One of the awkward moments of living the stay-at-home fatherhood Life came several months ago when my wife’s mommy group put on an impromptu Halloween costume party. Because my wife works during the day she could not attend the function with our 8-month-old baby girl. Not wanting our little one to miss an opportunity to see her friends I decided to take her to the midday event, dressed her in a Halloween costume and set off to attend the function.
I understood before attending, that my visit might be met with tepid discomfort for some of the mothers, whether intended or not. I had met all of the participants previously at several family gatherings, so I was familiar with the atmosphere I would be entering. However, being the lone father at an all mothers event, takes a certain amount of balls, pun very much intended.
As the daily caregiver of my daughter, I was fully prepared to discuss all baby related topics that might arise. I understand the feedings practices, the sleeping habits, the doctor visits, recent travel scenarios we had encountered and so forth. These topics would not be a problem navigating around.
It would be the unspoken topic of “I wonder if he is raising his child as well as us mothers?”
Of course there is no test that constitutes passing or failing the active parenting course. But any obvious miss-steps would no doubt be picked up by the moms and would not do my wife or I any justice in our decision to go this route of child rearing.
So I set out to ensure my daughter had the best possible representation for this event that I could muster.
Before traveling I ensured that all of the proper supplies for the afternoon event were packed: The Full Costume, Check. The right amount of milk should the visit exceed feeding time, Check. The Traveling Diaper Station, Check. Winter Cover for the late fall wind, Check.
I knew that by walking into the apartment I would be under immediate scrutiny by all of the attending mothers and fair or not I had to accept this challenge for the sake of my daughter and for the chance to represent all Stay of Home Fathers.
My plan of attack was to enter quietly without much fuss, participate in the events photos, stay long enough for the children to play with each other, then exit before it became obvious that one parent was not like the others.
The event started as I imagined, all of the babies lined up as they entered for initial photo ops from the happy moms and me. Two of the moms arrived before me to the kids’ party and joined the hostess in conversation about recent happenings and newfound learning’s’ of their offspring.
I knew this put me behind the eight-ball already so I had to listen attentively to play catch-up without dominating the conversation in any way. As the kids’ party participants continued to arrive I noticed, whether intended or not, their surprise at seeing me their with our little girl. I met each on-comer with a smile and a compliment to their child.
As the event progressed the host mother was very gracious and attempted to include myself in the conversation at every opportunity. I in-turn offered stories and anecdotes and made certain to ask questions of all of the mothers, in an attempt to attain any useful information I could get, from these new mothers that were navigating the same waters as I.
After about 30 minutes of baby playtime and many photos, the mothers started to pair off their conversations and speak from the maternal side, this queued me to quietly exit stage left.
After offering our daughter a bottle for the road, I gathered all of our belongings and readied my little one for the departure. I thanked the host for her graciousness and said goodbye to the mothers and children.
I feel this event was a success as it allowed our daughter to play with her friends, while showing the attending mothers and myself that we were all parenting at the same speed and gave me the certainty that I can handle different situations regarding fatherhood.
Robert Brawley is a West Coast kid who moved out to NYC in 2004 to further his career; most recently managing a Multi Unit Luxury Retail Company throughout the USA and Canada. Robert and his wife have been together for 12 years and are the proud parents of a baby girl. As his profession had him traveling 50% of the time, he decided to put his career on hold over the summer and spend the first year as a stay home father, caring for his working wife and child. He is an avid sports fan, a family man and enjoys recreational traveling throughout the world to learn and enjoy different cultures where a kids’ party is not about him.