|He turned 8 (months) on the 28th!
I never thought stay-at-home parents had it easy but I was shocked just how much work it is. Whether caring for the baby, trying to assist with daily things like dishes, or attempting to carve-out a bit of free time to read some comics or write a blog post (I am typing this now while he is having a snooze), you are often busy as a stay-at-home parent. As it is good to go out-and-about, Clarkson and I will often take excursions to visit story-times or parent groups, get groceries, pick-up needed household items, browse antique/thrift shops (for stuff to sell online) or swing by the comic shop to check-out what comics are hot. In the process of doing this I have received a number of comments as a Dad out with his infant son that could be described as, "Off-putting." Some come from a place of kindness and are just misunderstandings or casual ignorance. Other statements have hurt my heart to a surprising degree and really stung. Therefore, in the interest of educating people and sharing, I shall provide some of incidents and statements that have actually occurred so as to hopefully show people some of the things that aren't the best to say to a stay-at-home Dad.
Some Things Not to Say
|Just tell me he's cute, no need for weird comments.
This statement seems to assume that, "Daddy," doesn't usually care for the child, and that usually, "Mommy," does. It discounts that the other parent could be deceased or a man. It is grating but comes from a place of simply trying to make conversation, I've found.
"Your wife let you guys out alone?"
This came from an older woman shopping at Walgreens who saw me with my son and went on to share how her husband and children never were allowed out alone for long because he did a terrible job. She went on to describe how when her kids were three that her, "Hubby," took them out for the afternoon to run errands and when they got back she asked if they had eaten lunch and he said he hadn't fed them as, "They didn't say they were hungry," which she followed-up with a laugh. I wasn't sure how to respond to her shock that a man could be capable of taking care of a baby so I simply smiled and said that was quite the story. I fought the urge to ask why she had married a dumbass.
"So, you're Mr. Mom?"
I hear this from older folk a lot. I get it, there was that movie with that title, but when you say that you're horrendously genderizing child-care. I mean, does that mean my wife is Mrs. Dad? I am not Mr. Mom, I am his Dad and I care for our son while Mom is at work, then she comes home and we equally share in the responsibilities of his care--you know, like a healthy and functioning couple.
"You must have tons of free time!"
This one usually comes from Dads expressing jealousy as how easy it must be for me to, "Get to stay home and relax and play all day." I've never had a mother who stays home with her kids say this (or any other seahorse dads I have met) as anyone who had stayed home with a baby actually knows it takes up more time than can be imagined. If you work and your partner stays home with the children please be aware they are in fact working hard and you seem kind of dismissive when you act like they are living on easy-street and kicking-back all day.
"Don't you feel like you're wasting away your potential/time?"
It shocks me when I get this from people who have a spouse that stays home. I mean, I don't know, do you think all the people who take a break from the work-force to help care for their kids are wasting their potential? If you do in fact have a spouse who stays home you apparently think she or he is wasting time? I feel like my time is valuable and the amount I use to help care for our son is an investment rewarded every time he smiles, laughs, or lets out a joyful coo as I hold and rock him. If you think being a stay-at-home parent is such a waste of time why do you let your spouse do it?
"Wouldn't you rather have Mommy at home than Daddy?"
A mutual friend of my wife and I was talking at Clarkson when this slipped out. I wanted to get angry, yell, "What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" and otherwise throw a fit, but that wouldn't have helped anyone. Instead my wife and I simply smiled and commented that Clarkson loves having me at home and my wife loves having her awesome job and getting to come home to Clarkson and Daddy at the end of the day. It was an older woman (you may notice the theme that older folk tend to be more thrown by a stay-at-home Dad) so it was probably her just finding our family setup against what she considers the norm. Still though, why would you say that in front of both of us, considering you are a friend to us each? It felt as if they were insinuating I suck at being a parent because there goes Dumbass David, the man barely competent enough to care for his own son! I of course know that wasn't the idea, but yeah.
It Isn't All Hurtful
|He kept spitting-up so he was just chilling in his diaper when we took this.
His smile indicates that was his plan all along.
Those warm thoughts really made my day and illustrated someone who, "Gets it." Namely, that whether you choose to work or stay at home, the key is to love your children and provide them what your family feels is the best care. That could mean both parents working and the baby going to day-care or having a relative care for him/her, it could mean someone stays home, the result could be anything and as long as your son or daughter is fed, diapered, and happy, you're doing what is the optimal choice for your household. At the end of the day it's about what is best for your child after all, right?