And so it has come to this: I’m not sure where I fit in the social order, but I’m sure I fit somewhere.
Last week I posted a video clip of Lou Dobbs’ show on Fox Business Channel where the panelist Erick Erickson made an ass out of himself by stating that the breadwinner mom/nurturing dad dynamic goes against the norms of biology. His point was, basically, that all throughout the biological world, the males are dominant and the females are the nurturers. (If you’d like to see Fox News’ own, Megyn Kelly, take Mr. Erickson to task on the subject, I recommend spending 10 minutes on this little video.) Needless to say, although I’m happy to say it, I disagree with Mr. Erickson.
However, I’m not sure how other men feel about the subject of breadwinner wives/mothers.
I’ve been a SAHD for a little over two years now. Most of the people I meet respond positively to my being at home full time. There have been a few, however, who fall into one of two categories:
Category 1: Does Not Compute
On a recent flight, I had the good fortune to sit next to an older gentleman who was headed to Albuquerque for a weekend of golf with some friends. He took a long look at my Texas A&M t-shirt and playfully asked, “So did you actually go to A&M or did someone just buy you the shirt?” I assured him that I did go to A&M (I don’t wear my Aggie Ring very often, but for most A&M grads it’s as compulsory as a wedding ring). We shook hands and exchanged the typical Aggie pleasantries — class year (him: ’70, me: ’02), major (him: finance, me: a little of everything with a diploma that says agricultural development…don’t ask). Then, what do you do for a living?
Class of ’70 has been in sales since he finished his time in the service and will retire as soon as his youngest daughter graduates from college in a few years.
“And you?” he asked.
“I’m a stay-at-home-dad.”
“Oh. Well, what does your wife do?”
Had I answered the question with a traditional answer, would Class of ’70 have asked about my wife’s job? I didn’t ask about his wife’s job; not to stick it to him or anything, but simply because I didn’t care and it wasn’t relevant. I don’t think Class of ’70 meant anything by the question, and I don’t really mean to judge him for it — although I admit there is a tone of judgment throughout this post. I’m pretty sure it’s biologically allowed — I just think he didn’t know how to handle the answer I gave him.
Category 2: Don’t work? You’re useless
I sat down for lunch with a friend of mine about a year ago. We got to talking about some of our mutual acquaintances and somehow he came around to saying, “Show me a man who doesn’t work and I’ll show you a useless son of a bitch.” First, don’t nobody talk about my mama that way! Second, you’re entitled to your opinion and all, but c’mon, man. Are you really going to say that to my face? Maybe he didn’t know that I stay at home with the kids (or kid, at the time). Maybe he did but didn’t care. Maybe he just didn’t think before opening his yapper. There’s even a chance he didn’t mean anything by it and considers being a stay-at-home-parent work.
Honestly, I’m not one of those SAHDs who will try to convince you that what I do is, in fact, work. Like most people, when I think “work,” I think of some kind of job where you earn a wage. I’m not saying it’s not work, but it’s not work-work. Get it? No? Don’t worry, I don’t even get it sometimes. Bottom line: Wife works. I stay at home with the kids. The question is, do we spend as much thought denigrating women who choose to stay home with their kids? Yes, some people do, but overall it’s widely accepted if a woman doesn’t work.
I guess what I would say to people — men, especially — who fall into either of the above categories is learn to live with it. The number of stay at home dads in America has doubled over the past decade. With the percentage of wives/mothers (I’m excluding single mothers here) earning more money than their husbands, I’d expect the number of SAHDs to continue to rise. It’s different, but it’s becoming normal.
In the words of the hippie who works at Uriah’s Heap Recycling Center on The Simpsons: Sounds like someone’s livin’ in the past. Contemporize, man!
What’s your opinion on SAHDs? Worthless dungheaps, regular dudes or uber-handsome-badass-childwranglers?