Daddy Blogger On The Loneliness of Being a Stay-at-Home Dad

Thursday, Dec 17, 2009 11:00am  |  COMMENTS (7)

Writer Mike Steere moved with his family from LA to Montclair last year when his wife accepted a postion in NYC. The move to the suburbs wasn’t so easy, but he keeps reminding himself Montclair is so close to NYC. Being a stay-at-home dad ain’t so easy either. They don’t get invited into the mommy cliques and they don’t hang together. But he dearly loves what he does and writes about it in Pater-Familias, a blog about the challenges and joys of parenting the school-age child, surviving suburb-shock, and being a dad in “Momland.”:
spray cleaner.jpg

Why Don’t SAH Fathers Hang Together Like Moms?
A Man Must Do His Chick Stuff Alone.
When I was just out of grad school and pornography was still analog old media, I ran into a guy I knew in a porn shop. A good friend, actually, who lived in the same apartment complex and knew my wife and hung out with us.
Awkward moment, right? Shameful, guilty, embarrassing …
Nah. We laughed, and everything was cool.
This replays now because of a laughless, uncool, skull-crusher weird encounter I just had with a friend, neighbor, and fellow SAH dad.

School-day afternoon at the A&P. I push a cart with a light cargo of milk, eggs, random mark-downs, and Fantastik with bleach. And here’s my friend scoping laundry detergent.
This should be just great. I like this guy and admire his extreme high-risk stay-at-homing – seven year-old triplets! We should be all, “Hey, man” and “You like the Tide? I do unscented Cheer and Clorox II Colorsafe …” If not dirt-obliterating chemicals, which I happen to love, we could talk Red Tag specials or what’s up after school. Or dinner, weekend plans, possible playdate slots, wives in or out of town, basement seepage. Or just a laugh. Two men facing a wall of soap. Got to be some entertainment here, right?
No. After “hello” things go black-and-white, like bad vampire entertainment. We cannot speak full sentences or look each other in the face.
Gotta run. No, more like flee for my life.
So what happened?
Shame, that’s what happened. We do what we do — A&P runs, laundry, tasks requiring Fantastik — but we are ashamed to do it around other males, even when they do it, too.
A man must do his chick stuff alone.
Yeah, yeah, narrow culturally defined gender roles we should step out of like old and orange Crocs. Forget it. The lizard man-brain will not die. It sleeps, for sure, but not in the presence of its own kind.
And this, I think, is how come stay-at-homing is a lonely road, and why dads don’t hang together like the moms. Especially in this town, the full-time moms are screwed-up about their own deals — suburb shock, mourning lost careers and formerly exciting New York City selves, nonsurgical lobotomizing caused by too much time with kids — but they’ve got each other.
Just check out the chicks at the A&P, who are totally cool with bumping into each other. They don’t shut up, for gods sake, and forget they’re blocking the aisles.
Must be nice.
Really, bro, how come this is so lonely?

Illustration by Peter Arkle.

7 Comments

  1. POSTED BY Jenn  |  December 17, 2009 @ 11:29 am

    My dad was a SAH dad in central-Jersey when my younger brother was born. He was good friends with all the local moms, though, and not afraid to do his “chick stuff” with them. A couple of the moms in our apartment complex did not have cars at the time, so they would carpool with my dad to the grocery store. I called them and my dad the Mom-Squad.
    One day, there was a woman giving out coupons for a a dish detergent product and she refused to give him any coupons because he was a man. I remember one of the moms getting in a shouting match with the woman in the middle of the grocery store and taking the opportunity of a heated moment to convince my dad to buy me a candy bar. He ended up writing an angry letter (this was before email was popular) to the company and they sent him HUNDREDS of dollars worth in coupons.
    My dad ended up going back to work (with 2 jobs) a year or so later, so it was really hard going from seeing him all day to practically never. My mom had passed away when when I was younger so, to me, there was nothing more awesome than my dad being at the bus stop when I got home from school.
    I can’t wait to see him, now, for Christmas so I can have him tell me the dish detergent discrimination story all over again, even though I was there!

  2. POSTED BY profwilliams  |  December 17, 2009 @ 1:34 pm

    File this under: BITCHIN’ ABOUT THE LIFE CHOICES I MADE
    (And wasn’t this same kinda thing new and fresh in like, 1995?? C’mon. I feel like I hit the time capsule button on this one. What’s next? A woman’s day working with men? That’s topical and fresh……)

  3. POSTED BY PAZ  |  December 17, 2009 @ 1:53 pm

    Pops,time to grow up .

  4. POSTED BY Generically named Mike  |  December 17, 2009 @ 3:44 pm

    Somebody call this guy the waaambulance.
    Also, to echo the Prof: 1955 called and they want their machismo back.
    I know two dad’s who are stay at home (well, one SAHD and one who only works every other week).
    Both are proud members of their local “Mom Squad”.

  5. POSTED BY walleroo  |  December 17, 2009 @ 3:56 pm

    I know exactly what you mean! The other day I was walking down Park Street, and I hear this crash. I turn around, and this guy is lying face down on the curb, surrounded by glass. Apparently he was thrown out of Sharon Miller’s second floor digs and landed on the concrete. Amazingly, he was alive! He picked his head up and looked right at me. I recognized him! It was whatsisname, my old neighbor. We used to be buds when the kids were little and we were doing the daddy thing. “Sam!” I say. “Dude, wassup?” And right there he just puts his face down and falls asleep. What an a-hole!
    From that, I drew the conclusion that each one of us is alone, we go through life by ourselves, and then we die, and we’re still by ourselves. Oh, And for guys, it’s not any better or worse than for gals, but nobody’s really written about guys walking down the street so much, so that’s what I’m doing. What a bitch!

  6. POSTED BY B  |  December 17, 2009 @ 5:21 pm

    This is a problem that I would love to deal with.
    My wife needs to become a successful author.

  7. POSTED BY tudlow  |  December 17, 2009 @ 7:50 pm

    Egads, grocery shopping is “chick stuff.” Right, glad that point was driven home. I see lots of men pushing the cart but I will now look at them with an appropriate mixture of empathy and deep admiration for doing a woman’s work of buying food. If I approach the fish out of water male in the grocery store and ask him about his fantasy football league, will he feel better? I sure hope he doesn’t shove his bags in the back of a grocery getter or worse yet, a minivan–that would push him over the edge.

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