)

I gave it a second to permeate my mind and I gave her the most quizzical look I could muster. “I’m sorry?” As if I couldn’t hear what she just said.

“You must be a stay at home dad.”

“Why is that?”

“You’re out with the children. Not too many men would be doing that. They’re usually out working all the time.”

“It’s the weekend.”

“So? You aren’t working. You must be a stay at home dad. Your wife must be working.”

“We both work, during the week. It’s the weekend, we’re both off today.”

“So why isn’t she taking care of the kids?”

With the rage of burning sun as suppressed as possible at this point, “She spent quite a bit of time with them this morning, now I’m spending time with them.”

“Oh you two don’t get along?”

What the…I don’t even know how to respond to that… I don’t even know where that comes from. What kind of assumption is that? “We get along just fine; I’m just spending time with my children because it makes me happy.”  I bid her a good day and continued to our adventure at the park.

Is it just me? I thought that’s just what father did. They take care of their children. They love their wives, and work together with them as parents, together. Is that not normal? Together does not mean mom does everything. It does not mean that dad works all the time, and when he’s not working there must be something wrong with him. It does not mean that not working and spending time with his pawns somehow makes him less of a man. Even if I were a stay at home dad, I would find these two encounters somewhat disturbing. I would love to be a stay at home dad. I eat up every second that I get with my pawns. They are my life, my world. I can’t get enough time with them, ever. Sure we all have our moments as parents where we just need some rest, and to get some time away from our pawns, but that’s what work is for. By the end of my work day I want nothing more than to spend as much time as possible with my pawns. I live for the long weekend where I get an extra day with them. That is what being a father is to me. That’s what being a man is to me. I am having trouble with the concept of those who seem to think otherwise.

fatherhood

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24 comments

  1. […] FATHERHOOD OR SOMETHING LIKE IT… (themathmaster.wordpress.com) […]

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  2. I am flabbergasted that strangers feel entitled to come up and share these bizarre and hurtful biases with you! On the other hand, I’m delighted to read your responses to them. I believe my husband will enjoy this post immensely.

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    1. Well it was a bit of a shock to me too. It was difficult to respond in the face of such draconian attitudes, but I did the best I could.

      Thank you so very much for the follow and the tweet sharing this story. An even bigger thank you for stopping by and commenting.

      I’m glad you read and enjoyed this post so much. I expect your husband will like it as well.

      Have a wonderful weekend.

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  3. […] The post with the most comments and views: Fatherhood or Something Like it […]

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  4. Wow people are so dumb! I love that you spend time with your kids. I have a friend who is married and when she wants to do something without her baby she asks her husband to “babysit”. It makes me SO MAD! The world needs more engaged, and loving dads. The who you spoke with are the type of women wouldn’t let their husbands help them care for their children and then were secretly holding a grudge when they were tired and needed a rest and had no one to lean on for support. Your wife/spouse/partner is one lucky gal and so are your kids. Keep up the good work.

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    1. I can think of no higher calling than to spend as much time with my pawns as possible. I just love them so much. Sure I get tired of them and want a rest every now and then. What parent doesn’t? But that doesn’t mean I don’t want to squeeze every last second out of them that I can. My queen may be a lucky one, but I like to think I got the better end of the deal.

      Thank you so very much for reading and commenting. I simply love engagement on my posts. It makes the writing worthwhile in a whole new way.

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  5. Wow, unbelievable! These are probably the same people who consider it “babysitting” when a father takes care of his children. I applaud you for splitting duties evenly so that you both can enjoy your children, and your children can enjoy both of you!

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    1. If it hadn’t happened I almost wouldn’t believe it myself. Thank you for the kind words. As a parent I find it an uphill battle to spend anytime with my children, let alone a little extra time as just daddy time. I truly cherish those moments.

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  6. Great post. Your take on fatherhood is fine by me. These two women you encountered sound somewhat narcissistic. The best thing to do with a narcissist is to ignore them.

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    1. I think narcissist is probably the most apt description. Sure I laugh it off and ignore the encounters later, but in the middle of it that’s kind of a hard thing to do. Mostly because hindsight is always 20/20. In the moment you are so busy accessing and being taken aback you can’t help but go with your gut. Thank you for stopping by and for your comment. Also, thank you for the follow too. Have a wonderful day.

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      1. Then I had best follow you, my good Sir! Have to earn the thanks.

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  7. […] Mathmaster at the Hungry Dog’s Lair – always surprising and interesting, but his post Fatherhood or something like it is one of my […]

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  8. It’s hard to fathom that anyone could fail to recognise the joyful and loving gift you’re sharing with your kids, let alone give you a hard time for it.
    I loved reading this, though. Your writing is wonderful – funny and insightful and moving.

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    1. It still remains a mystery to me as well. I even had a third incident occur recently. But I suppose that is another post for another time.

      Thank you very much for your kind words and for reading my work. It is very much appreciated.

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  9. […] is often derided by people for being a stay at home mom. This post immediately reminded me of my “Fatherhood or something like it” post. Now Matt is a very successful blogger and writer, especially compared to me. But since his […]

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  10. […] is often derided by people for being a stay at home mom. This post immediately reminded me of my “Fatherhood or something like it” post. Now Matt is a very successful blogger and writer, especially compared to me. But since his […]

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  11. Mark C. · · Reply

    I’m a single dad, and I stay home with my son whenever I can. I’ve had similar experiences. The worst is when women I have dated have gotten upset when I chose to spend time with my son vs. doing something with them…needless to say, things go downhill in a relationship after that.

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    1. I can’t imagine the relationship lasting too long after that. I’m sorry to hear you’ve had similar experiences. Perhaps the world would be a better place if more parents spent more time with their children, without having to worry about the way people might judge them. Thank you so very much for stopping by and commenting.

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  12. This is so insane that I have a hard time even believing it. What kind of people have such audacity to question your life, and so harshly! I found your link on Matt Walsh’s blog – and I was equally dumbfounded by HIS post of this nature. Where do these people think children should ideally be?? Daycare? With a random stranger (aka: babysitter). Weird. Very weird. I wish you could be a SAHD, and everyone else who wanted to be, could. Children deserve their parents. And anyone who says otherwise has to be deeply confused, IMHO. Cheers to you, for enjoying your time with your pawns and craving more of it.

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    1. Oh thank you for reading. If it hadn’t happened to me I would have had a hard time believing it too. But it did happen. Twice! I love Matt’s stuff, he’s a great writer. I hope he doesn’t mind me linking back in the comments. But his post touched me and reminded me of what I had written. Someday I’ll hit the lotto and then I can stay at home always. I completely agree, children deserve their parents. And parents deserve their children. Thank you again for stopping by, and commenting.

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  13. I have experienced situations very similar, but when asked if I’m a stay at home dad, I have to answer “yes”. Oh the lashings!!! Great read!

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    1. I would love to honestly answer yes to that question. Perhaps someday. Life being what it is seems to require that I earn a living through my current job.

      Thank you very much for stopping by and commenting with such kind words.

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  14. What in the name of heaven? Do you live in Utah or in Amish country?

    I like the “pawns” 🙂

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    1. You would think so wouldn’t you? Sadly no, I live in Maryland, right next to capital of the United States. What should be the pinnacle of progressiveness as a symbol to the rest of the country – and this type of attitude is what saturates… well maybe “saturates” is a bit of a jump. But I assure you I was quite taken aback all the same.

      Thank you. I was looking for a good hook to refer to my children and wife. I thought the chess homage was a good one since I enjoy the game so.

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