Breaking down stereotypes... with an ax.
Nothing drives me to stand up for full time Dads more than when I'm at the grocery store with my three children and someone says, "Got your hands full today, huh?" I look at them dead in the eye with the same face I had years ago in Afghanistan when I would relay over the radio a message explaining that our forward operating base was under attack by mortar fire, and simply say to them, "Everyday." I'd love to explain to them that it's patronizing to assume that this is a once in a blue moon experience for us. I want nothing more than to just grab them by the shoulders and shout about how I'm a stay at home Dad and I deal with far worse than a little chaos at the super market. My first instinct is to explain that they should not judge a Man's worth or character by the errands he runs. I promise one day I'll ask them if they'd say that to a woman. I keep my calm, I smile, nod and I move passed my gut reaction.
People are moving passed the stereotypes for women. It's offensive to suggest that a Mother should be at home raising children instead of in the office making a living. Since WW1 the females of our society have fought tooth and nail to gain equality. I'd never want to discredit that struggle. I can only imagine the problems Women had to deal with even just two generations ago. I would like to note, however, there has been little movement in the other direction. When it comes to parenting, the world still looks to Women. As if Men are incapable or unwilling to foster, raise, nourish, or care for an entire childhood, society casts Dads into a moving trend like hipsters and bearded baristas. I cannot tell you how many times I've had to change a diaper on a public restroom floor because there's no changing station in the Men's restroom. The lack of baby products aimed at Fathers is sadly low, even though stay at home and single Dads are on the rise. There are minimal national organizations or support groups catering to Dads. The overall mentality of most Americans is skeptical of grown Men staying at home with children all day. I plan to change these stats.
I was a Man before I became a Dad. I'll never stop being a Man, just as I'll always be a Dad. I don't need to wear a fanny pack or dance like Rihanna to be a good Parent. No, I'm not a vegan. I don't baby proof our home and you're damn straight I make them do push ups at the mall. I'm not going to change who I am just because our culture thinks kids need to be raised a special, soft kind of way. I grill steak, shoot guns and drink beer while building stuff. I'm a Man. People can either get used to it, or get over it; but I won't tolerate a tilted scale in the world that surrounds me because of my occupation.
In the end, if she can do it, I can too.