When you are a stay-at-home parent, you are obliged to accompany your kids everywhere, at least until they get old enough to get themselves places. We tag along to doctor’s visits, to classes, and to birthday parties. That’s part of the job.
I recently attended a Nick Mom social event (without the kids) where Wendy Williams moderated a panel of actresses who play mothers on a new block of shows on Nickelodeon. Throughout the night, I laughed at the many stories the mothers shared because, as a stay-at-home dad, I could identify. What active parent hasn’t had trouble at some point understanding their child’s 3rd grade math assignment? Close to the end of the night, the discussion turned to what it is like to take your child to one of their classmates’ parties.
As the discussion moved along, Ms. Williams asked the mothers about their feelings when “That guy” shows up with the kids to a birthday party. In slightly mocking terms, she referred to the dad as “the Mr. Mom type.” She inferred that she doesn’t like Mr. Moms because she’s a baby boomer and that’s not the kind of man she is used to. She also mentioned that she doesn’t like having a man around when she wants to “sit at a table and talk about tampons,” and noted that it would be weird to discuss feminine hygiene in front of a guy. As she talked, I wondered how many people in the room were looking at me out of the corner of their eyes.
This attitude towards stay-at-home dads is not uncommon. At some point, just about every at-home dad has encountered an icy reception upon entering a “mommy and me” type of class. I have. I’ve been the lone guy in many of rooms full of moms and babies. I’ve gone to birthday parties holding a child by one hand and a present in another, as strained smiles greeted me.
Let’s get something straight: I don’t go to these functions because I want to, but because my kids have been invited and the day is important to my kids and their friends. And most of the time, while the moms are sitting around that table, I’m entertaining the kids. Times are changing, and more and more dads will be showing up to their children’s events and parties. So those that share Ms. Williams’ sentiments should get used to it.
And by the way, we don’t care if women want to talk about “feminine” issues in our presence. We watched the births of our kids and we have mothers, wives, and even daughters. We’re quite familiar with those issues by now.