Gender Bending

23 Feb

I feel a bit of a fraud pushing Max around the streets of St Kilda (in his pram, I’m not literally physically pushing him, that would be wrong). There is that nagging feeling that I should be bringing home the metaphorical bacon or putting the figurative bread on the table. Sometimes mums walk past me and they look at Max, then look at me and seem to be trying to figure out what the connection is. “Look Jennifer, there’s a man with a pram and what looks to be a baby inside it, but how could this be?” “I don’t know Linda but perhaps the police should be informed?”

I had a situation the other day at the library (lots of my situations take place in the library or the swings these days), there were a group of mums doting over their little bundles of joy. I made eye contact, offered up a little  dad joke, registered what I thought was genuine laughter and then tried to join their inner circle – the circle closed quicker than you could say “go and get a job and leave this stuff to the pro’s”.

It’s taken lots of time for me to adjust to my new role and realise that I am extremely fortunate to be doing something incredible. I allow myself a bit more credit now, I have such an amazing bond with this little man and I am in the fortunate position of witnessing all the bits and pieces that are thrown together to make him Max (nose picking and handing clapping are the flavours du jour). Stay At Home Dads (it doesn’t help my argument that the acronym is SAHD) the next time you find yourself longing to be crunching numbers in the office, enjoying a beer with your mates or holding up your end in an adult conversation, just remember  it’s probably the best job in the world.

** Disclaimer – not all mums look at me like I am a gender bending baby thief

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12 Responses to “Gender Bending”

  1. alison February 23, 2012 at 2:08 am #

    Oh no, Matt! I sm so sad (sahd?) that thus has been your experience. Part of the mummy business is binding over how hard it is to be disconnected from your ‘old life’ and it would be ridiculous to expect that it would be any different for a Dad going through the same thing. Maybe it’s even harder, without the societal approval and acceptance afforded to mums.
    For the record, Matt is an amazing father and an amazing man for taking on this role. If he did steal a baby, it would be a pretty lucky bloody kid.

    • daddownunder February 23, 2012 at 3:35 am #

      I want to hereby state that I have never and would never steal a baby. I might swap but never a straight steal.

  2. sally ross February 23, 2012 at 3:06 pm #

    o dear, all those women with such hard and fast ideas sound abit old fashioned really. as a father with a baby you have obviously found the glass ceiling you may never rise above, we as a gender seem to be suspicious of men alone with their babies

  3. Steve A February 23, 2012 at 10:10 pm #

    My own experience is a little different to yours Matt and I suspect this is because I forget to notice ‘those’ mums – most of the time.

    However, the mums I do associate with (and notice) are mostly same sex parents and that can get tricky let me tell ya. “I’m mummy one and she’s mummy 2.” or “No no, I’m Helen and she’s mum.” My favourite was “We haven’t actually broken the news that dads exist yet.” Good luck with that one! It’s a political mine field out there and I’ve stepped on a few I can tell ya.

    Anyway, back to us. It’s now been 3 years since I first stepped up to a stroller and such is my familiarity with it I no longer operate it like a ‘normal’ parent. I have a bloke method where I sort of stand to the side so I can open my stride without my size 10’s hitting the wheels, one hand steers the one year old while the other prevents the three year old from falling off my shoulders (yes there’s two of them!). The panniers are fat-full of shopping and I’m Dadding on all cylinders (male metaphors intentional here).

    Passing mums comment as we fly past “Great to see Dad on the stroller” and “Taken the day off work?”. I’m quite gentle about it but do I really have to remind them. Dadding is work! How soon we forget when the teet is on the other nipple (love a mangled metaphor).

    No greater joy have I found and no greater challenge have I met. So if you see me and the kids loaded up and cutting through Acland St, better get out of my way girls because I’m working full time and luvin it!

    • daddownunder February 23, 2012 at 10:38 pm #

      Steve you have already elevated yourself into “dream blog commenter status” – witty, insightful, entertaining, your ticking all the boxes mate (although Blog etiquette dictates that a comment should never be funnier than the post itself). I have witnessed Steve behind the wheels of a stroller and he is truly a force to be reckoned with.

  4. theworkingparent February 27, 2012 at 5:38 pm #

    This made me giggle! My hubby is at home with the kids and he has experienced all sorts of responses from women including our health visitor who refused to accept that he would be at home while I went to work!

    Wait until you have to deal with the mums at the shcool gates – you are in for a treat! Good luck.

  5. Reluctant Housedad March 11, 2012 at 5:18 pm #

    A man absolutely after my own heart. It does get better, as you’ve realised. It took me around six months to realise that this ‘was it’. The relentless grind stays the same, but the ego adjusts and your mindset changes, and then you start to appreciate that this is an opportunity many men would give their right arm for. Nice to find a kindred spirit. Best of luck. You look like a natural to me!

  6. Cam @ notunimportant December 9, 2012 at 10:51 pm #

    Matt. I’m glad to have found your blog. This post is the standout so far. I read on mothers’ blogs all the time readers who are relieved to find out that their experiences are not their own but go with the territory. So it goes with SAHDing, it seems.

    Sex/gender is a real pickle in this gig. I look forward to reading some more (old and new) about your world.

  7. Tash Hughes (@TashWord) December 9, 2012 at 11:15 pm #

    If it makes you feel any better, Matt, too many Mums are harsh on each other, too, not just Dads. If anyone is home caring well for children, good on ‘em I say – male or female.

    I’d be more likely to look at you with jealousy than judgement – being home with kids is special – hard work, absolutely, but so rewarding and more fun than working I think.

    • daddownunder December 11, 2012 at 1:34 am #

      I am totally with you on the fun and rewarding bit Tash, I love it!

    • Cam @ notunimportant December 11, 2012 at 8:46 am #

      Good points, Tash.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Blogging The New Therapy? « dad down under - December 6, 2012

    [...] When I wrote Gender Bending I had recently taken over the reigns as Max’s stay at home parent of choice. I think beneath the attempted wit and bravado I was scared and lonely. I was scared that I wouldn’t be able to live up to the high standards set by Mrs Under and I was lonely, I had no family to call on, I was not part of a parents group and having not been in Australia long I had no real social network. I think in those early days I probably got fairly close to being depressed http://daddownunder.wordpress.com/2012/02/23/88/ [...]

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