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.