Mondays and Fridays are my days that I spend with my three-year old son. Last week, I encountered a situation in which the modern-day family construct was lost in the mind of a proverbial “soccer mom”.
In this guest post, NYC Dads Group member & part-time at-home dad, Seth Leibowitz, tries to maintain his composure and set the record straight with a Mom at Trader Joe’s that it is “possible” for dad to be spending quality time during the day with his child…not because he took the day off or lost his job…but, because being the primary caregiver is his job -L.S.
It was 11am on Monday and the Trader Joe’s in my town was relatively quiet. I strolled the aisles pushing the cart while my son nibbled on a biscuit. As I tossed a box of “Joe-Joes” into my cart a mother and her little one came down the aisle in the other direction. She stopped next to us and smiled.
“How sweet. You took the day off to be with your son.”
“I didn’t take the day off.”
She threw a puzzled look.
“Oh. So your unemployed. I’m so sorry. Times are tough I know.”
A thousand witty snide retorts formulated in my brain ranging from making fun of her fake Uggs to her kid’s nose which seemed to resemble a faucet of snot at this point.
“No, I’m a stay-at-home dad.”
She looked as if someone had just asked her to solve a quadratic equation with a gun to her head and stopwatch ticking down from 30 seconds.
“Oh, I’m sorry. Good luck to you.”
It was time to take a stand. Right here. Right now. With the gluten-free Mac and Cheese as my witness I spoke with great fervor in my voice.
“Don’t be sorry. Frankly it’s an incredible experience to be able to spend the formative years of my son’s life with him like this. I mean I’m sure your husband can relate to that, right?”
I just chopped off her earlobe with my samurai sword.
“Actually my husband runs a hedge fund and spends most of the weeknights in the city, so no… he can’t relate.”
I couldn’t help but smirk, yet felt bad at the same time.
“Oh I’m sorry…”
I pushed our cart past her and as if to add insult to injury my son tossed his half-eaten biscuit in her shopping cart and said, “Daddy, that girl had a lot of boogies in her nose”.
It still baffles me why the concept of a stay-at-home dad is so unreal. I would really like for this lady to take a look at the Metro-North train station in our town during rush hour. There are as many men dropping off commuting women as their are vice versa. Perhaps she should stop in our Monday morning library class where there are more dads than moms singing songs with their kids.
I think this Monday I may have a meetup at Trader Joe’s with some of my dad friends in hopes of encountering that lady again.
I’ll also bring extra Boogie Wipes for her child to show how awesome & thoughtful I am as well.
Seth Leibowitz is a part-time stay-at-home dad and a special education teacher in Westchester County. He created the Westchester Dads Meetup Group which currently has forty-six members. In his spare time, he is a professional air guitarist (seriously) and enjoys watching New York Rangers hockey. Follow Seth on his blog or @ShreddyMercury on Twitter for some sarcastic humor. This entry is also cross-posted on Seth’s blog.