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.