the tao of jaklumen

the path of the sage must become the path of the hero

The continued loneliness of a SAHD (in 2015)

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Based on a post written October 18, 2011. 

I am still sick and bloody tired of the stigma that is attached to Stay-At-Home-Dads, and house husbands.  I never like answering the following question: “So, what do you do for a living?” The people that ask it are rarely satisfied with my answers.  They are usually fishing for employment status, and often they wince and writhe with uncomfortable facial expressions and gestures once they learn I am on disability.

It was worse when I was younger, and lived in a slightly more affluent part of town.  The most uncomfortable reactions were at church, of course; it’s not unheard of for mothers to work, but fathers working has been the norm for LDS families for many decades.  I stood out like a sore thumb.  It was worse when my children were little.  Oh, don’t get me wrong.  My current ward (congregation) understands my situation, mostly.  There were dozens of fathers taking turns looking after their babies, and I got help, mostly when my son was little (Neru was school age by the time we entered the ward).  But of course they were all gone at work weekdays, and I never much enjoyed church playdate activities, as women dominated any conversations.  There was only so much common ground before topics slid to things that really didn’t pertain to me as a man.

Then, of course, there were all the challenges autism presented– Cimmorene got really overwhelmed for a time, and so the Primary leadership would come to me when Boy was throwing some conflict.

The media is all about Mom

I enjoy being a parent. But EVERY SINGLE parenting magazine I pick up is “Mom.” “Mom.” “Mommy.” “Mom.” and it’s blatantly obvious in the advertisements, as if Madison Avenue believes that all dads still will have nothing to do directly with their children– because that’s Mom’s job. Sure, there are articles about SAHDs and such, but far, far, far too many keep the taboo in place.

Just one of many examples. This was part of a Cool Whip campaign on their Facebook page. Image credit: 360i_bucket at Photobucket

I speak of print, but as I saw “social media” unfold, and come into the mainstream, the message persists.  Note, dear readers, that what I had written previously was about WIRED– specifically about “GeekDad“, and “GeekMom”.  The contributors all seemed to cling to the status quo.  GeekDad contributors, if they wrote about parenting, wrote about it as if it was almost an afterthought. I cringed when Jonathan Liu demurred and said he just “happened” to be working at home to be a SAHD.  So I left GeekDad articles behind and started reading GeekMom articles more, because they would talk about parenting issues more directly.  But then it was the same “mom talk” drift– they’d quickly shift to topics that really were about women, and not really about men.

I see this image WAY too often– as if Dad blogs aren’t really a mainstream thing.

What… am I supposed to climb back to my video games, tools (hand or power), and assorted mannish hobbies?  Please, understand.  It’s pretty discouraging to see the onslaught of sites that either refer to “Mommy” or “Beauty & Fashion”, and I go and see that the voices of fathers will be pretty few.  If men respond, they rarely identify themselves as fathers.  It was very, very true at GeekMom… almost ZERO responses from men.

My world has plenty of yin, plenty of yang

There is this notion that women drive social media because they drive conversations in general, but I call bullshit.  Men will talk for hours upon hours about subjects that interest them.  Why the hell aren’t they comfortable talking about parenting?   I’m also very weary of the post-war stereotype that “men do the work outside of the home, women do the work inside.”  Cimmy’s helped me a ton with DIY projects (unless it’s electrical- then she leaves it to me) and I cook most of the dinners.  On the stove.  In the oven.  I broke the grill my parents passed down to me, and I haven’t fixed it yet.

And since my back has grown worse, Neru and Cimmy help me with the yard work.

Disability has already got this SAHD feeling like an old man

I was grateful when an old family friend moved into our neighborhood.  We are usually comparing notes on cooking, food preservation, music, mechanics, and many scholarly topics.  His children are about the age Cimmy and I are; he was friends with my mother-in-law since childhood.  He is retired, although he is miserable if he isn’t working on something.  He’s an amputee since he blew off a bum leg with a shotgun (long story), but he likes to keep busy.  Despite a miserable first marriage, he is happy married again to a woman that is full-time employed.  He welcomes my company, and Cimmy’s, too, when he is at home, although he is rarely, if ever, idle.

Generally speaking, the only people I can socialize with during the day are retirees.  (My mother recently retired, but that’s another very, very long story.)  Maybe that’s just as well; the sciatica, the neuropathy, and other health issues have got me acting like a grumpy old man.  I couldn’t stay in the mommy world.   And I’m not in a daddy world.  There aren’t many guys my age in my daily activities I can relate to. I can’t help it. Stereotypical guy stuff costs $$$– especially what many in my men’s group at church do. Firearms: $$$. 4X4 wheelin’: $$$. Fishing: $$$. Paintball: $$$. And so on.

I would write about how I was considering asking to attend the older men’s group at church, but, again, another story for another time.  I’ve struggled for a long, long time to relate to men my age.  There’s got to be something for the modern world.  I don’t have a business to pass to my children.  I was never that interested in sports.  Anything I am interested in is not one of the national pasttimes.  Most of the time, if I’m hitting the gym, it’s because I’m desperately trying to get better, either taking Cimmy, or Neru.  And that’s growing rarer all the time.  I try to be involved in my children’s schooling, but I cringe when the phone rings and someone (usually not connected to my son) makes the assumption that they need to talk to Cimmy.  I guess they need to hear my stories about failing student teaching and all that.  I’m aware of how schools work.

Once again, I feel like this is just a pointless rant.  The more I search the Internet, the more depressed I get.

 

Author: jaklumen

Wherever you see "jaklumen", that's me- the username is still unique as of the current year. Be aware that the facet you see, is only a small part of the me that is me.

11 thoughts on “The continued loneliness of a SAHD (in 2015)

  1. yes, the mommy blogs are really a lot. But I’m sure there are other out there, like you. Finding them may prove to be hard though.

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    • They are out there for sure, Serins, but, they don’t really grab the spotlight that I am aware of. There’s just… hypocrisy. The “dad bod” (because sexualizing active, hands-on fathers is apparently a thing) is one of them. I’ve gotten high praise from individual women and men, so I understand that there are people that want more of this, but there doesn’t seem to be any ripple effect of that in the masses beyond fetishism, gossip, and whatever might make a buck.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Lots of really good points here, Jak. In general, I hate society’s obsession with occupation. It is my least favorite part of any social event – the inevitable “So what do you do?” conversation. Because, honestly, there are so many things that define me (and that I care about) more than what pays the bills. And there are so many things I find interesting about people other than their jobs. One of the slogans I hate the most is “Kid tested, mother approved” … As if fathers somehow wouldn’t know what is good for their children. So much nonsense in marketing.

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    • So much nonsense, indeed. Lots of sexism still abounds. Lots of narrow-minded views. Like all the flap about JCPenney featuring a two-mother couple with their child. Oh, please. I may live in a small town area, but it’s the second decade of the new millenium… as if I didn’t know these sorts of families exist.

      (I’ve got stories about being feared as a breeder. sigh It sucks.)

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I know exactly what you mean. When my oldest (now 18) was 2, I stayed home with him for a year. It was terrible. I tried again when my daughter was born, working only part time, being a SAHM when there weren’t hours to be given at work. I suck at it. Yeah, I can clean, and make sure the kids get fed, but I get so..bored.

    My husband? Best stay at home parent in the goddamn world. The four months he spent not working with our daughter were amazing. I wish we’d been able to afford to continue it. He thrived–and so did our kiddos. I freaking hate those magazines (and don’t read them anymore) and ignore blogs that hype up the Mommy craze. I hate those goshdarn commercials on tv where they make husbands look like bumbling idiots. Where they downplay the intelligence, hard work, and freaking compromise that goes into being a badass father. They are out there, and they should be acknowledged, hailed, and celebrated. It shouldn’t be a THING for a Dad–it should be just as acceptable to say you stay at home and take care of your kids. It shows a level of dedication that many people, male and female, just don’t have.

    And now? My 18yr old is grown and has moved out to “be a grownup”, my 8.5yr old daughter sees that her father anda I share all the household responsibilities. We both work full-time. My husband does ALL (99.99%–there are freak occasions where I will cook some not as delicious food) the She knows that he knows how. We both clean the house, walk the dogs, help her with homework, take turns cleaning the bathroom. She sees, just like our son did, that a family takes work and effort and everyone pitching in to help–then things are good.

    I think it’s an important thing, staying home. It sucks that there aren’t people local to you to keep you company during the day, but I’ve noticed older people usually have more interesting things to say. Wish you felt better during the day, and in general, so you could actually enjoy being home. From what I’ve read..you are a great husband and father. Hang in there.
    -Sera

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    • *please excuse the typos. This new computer keyboard (work machine) bites.

      It was supposed to say “My husband does all the cooking, and I do all the laundry, but she knows he knows how.”

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      • Ahh, that’s somewhat like our place. I’m the cook, and Cimmy’s the baker. She does a great deal of the laundry, but I do whites. I started washing more, because… it needed to get done. To put it succinctly, Cimmy gets emotionally overwhelmed with all the trials and tribulations we face– and gets lost in YouTube for hours at a time. She does good work, but is so often emotionally and physically drained. She has dysthymia, which is a good chunk of the problem.

        Fortunately, she jumped ship from the agency she was at to come to mine after she lost her therapist, and is seeing a pretty awesome art therapist now. Things are looking up, although they’re still crazy tough.

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    • Ah yes, the bumbling idiot stereotype. They populate a lot of the sitcom shows that still remain. They are usually fat, too, while their wifely counterparts are almost impossibly thin and gorgeous.

      I’m getting a caregiver soon– I qualified. It’s going to be a guy, too. It could be interesting.

      It sounds like your family knows very well how to work together. Thanks, Sera.

      Like

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