Friday, February 1, 2013

One day

A single day was all it took.

In fact, just a morning, to have someone approach me and my son and make a comment about how unusual it is to see a man caring for a baby.

You may well be aware that I am now a part-time stay-at-home dad. Just one day a week. A 20% chunk of the working week where I'm solely responsible for the happiness and continued existence of my son.

My wife and I started talking about the possibility of me doing some SAHDing quite early in Cam's life. Those early days of colic, and the associated unhappiness, fuelled discussions about how we could facilitate a measure of respite for Mrs L.

Funny, really, that we hadn't already been considering it. Mrs L is the higher earner of the two of us (neither of us are high flyers, big earners, or particularly career minded) so it would have made financial sense to lose some of my earnings rather than hers.

But, despite a substantial rise in the number of men doing a share of the care, it is far, far from being "the norm".

Which is exactly what the elderly man who sat next to me on a bench in the shopping centre told me, as I fought through Cam's squirmageddon to give him his milk. I braced for what I assumed would be a torrent of negativity, but it never arrived.

"It's the age of the role reversal!" he said. "Some people might think it odd, but I don't see a problem" he said.

I was quick to agree. We are just two short weeks into Cam's new mix of childcare, featuring: Mum, Dad, grandparents and nursery all getting their share of his time. Just two weeks, but no disasters as yet. He seems as happy as before, I am enjoying the arrangement and I'm fairly certain Mrs L is too. Long may it remain harmonious.

The one reservation of my new friend?

"I just hope he doesn't get confused about which one is mum and which one is dad"

I assured him that there was little risk of this; I am far bigger, hairier and less attractive than my wife.

With perfect timing, Cam broke from his bottle to babble his agreement: "dadadadadadadadad".

So, yeah, it might be unusual. But it's fucking ace.

13 comments:

  1. I start my compressed hours next week so I will become a stay at home Dad for one day a fortnight. I'm really looking forward to it. No idea if I will get any comments but we will see.

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  2. I think its great that you are getting that time to yourself with him. I must admit I am always surprised when I see Dads doing a stint of childcare. But this is more a reflection on my life I think as I grew up without my Dad and my partner is far far from hands on with our children. If he watches them while I go to the shop he calls this babysitting for me haha! Anyway hope you continue to enjoy it and it continues to work for your family!

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  3. I remember being called Mr Mum by someone once while I was with T. Or, the other comment I used to get was 'Giving mum a day off eh?' By the same old bloke, every time I saw him, every day. I would've hoped he might've put 2 and 2 together and realised.

    Great post. Hope you're enjoying your time but I'm sure you're loving every second of it.

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  4. Glad it's working out for you. As you know, my hubby does 2 days a week. He deals with his fair share of negativity but has got used to find his niche at swimming or in group situations. He doens't actively search coffee mornings. In fact I get quite annoyed on his behalf when I see "mum's" groups advertised. If Feminism stands a chance we need to embrace everyone being able to do anything they fancy. No doubt you are cherishing those moments you have alone with him, such an amazing opportunity. -the40yearold

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  5. I'm pleased to report that I've spent a lot more time with my two recently as well but still get some suspicious glances when I'm out and about with them. I don't know whether that's because I look shifty or if I just encounter bigots when I'm out. Who knows? I wholeheartedly agree with your assessment of what it is to spend time looking after little ones, though!

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  6. Great post. I had my share of patronising, even if well-meant, comments when I was a full-time SAHD. Worse still I think was begin snubbed by many women at the various groups I'd take the twins to. A minority, happily. We don't now consider it weird that women work so why is it still considered odd for a man to stay home & look after the children while a woman works?

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  7. I think it's good for them to have a mixture of people in their lives who are devoted to them, caring for them. Enjoy your precious time with him, it goes so quickly.

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  8. I think this is the more perfect combination of 'looking after' - the huge helping of family! Enjoy being with your baby - it is actually the most valuable thing you could do for him!

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  9. When my husband was a SAHD he was referred to as "babysitting" H. No, babysitting is caring for someone else's child not your own, idiots.

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  10. I think he is a very lucky boy indeed to have time alone with both you and Mrs L. And you are obviously a very lucky Daddy, he is a little dote x

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  11. I was a stay at home dad for five years and loved it.I never got the sort of negative or weird comments that other people seem to, it was all 'wow, that's lovely', and ''Well why not, I'm sure you're more than capable.' Which was nice. The thing I found was that I was certainly an outsider in the playground for much of my time and it always seemed people were on the backfoot with me at school.

    I can honestly say I loved it but it is the most challenging job I'd ever done. It should be valued more by the powers that be in general, male or female, the people caring for the children are some of the most important people in the world. The future is shaped by us and our kids.

    Great blog as always amigo.

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  12. It's kinda ridiculous that people should think it's odd in this day and age isn't it? If I go out with my 2 I often get smiles that say 'ahh isn't it nice that he's taken the kids to give his wife a break'. No actually I've taken the kids out because I want to have some time with them. Have you been to a class of any sort yet? Wait until you see some mums reactions there

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  13. I have a male friend with sole custody of his daughter and he has a lot of misunderstandings - I think it is great that dads are more hands on now and my partner has our son one day per week whilst I go to work as well. Hope you enjoy your days with Cam!

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