Friday, 22 April 2016

The Stay-At-Home Dad and why you're so damn hot.

Yes. I said it. I think this newish breed of dad is so damn sexy. But don't stress, ladies - my plus-sized booty and I are not looking to take your man. To me, and from afar, he epitomises sexiness and oozes attractiveness. You lucky, lucky bitches.
Mr Cut My Milk

I don't want you to think I'm putting down my husband. Absolutely not. He's a suit-wearing-7am-to-6pm- go-to-work-daddy. An exhausted-when-he-gets-home-daddy. He's sexy in his own right. He is the breadwinner, the hard-worker, my co-pilot, my best friend. Watching him comfort his daughter after she's fallen and grazed her knee, and kissing her owie away, melts my hard icy cold heart. 

But, the sexy stay at home dad (SSAHD) is hawt.

Why do we mums love you so? 

Because you get it. 

I mean - YOU really get IT.

You know what it’s like to wipe a wall clean only to have it covered in whatthefuck stickiness and snot the next minute. You know how it feels to have swept, mopped, vacuumed, ironed, folded, and tidied only to have it all turn to shit in an hour. You know what it's like to clean the toilet to discover (& normally just before a guest shows) wee dribbles from seat to floor, boogers on the flush button and poo on the ceiling. 
You know how long it can take to have a stubbornly independent 3 year old try to dress herself in a tutu, gumboots and a Collingwood Football Club beanie when you needed to be out the door 10 minutes ago. You know the frustration of having a 2 year old who will only eat yellow food smothered in tomato sauce and sandwiches cut in triangles with the crust cut off and served on his Paw Patrol plate. You know of the illogical and impossible 4 year old who wants her chocolate flavoured but pink coloured milk cut into small pieces and served in a glass slipper. Cut my milk, dammit. 

You know that superheroes get boo-boos that need kissing. You wipe the sad tears, the frustrated tears, embarrassed tears, and angry tears from grotty cheeks. You know that a messy house can also be a lived-in well-loved home. You get that parenthood is hard. That it can drive you batshit crazy on the best of days, that some days are too hard to get up off the couch, and the TV is the best babysitter and only the TV understands you. You get the conflicting emotions of wanting to strangle your child into next week and wanting to hold them so tightly that your heart could burst with love and pride, all in the space of 10 minutes.

You understand the exhaustion and the boredom, the quick meals and the battle-pickings.

You are the pioneers of your kind. 

You are part of a new generation of parents who challenge the traditional gender stereotypes of our parents' time. It would not have been an option for my dad to be a SAHD in the 70s and 80s. Women (typically) stayed home, raised children and kept the house. Men went to work, earned money and fixed the house. My dad worked, travelled for work (or so we thought - see my post about my dad in Preoccupied), mowed the lawn, fixed shit around the house, drank copious amounts of beer in longneck bottles, and watched a shitload of footy. I actually can't remember many daddy-daughter moments of fathering awesomeness. But that didn't really matter. His job was to bring home the bacon and mum's job was to cook it.

And, just like the mum who chose for whatever reason to return to full time work, SSAHDs cop their fair share of unsolicited and unwelcome opinions. Whatever you choose to do, someone will always want to tell you what they think (or gossip about it to friends over a skinny decaf latte in the playground – parenthood, it’s just like high school only crunchy

#Mr Mom Tumbler
It will be assumed that:
  • you lost your job
  • you can’t get a job
  • your wife has a better job
  • your wife is your boss
  • you just want to play all day
  • you watch sport replays all day
  • you lie on the couch all day
  • your wife doesn’t want to stay at home with the kids
  • you have no idea what you’re doing
and to add further insult to injury, have a look at Josh Bogle's list of 10 Insults I Hear As A Stay-At-Home-Dad for for more.

You’ll be under scrutiny and be given advice whether you like it or not. Obviously, being a man, you can take the jokes and the 'light-hearted' criticisms relating to your kid’s public meltdown because you wouldn’t get THAT banana, or that you made a sandwich of white bread and processed meat, or you let your child climb the tree, and that it’s cute that you’re trying to multi-task reading a shopping list while babysitting. Naaww, look at that adorable man trying!

For whatever reason you became a SSAHD, Good.On.You. You don't need to answer to anyone (except your wife if you didn't bring in the washing before it rained, dammit). There is nothing sexier than a man who can change a shitty nappy, bear hug their kid when the bell goes at school, think to take the washing off the line when it’s about to rain (did I already mention that??), and nod in sympathetic agreement and genuine concern when a fellow stay-at-homer, laments about the perpetual parenting nightmare you can't wake from, and that nothing can sway you from thinking you’re Bill Murray reliving Groundhog Day until you get it right. Reliving Groundhog Day. Groundhog Day. No wonder you are crush-able. Loves kids, tick. Cleans, tick. Cooks, tick. Listens to and validates your feelings, tickitty fucking tick.

I can imagine how hard, and yet how rewarding it could be to be the primary carer of your children while fighting the fading gender stereotype of what a dad should be doing. What a dad should be doing is simply that – be a dad the best way you can. Stay at home and embrace it. Go to work and embrace that. Be there for your kids as much as you can. Show an interest. Be a role model. Spend less money and more time on your kids. Be emotionally there. Rock the shit out of this parenting gig. Your kids will look back on these moments with love in their hearts. Don't ever feel you are failing as a provider. You are providing so much more than you'll ever realise.

Personally, I think you SSAHDs have a tougher gig than us SAHMs. I don't mean that I think you can't do the SSAHD job. I mean that, in some cases, some of you might feel isolated. Isolated from other men, from other mums, your own circle of friends, the adult conversation, from the working world. I think you may feel 'de-masculinated' to some degree while learning to be comfortable with the role reversal of your wife as the breadwinner, maybe in the eyes of old-school dads such as your own dad and grandparents. I don't know. I may be waaaay off. 

But what I do know is this:

  • You are doing an awesome job.
  • You are a provider.
  • You are no less of a man. In fact, in my eyes, you are more of a man.
  • You are teaching your children incredibly good values as a parent.
  • You are highly skilled. You have taken on the roles of chef, nurse, psychologist, ring master, umpire, chauffeur, hairdresser, educator, lion tamer, beautician. Put that on your resume.
  • Don’t neglect yourself. Don’t forget the man behind the dad. Do your thang, whatever that thang might be. You deserve it. You’ve earned it. Find it.
  • Do not tolerate being thought of as the ‘babysitter’.
  • You don't have to get it right all of the time.
  • You don't have to enjoy it all of the time.
  • You are so damn attractive.

Stay-At-Home-Mums are not perfect. Some of us pretend to be. Some may genuinely believe they are. We get dragged down by similar insecurities, the sanctomums and toxicity of the school yard. So sit down at the kiddie table, pour yourself another cup of invisible tea, nibble a chocolate cake of mud, let her do your hair, and dance to the music from Frozen for the 196th time. In doing that, you're already doing it better than me. I salute you.

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