Being a SAHD, Part I: SAHD Discrimination
I can remember being a brand new, bright-eyed bushy-tailed SAHD* like it was yesterday. I recall all the wonder of the new life that would now forever be a part of mine, and all of the excitement that the future would hold.
Of course, all the excitement and hard work of having a newborn child around was there, right along with the diapers, barf, breast milk and crying. Do not think I forgot all the awesome moments as well. Moments like first smiles, signs, words and steps were all incredible. Watching your tiny human grow more and more into a person is amazing.
Then there was the isolation. This feeling didn’t start with being at home alone with the child, though. No, it started when I began taking her out to meet other babies in the world. And the isolation was due to the simple fact that SAHDs are just not welcome in the world of SAHMs.** There is a word to define this, and that word is discrimination.
My baby was about eight months old when I first decided to take her out into the world of other babies. Finding local programs was not the difficult part — there were plenty of opportunities around libraries and other organizations. The hard part was dealing with the fact that no matter where I went, I was completely shunned as a parent. It was like my eyes were opened to the exciting world of raising a child, followed quickly by the disappointment of learning that most at-home mothers just couldn’t deal with a real father being in their presence during “their time.” ***
And you know what? I didn’t even care for my own sake. Whatever… I’d been a loner most of my life. I did care, however, for the sake of my daughter. That’s why I thought all of the parents took their kids out to these events… for the children. I literally saw moms physically remove their children from next to mine, saying things like “why don’t we go over here and play with these other kids/toys.”
I guess a male caregiver is someone to be feared. Shunned. Discriminated against.
And so it went, and I got pretty used to things being this way. What I did not do was give up. I certainly wasn’t going to take away library time or free playtime from my daughter just because people weren’t nice. This is also the time I dropped all the tags, and simply became a “father.”
* Stay At Home Dad. Pronounced “Sad.” This is a whole post all by itself.
** There are exceptions, I know. Plenty of Dads out there that have been welcomed into Mom’s groups.
*** Also about the same time that I came to the realization that “Parents Magazine” should be renamed “97% Moms and 3% Dads Magazine.” Discrimination.