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How Stay At Home Dads Maintain Their Masculinity, and other bullshit... - Danny Danger Oz [entries|archive|friends|userinfo]

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How Stay At Home Dads Maintain Their Masculinity, and other bullshit... [May. 17th, 2012|01:06 am]
dalekboy
[Tags|, , , ]
[mood |annoyedannoyed]

I was chopping wood for the fire today, and I was suddenly reminded of the documentary I was almost a part of. They were looking for stay at home dads to interview. They wanted to find out about what it was like to be a stay at home dad in the modern world, and one of the things they said was, "What does a stay-at-home dad do to maintain his masculinity?"

Now the reason I was still willing to be in the doco at this point was because I had plenty to say on the subject. The core of it was, if being a stay-at-home dad is a threat to your masculinity, the problem isn't with being a stay at home dad.

You were always going to find something to challenge your masculinity, whether it was losing a dick measuring contest, being worse than someone else at sports, or a talking to a strong, successful woman. If you feel less of a man because you're the one staying home to look after your kids, you're not less of a man but you are a fucking dill! I've been a butcher and a drover, I've been up close and personal in 40 degree heat with large irritable quadrupeds that could easily injure me, and I say there's no harder or more rewarding job than staying home to look after your kids.

Today I washed clothes, made bread by hand (bread-machines are fine, I just don't want one in my house), played with my kids, answered questions about death, fire, dog poo and dozens of other things, sorted and put away laundry, chopped wood, cleaned, lit a fire, made lunch and dinner, stopped several minor skirmishes, brushed the kid's teeth and hair (but not my own), changed some nappies, danced with, cuddled, read, and sang to my kids. You know what makes me a man? Me. I know who I am, and if you think I'm less of a person for whatever reason, you're entitled to your opinion, just as I'm entitled to think you're an ignorant fuckwit.

In my eyes, if you've never changed your kid's nappies regularly, you're a fucking waste of skin. I still physically struggle through some days even all these years after my stroke, and on the days when I'm struggling even the hint of pooey nappy smell makes me want to chuck. I change it because it's my damned job as a parent. Doesn't matter if the smell has me dry-retching right through the change, I suck it up and bloody do it. Sometimes if Sharon's around she'll take the bullet for me, but most of the time she's not here.

So yeah, I was ready to basically say if you think I'm less of a man for doing these jobs, good for you, because I think you're so pathetic that you need to grasp at crap like that to feel good about yourself. Me, I'm fine with it. I'm fine with who I am. I know my strengths and weaknesses. I can kill a pig, pelt a sheep, gut a cow. I cry at the start of Pixar's Up, and at the last episode of Catweazle.

Those are some of my strengths, right there.

Then after a period with no contact, the documentary shifted the goal-posts on me. It wasn't going to be about stay-at-home dads any more. It was going to be about mums, but they wanted a section with a couple of 'super-dads' and wanted me to be one of them. It came at a bad time, so in the end I couldn't even be bothered replying to them. Because it was such bullshit, and I didn't have the mental energy and hours required to fully draft the email I wanted to.

The email would have said, in essence,"Stop making it fucking worse for everyone you stupid fucking fuckers!"

Let's ignore the way in which the new angle is going to hurt the portion of blokes that are already needlessly insecure, you know, the people they were initially interested in, and go right to the core of the wrongness.

I'm not a super-dad. There are shitloads of parents that do it harder and better than me. I'm not terribly domestic, I can't cook a decent meal, and I have health issues. I do what any halfway decent parent does - I do my best and try not to screw up my kids too badly.

I think my wife is an amazing parent. She breast-fed both our kids, worked full-time and expressed milk three times a day at work, and would come home and take the load off her poor 'ol hubby because I was recovering from my stroke and was usually a physical wreck by the end of the day. It was less of an issue with our second child, but I still have my bad days.

Anyone who chooses parenting soon discovers just how much hard work it really is, that no matter how prepared they thought they were, they had no idea.

And my admiration for anyone, anyone at all, who through circumstance or choice raises even one child on their own knows no bounds. That counts for the people who have shitty, lazy, fucking arsehole partners that let them do it all on their own even though they are right there a portion of the time.

You want to find the real super-parents, go looking at the single ones. The ones who had to make a choice and chose to keep the kid. The ones who have a partner who left them in the lurch. The ones who have lost their partner. The ones who had to get themselves and their children away from a partner with a serious and/or potentially dangerous problem.

You know, the ones the politicians love to screw over because caring for a child on your own is just another rort.

We're all just parents. We do the best we can within our individual situation. For some that means they buy a mini-bus to cart the school sports teams around, they're at every fund-raising day with a tonne of homemade goodies, they sell all the chocolates and raffle tickets, and attend the school work-bees, and help out with the school excursions and camping trips. And for some, it means going without that one little $10 treat that you wanted to give yourself, because your kid needs socks.

We need to stop making out that guys raising kids is something amazing and special and oh-so hard. It's a very western and very fucked conceit. Raising kids is amazing and special and hard and rewarding for everyone who does it, no matter their preferred gender when it comes to partners, or how many of them there are to carry the load.

And the sooner single parents start getting the credit and help they deserve, the better.
linkReply

Comments:
(Deleted comment)
[User Picture]From: magnapops
2012-05-16 10:47 pm (UTC)
So glad to see that you are feeling better. That was a really well thought out and amazing article.

Well Done.
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[User Picture]From: dreamer_easy
2012-05-17 12:22 am (UTC)
Need one of those animated GIFS of Kermit going YAAAAAAAYYYYYYYY!!! but don't have one. You'll just have to imagine it.
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[User Picture]From: kitling
2012-05-17 04:00 am (UTC)
*applause*
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[User Picture]From: mireille21
2012-05-17 04:16 am (UTC)
Thanks Danny. I might respond a bit more coherently after I've had a little bit of a cry.

This week's bugbear for me has been how people are going all trippy over how there is nothing in the budget for them yet us single parent bludgers are getting even more handouts. Y'know what, I supported myself and my children for over 3 years out of my own savings with *zero* government assistance. Assistance only kicked in once I was poor enough. I've been looking for work for months, and would happily give up the penny-counting existence to be able to do a bit of 'real' work for a change. You don't get any help from centrelink? Be grateful, that probably means you're doing alright. Centrelink benefits are not over and above your paypacket you nit, they are just enough to get by if you're lucky. (And not even that really, I'm not currently paying down my mortgage at all and don't received rent assistance.) And as you know Danny, the choice to be unemployed was not mine, but my employers, in a rather *cough* dodgy transaction. I'll trade you people complaining that extra $12 a week I'm going to get out the budget apparently, for having a paying job again, and some real control over my financial affairs.
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[User Picture]From: mireille21
2012-05-17 04:21 am (UTC)
PS. It also irks me when I get dirty looks from other parents about not being involved in the Kinder working bee or fundraising BBQ. Sorry, but OHS means I can't bring my kids with me, and sorry, but I can't afford to pay for babysitting while I 'find my community spirit' and get involved. This is why I do the book orders instead, so I can still contribute, it's just that because it's a solo gig I'm not visibly out there contributing. It gets me down to feel put upon because i don't appear to be as supportive of my kids as other parents. Besides which, by the weekend I probably don't have the spoons for it anyway, I don't have a hubby around to help out in the evenings or let me sleep in on the weekends ... or look after the kids while I'm out at the working bee.
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[User Picture]From: sjl
2012-05-18 11:19 am (UTC)
This (to both your comment, and Danny's post.)

I've been on Newstart. I was on it for seven months. Seven. Freaking. Months. Every day, I was doing my damnedest to get off it, and back into the work force. Every day, the buffer on my mortgage was shrinking. Every single fucking day, I could feel my spirits sink, just that little bit more until there was damn near nothing left. I ended up moving to NZ, to a job that I turned out hating, just so I could get a bit of cash flow, and I ended up moving back to Australia just as soon as I could get something even a tiny bit better, still paying full Australian taxes the whole way (foreign tax credit, so no double taxation, but still.)

And people think that the unemployed are on easy street? Sure, there are people that are out to game the system. Newsflash, guys: there are always people out to game the system. If they put the same amount of energy into a paying job as they put into gaming the system, they'd be employed on a very nice salary indeed, thank you very much; the problem isn't the loopholes that they're exploiting, it's the mindset of getting something for "nothing"!

And I'm a single guy, no dependents of any sort. I cannot imagine how anybody could cope with children, without a solid income or a partner, without going postal on Centrelink. I'm bloody glad that we have the safety net there, but dear $DEITY, it's ludicrous the hoops they make you jump through. There were times I felt like screaming at them, "Do you guys want me to jump through these hoops, or do you want me finding work?"

I can't help but believe that the single best thing anybody could do for politics in Australia would be to put a bullet through Alan Jones' head. Then a wooden stake to the heart, to make damn sure he doesn't get back up. There are others, but that would be a fantastic start. I don't say this lightly: I'm not convinced that it would be a morally wrong thing to do, and I would not shed a tear for him. I'd be more likely to sing, "Ding dong, the witch is dead..."

Oh, and for the record: I'm currently on an above average wage (low six figures.) I'm happy to see the government cutting back the tax breaks I receive on certain things (like private health insurance, for example.) I can afford it. That money damn well SHOULD be going to other things, and I'm sure as hell not losing any sleep over the "lost" income. Anybody who whinges about class warfare over something like this needs a goddamn reality check, preferably with the clue-by-four.

Sorry. Hot trigger button for me. I'll shut up now.
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[User Picture]From: arcadiagt5
2012-05-17 08:31 am (UTC)
Applauds wildy from the bleachers. THIS is just a fabulously TRUE piece of writing.
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From: (Anonymous)
2012-05-17 10:56 pm (UTC)

well said :)

and thank you.
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[User Picture]From: kaths
2012-05-23 12:47 pm (UTC)
Wow, what an awesome post. You should have sent this to them! Would you consider rejigging it a bit for submission for newspaper publication?
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2012-05-23 02:35 pm (UTC)
Happy to. You know more about this stuff than I do, so if you don't mind advising me, or making editing suggestions, totally up for it. I did think with a rewrite it might be worth shopping the bugger about.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2012-05-23 02:37 pm (UTC)
Damn, suppose I'd have to take out all the rude words! That'll make it shorter :P
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