My crime, according to the naysayers, was admitting that I blacklisted a SAHD friend from my all-mommy playgroup.
“As with the drunks, the first step is admitting you have a problem,” wrote a man who called himself “Backpacking Dad.” “Say it with me now: “I am a SAHM who still has a stick up her ass. I would like to be better, or perhaps have a smaller stick.’”
“ ‘You can’t join our playgroup because you’re a guy’ sounds a lot like ‘you can’t have this job because you’re a woman,’ ” wrote Robbo. “Is it just me? I’ve been a home dad for almost five years now.”
Actually, I think “You can’t join our playgroup because you’re a guy” is more like, “Honey, you can’t come to poker night because then the guys won’t feel comfortable farting and cussing and talking about Pamela Anderson’s tits.” But that’s just me.
It was easy to laugh off these angry papas, but some SAHDs who wrote left me feeling like I needed to give them a blankie and a big hug.
“Even a seemingly harmless column like this damages our already fragile reputation,” wrote a reader who answers to the name, “SkumChiken.” (Just a tip, dude: Changing your screen name may boost your fragile reputation more than a thousand playgroup invites ever could.)
“Your failed attempt at humor has only further damaged those of us whose only crime is having testicles while stay home (sic) caring for our kids,” wrote another reader named Will in one of several hand-wringing comments he made on my website.
I was willing to entertain their side of the issue. But first, I wanted to do a little research on these mad dads, so I visited a site from which many of them had linked to my column, athomedad.org. Heading over to the discussion board, I clicked on the first topic that looked interesting, titled, “Adult Breast Feeding.” It was from a guy who calls himself Bassmaster, and read, “At what point in the relationship is it OK to tell your wife you just want to see her cousin’s boobs?” Interestingly, hand-wringing Will had responded to this query with an ode to breasts that included, “we will rise up and gaze longly (sic) at the nipples. We will march proudly in the shadows of enormous melons, and we will no longer live in fear of ridicule or the strife caused as a result of our god given right to freedom of boobie viewing!”
And you’re wondering, Will, why a mom might not feel comfortable inviting you to her playgroup?
Fortunately, most of the stay-at-home dads who responded didn’t blame me for broaching the subject. “As a member of the other team,” wrote a stay-at-home dad named Mark, “I’ve been on the receiving end of what you describe many times over…. It’s just the way it is.”
“My experience has been that most women haven’t been too inviting to this SAHD,” Greg wrote. “Birthday invites still go to my wife’s account seven years in. Teachers still give notes to my kids and tell them to give them to ‘mom.’… When I go to playgroups I feel like all the women are eye fucking me.”
Eye fucking? I filed that one away for future use. But it brought up a good point.
“I became good friends with a SAHD years ago,” reader Jenn wrote. “But there was always a barrier to our relationship—it just feels weird to spend that much time with a man who is not your husband. Other SAHMs are definitely wondering if there’s something more going on.”
“One of my brothers in law is a stay-at-home dad, like me, and he sexed up a mommy he met on one of these play dates,” wrote another dad. “Nearly destroyed two marriages. I get tired of moms who don’t socialize with me, especially when they’re socializing actively with other moms. But I gotta admit, I can understand why some of them are weirded out by the thought of becoming pals with a dad.”
After reading all of these opinions on the issue, I wondered about the dad at the center of the controversy. Was the uninvited SAHD I wrote about angry with me or uncomfortable with our friendship? Did he think, as one dad put it on athomedad.org, that I was “a Bitch with a capital C”? Would he ever hang out with me again? Curious, I emailed him to find out. “I thought it was great,” he responded, “insightful, even for my having been there. Thanks for all the fun, and I look forward to our next play date."
Sounds good. Just remind me not to write about it.
Visit Ferrier’s Suburban Turmoil blog at suburbanturmoil.blogspot.com.
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