Wednesday 18 April 2007

Paid in Full

I’m always deeply suspicious of men who say “I like women.” Yes, I always think. I bet you do. “I just love being around them.” Men in the weekend supplements say it. Generally powerful, attractive men. What does it mean anyway, apart from the obvious? Is it code? I’m not sure.

Anyway, I am increasingly finding that I like women too. Well, mums, anyway. On the occasions when we meet up with other families I drift towards the mums and enjoy chatting to them. I want to listen and swap stories. I am like them, after all. They have often left something behind too – a career - or they feel unappreciated, or are teetering on the brink of a massive mental breakdown.

I’ve stopped calling myself a stay at home dad in male company now. “But what do you really do?” men will ask. “Oh, you know, a bit of childcare, writing.” (They don’t.) “He’s not doing anything!” they declare, looking around knowingly. Yes, they’ve found me out. The combination of childcare and part–time work amounts to really almost nothing.

What my life no longer contains are any outward signs of success. Childcare is a readjustment to the rulebook. Who is there to congratulate you on a job well done? Where is the end of year party? I’d actually welcome a performance review, but even that isn’t going to happen.

Today I had a strange sensation while reading Topsy and Tim Go on an Aeroplane to my daughter before lunch. I suddenly remembered business trips with fondness. I always hated them then, but there was the feeling, niggling. The glamour! The importance! I had a bit of standing then. But not any more. Now I am paid in sticky kisses and tired hugs. Noone even notices me.


Gone said...

No, I disagree with your final comments that no one notices you.
The most important people in the world to you, notice you every day. They may not say it, they may not know it, but the richness that they have in their lives will always be there as a lasting "notice" of the sacrafice their Dad made. But you know this already otherwise you wouldn't be doing it

Drunk Mummy said...

Dear SAHD, if you are really bothered by the "What do you do?" question in male company, just tell them you are the reserve goalie for QPR - they'll never know. Just make sure no-one kicks a football at you in the nursery playground.

Mutterings and Meanderings said...

And in years to come I'm sure you'll look back with more fondness at sticky kisses and tired hugs than self-important business trips!

Stay at home dad said...

I do believe I am paid in full for my efforts Grocer and M&M, it's just that the world doesn't seem to see it that way. But then mums have known that for some time...!

Drunk mummy, even I'm not useless enough at football to get away with that one!

Anonymous said...

Well, this is exactly why stay at home carers should have something all their own - something that makes them feel appreciated and important.

You know your daughter appreciates you and loves you, and your job is the most important one on this planet. But sometimes you need immediate acknowledgement.

And that's SURELY your blog!!! I read your postings almost every day, and there are many more out there who love reading your words... so when someone asks what do you do, say "I blog". :)

I've left comments before, but not signed it. Now i'm introducing myself! Keep writing, I love reading it!

Stay at home dad said...

Thanks Lilly. Comments like yours do mean an awful lot. You should see the pity in their eyes if I mention blogging. But I am going to keep going...


debio said...

My husband always maintains he prefers the company of women, but that he in no way understands them!

I prefer the company of men and like to think I understand them only too well.

Probably we are both labouring under a misapprehension.

I do know, however, that nothing can replace what you are doing. I too was 'somebody' before I gave up being 'somebody' to be 'somebody else's'. We full time parents don't need some corporate appraisal to cast approval. What we are doing is soooo difficult that it would take an HR dept decades to prepare the template.

Cathy said...

SAHD I do believe that you are going to turn into a feminist!

But seriously, I have done the same thing as you and I wouldn't have done any different, despite the loss of staus and income and the frequent frustration. But somehow society seems to accept women as carers yet not men. Just tell the men you are a teacher and a writer...after all, you are!

Stay at home dad said...

Debio, watch that husband of yours! As for you, I can guarantee you understand men, there's not much to know...

Cathy, I don't think you could be a sahd without being a feminist!

Jan said...

You have A Very Important and Special Job.
I'm sure the important people in your world appreciate it/you fully.
Or they will when they're older ( mine did/do)... when they've had the benefit of your time and encouragement in their lives.
Don't underestimate yourself.
And just maybe ( maybe) you REALLY are the reserve goalie for Accrington Stanley ( sorry, QPR)
And finally, thankyou for popping into my Blog.

debio said...

Don't worry - we're both recycled already......!

Stay at home dad said...

Hello Jan. Whether that's true or not, thanks!

Pig in the Kitchen said...

Hello SAHD, I also salivate at the thought of business trips. I've only ever been on one i think...but hubby does them all the time, loads of free wine. But have you forgotten the terrible night's sleep on a long-haul flight? Snoring or dribbling in your sleep and waking up to find that people are staring at you?!

It takes quite a while to get used to that 'invisible' thing, I was horrified to realise that no-one was going to pay me for staying at home, Tony Blair has missed a trick.

And to echo most of the other comments, you're doing a fab job, and it's far easier to go out to work...tell your male friends that.

wife in the north said...

You probably get enough sticky kisses. How about a blogroll?

Stay at home dad said...

Pig, grand to have you back. Who needs business trips with holidays like yours!

WITN, good to see you here. Never enough sticky kisses! And thank you.