So, recently on a radio show (I’ll not say which… my listening habits are strange and varied) I listened to a discussion about stay-at-home Dad’s, and I have to say, I was appalled by some of the attitudes. Just for the record, let me make it clear… I do not feel emasculated because I’m at home while my wife is out working every day, I am not taking an easy option because I’m a lazy bugger, I am not a sissy, and I am not a modern man doing my bit to support feminism.
Now, I have many friends who will say, “But you like dressing in women’s clothing!”… ahem, and indeed, this is a fact… but I’m very selective about when and where I wear them. It has to be around Christmas time, and it has to be on stage in a theatre… for I have, for about 25 years, (10 in Belfast and 15 in Galway) played a Pantomime Dame. It’s escapism, it’s mad craic, and it earns me money, but it certainly has nothing to do with question marks over my sexuality. And believe me, if you’ve ever seen me dressed as a woman… I am anything but attractive, and not remotely feminine.
I do Pantomime for the same reason that I ran youth theatre groups for 25 years, and for the same reason that I’m happy to be a stay-at-home Daddy… because I love children, and I love feeling that I can make a worthwhile contribution to their education, their love of life and music and their general well-being. There’s possibly no greater joy. Indeed, my own boys, Dualta who’s 6, and Iarlaith who’s 3, have been the strongest influence on my deciding to become a writer of Children’s Books (www.petermkennedy.com/shop).
But I digress, back to my role as Day-care Daddy.
Regarding that “easy option” of staying at home and not working… Are you serious? Not working?? Is there a harder job in the world than trying to instil manners, discipline, respect, reading and writing, toilet training, tying your shoes, eating food without also wearing it, cleaning the toy-room, (HA!) not picking up dog-poo, being polite to your elders, doing your homework, etc, etc, etc? No… it’s a full time job that requires the energy of a superhero, the imagination of Roald Dahl, the patience of a Saint, and the ability to become oblivious to foul smells and crappy nappies. Furthermore, I’m Day-care Daddy, and when she who must be obeyed is home in the evenings, I go out and become Adjudicator Daddy, Theatre Director Daddy, and Occasional Performer Daddy at night, and when the children are asleep, or eating, or resting (when does that happen?) I write quite a bit… which is extremely time consuming. So don’t tell me I’m choosing an easy option! The cheek of it!
Do I feel emasculated because my wife is the main bread-winner? My relationship with adorable Donna is an amazing one, in so far as we rarely need to hire day-care, or nannies, or baby-sitters. Since we moved to Dublin, we get to have breakfast together, exchange pleasantries via text at lunch time, and she’s usually home early enough to have some quality time before the little angels go to bed. We facilitate each other, and in many ways, we complement each other. (Sometimes we even compliment each other!) I’m an artist (some might argue, but what do they know?) and artists are frequently awful at business, and she is like a business-Goddess, meticulous, organised, thorough, bossy (Did I say that out loud?) and quite superb at every endeavour in which she engages. So she manages me, and she manages to manage me very effectively, even when I manage to irritate and frustrate her through being so unmanageable! But does she make me feel less of a man because of her prowess? No, of course not. I do what I do best, and she does what she does best, and that is what a good, true relationship is all about. Frankly, if a man feels the need to feel superior to his wife, in any respect, there’s something not quite right in their relationship. These aren’t the dark ages… I’m not a bread-winning, super-masculine, gallant knight in shining armour. I’m a partner, in a very healthy partnership. And if she doesn’t like it, well that’s because she a woman with a limited understanding of human nature!! (That last sentence was a wee joke, by the way!)
Am I just doing my bit to support feminism? No, I am not. I’m a man doing what I do best, and she’s a woman, doing what she does best. We’re not the same, and we’re not equal. Men and women will never be equal, because they are as different as chalk and cheese. Of course they have similarities, and there can be exceptions to every rule, but the two (main) sexes (I don’t want to offend fluid genders, trans-genders, lesbian or homosexual orientated folk), will never be equal. But I am a vociferous adherent to equality of opportunity and of mutual respect. I don’t stay at home to make any kind of political or sexual statement. I stay at home because it suits our circumstances, and because I’m more than happy to have that valuable time with my boys. I respect my wife, and am often envious of her getting to read the boys their bedtime story when I’m out at a rehearsal, but that’s fine, because I know she’d love to have the time that I have with them after school. It’s all about accommodating each other, and not being in competition with each other.
Do I feel like a sissy? Never! If others regard me as a sissy, well, that’s fine with me too, because I’m happy with my lot, and my wife, and my boys and I don’t want that to change.
Anyway, that’s me! I am Day-care Daddy, and happy to be so.
My next exciting blog will be about how it all began……………Becoming a Daddy!