This week on Jerry Springer: “Stay-at-home dads who don’t drink beer or watch sports”

by doodaddy on March 18, 2007

Here’s another reason I don’t have many Stay-At-Home-Dad friends: I cry like a faucet.

I had downloaded some of the free Learn Along With Sesame episodes from iTunes. (Boobaby’s not doing TV yet, but I don’t know how long they’ll be free, so I wanted to take a look.) In one of them, Elmo gets so scared when there’s a grease fire in Mr. Hooper’s kitchen that he won’t go back inside. His red fuzzy hand shakes and his red fuzzy lips quiver, and I am instantly a blubbering mess. Later, Big Bird’s pen pal Gulliver visits Sesame Street and learns that you can make friends who aren’t birds like yourself — you can be friends with people and monsters and birds! “Oh, if only it were that easy, Gulliver!” I shout through my tears.

Despite this display of wimpery, I’m actually getting tougher. I used to cry at long-distance phone service commercials.

Even so, it’s a far cry from the SAHD attitude I’m seeing in the popular media. You know, the “Even though I’m a stay-at-home dad, I still watch sports, scratch my crotch, hide my feelings, and drink a lot of beer.” I don’t do any of that anymore, but then I never did. Super Bowl Sunday nauseates me slightly, although at least it’s easier to park at the zoo that day.

I read recently that there are on the order of 130,000 stay-at-home fathers in the U.S.: a minority, to be sure, but a significant enough one that I shouldn’t feel too lonely. On the other hand, I seem intent on slicing that minority thinner and thinner. Thoughts that strike me:

I’m not a stereotypical guy

  • I’m a stay-at-home dad
  • I stay home with Boobaby by choice (that is to say, not a laid-off guy who happens to stay home)
  • I cry when appropriate
  • I don’t like sports
  • I don’t know anything about investments
  • I have no ambition to have a powerful job
  • And so on…

Every time I think of something to add, I cut myself off from another subset of people, more clearly defining myself as “unusual” or “oddball.”

That’s silly, though, because I could just as easily embrace the parts of my existence that are universal — and not gender-related. Someone said to me once, “The last thing we need is a more thorough identification with a tribe.”

I am a stereotypical person

  • I’m a parent
  • I’m a spouse
  • I belong to numerous communities, both geographic and implicit
  • I am fascinated with other people
  • I’m getting older
  • I want to tread softly in the world but be heard widely
  • And so on…

Every time I add something to this list, I’m allying myself with a new group — a point of commonality, not divergence. Everybody is different, sure, but really, everybody is the same, too, and I’ll only learn anything by bridging the differences and embracing what we share.

Unfortunately, there’s a sort of comfort in looking at someone different (a beer-swilling, gruff, unemotional stay-at-home dad, for instance) and pointing out the disparity.

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tagged as in stay-at-home dad ·

{ 8 comments… read them below or add one }

CrankMama March 18, 2007 at 1:29 pm

Hey — like your site! And I think being a man and stay at home dad would be difficult for the reasons you point out…. hard to find others who you can befriend… But they must be out there somewhere.

Check out Mike Adamick Cry it Out….

Rachael

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Blog Antagonist March 18, 2007 at 1:50 pm

I’ve always said that my husband would make a far better stay at home parent than I am. You and he sound very much alike. He cries at everything. Not a bad thing in a guy. Just ask any woman.

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doodaddy March 18, 2007 at 3:08 pm

@CrankMama — Thanks, I appreciate the referral! I like Mike’s blog, and since we’re in the same town, I figure it’s only a matter of time before I see him in person at some playgroup or another. He’s so famous, though… What’s the etiquette? Do I have to act cool, and just say under my breath, “Hey, you… Cool blog.” Well, I guess I cross that bridge when I come to it!

I only fairly recently started reading your feed, and I’m enjoying it. Thanks!

Dd.

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doodaddy March 18, 2007 at 3:16 pm

@Blog Antagonist — Thanks for the vote of confidence! I certainly don’t mind being a cryer, I just notice that I have a harder time explaining that to my guy friends than my female ones. (On a related note, “girlfriends” — that perfect word that mommies can use for their inner circle — really doesn’t work for dads, does it?)

Then again, I don’t have many male friends, so it doesn’t come up much.

Cheers to your hubby, too!

Dd.

P.S. You’ve been on my blogroll for a while, but it looks like I had the wrong address until today. Sorry about that!

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Jeremy March 19, 2007 at 8:42 am

I’m also sick of the whole “I’m a stay at home dad but don’t worry I’m still a manly self-absorbed idiot” schtick. Thanks for being yourself!

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doodaddy March 19, 2007 at 2:05 pm

@Jeremy- Aw, you bet. It was actually the Noodad site that set me off, all that “let’s sell t-shirts by posing busty women in them” stuff. That sort of thing is pretty insulting when I’m looking for good information on diaper disposal cans, you know what I mean?

:0),

Dd.

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joansy March 20, 2007 at 7:31 pm

Any chance you’re in Las Vegas? My husband is a stay at home dad who is not laid off, doesn’t like sports, rarely drinks, and knows zip about investments. He definitely doesn’t fit in with the other pre-kindergarten moms at our kids’ school as he has no Juicy Couture sweats and no appointments with a tennis trainer. Basically, he’s a regular guy who is doing a swell job raising our almost 5 year old twin daughters but he’s missing some adult interaction and resorts to listening to lectures via podcast to hear an adult voice during the day. I wish he had an option for hanging out with other dads in the same boat.

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doodaddy March 20, 2007 at 10:30 pm

@joansy~ Alas, no, San Francisco. Funnily enough, though, I listened to podcast lectures, too, until I got disappointed in the quality.

Can I ask, though… let’s just say your young man really hit it off with one of the moms, started doing playdates with her, calling to tell her about the big sale at Baby Gap, complaining with her gently about how their spouses just don’t understand house-parenting… wouldn’t that feel weird?

Just curious. I’ve certainly been shy about approaching people for out-of-the-playground excursions if I thought my wife would feel weird. It’s probably all in my head, though.

Dd.

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