Today my smallest boy turned three years old.
And after watching children as a stay at home father for over six years, I've never specifically identified myself as that until fairly recently. I am, in fact, a stay at home father. I tend to remove myself from that category on the grounds that I also earn money as a contractor.....but at the end of the day, I'm a stay at home father. I'm at home, I have kids at home, I get my kids ready for school in the morning, watch them most days of the week during the day and then pick the older one up from school in the afternoon and hang with him and the younger one every day until 7 AM at night. I wash their clothes, cook their meals, clean up after them.
I am, in fact, a stay at home father. And I have been for over six years.
There are frequent periods where I tend to feel comfortable speaking with stay at home mothers, and I feel welcome to do so until my perspectives deviate from what a stay at home woman might experience. One such issue tends to be the issue of breast-feeding vs. bottle feeding. Obviously I'm personally limited in my options considering I've never been much of a lactator on account of I have a penis and more testosterone than is helpful for lactation. And despite that limitation I still have good, intelligent, well adjusted children. As it turns out an inability to lactate isn't the inhibition to healthy nurturing some might suggest.
There are always the little things that tend to set me outside the particular group I may be with at the time. I always feel a little on the outside with men who aren't sure how to navigate a grocery store...where to find salt, for example. It's occasionally embarrassing when I can rattle off the top of my head the cheapest places in the city to buy X, Y, Z...not just that I'm experienced enough with grocery shopping to know where to find an item in a large store, but I know which store has the cheapest X.
And there are always the daily comments from older women as I enter a building with my two young boys in tow "giving mommy a break today, eh?" or "you have your hands full today don't you?" as though the slice of my life they're seeing before them at the moment is an anomaly in my life rather than something I've been doing every day for six years. And of course they're the several times a year comment when I express frustration how I should try being with my kids and tending to food preparation and other house maintenance issues every day....................as though I couldn't possibly comprehend.
The notion that I'm at home, and a man, tends to conjure images of laziness.
And that sort of irritates me.
I've recently started to follow various blogs about stay at home dads. After six years. And you know what? It's nice to see similar thoughts and issues and challenges coming from others. It's nice to see that I'm not alone or incurably strange.