By: John Jericiau
It’s hard to be masculine in a world dominated by the feminine. I’m talking of course about the world of the stay-at-home parent, which has been my world for the last 5 years and will continue to be for the foreseeable future. Sometimes no matter how hard I try, there are times when I just can’t help but feel, well, womanly. Here are just some of those times.
Pushing a stroller. Don’t get me wrong – it’s a handy device and a great invention. With two boys 8 months apart, it was a necessity, and Alen’s brother gifted us with a top-of-the-line jogger model. I was able to keep up my running routine (somewhat), and besides the car seats, high chairs, and cribs, this was their home on wheels. Luckily it was not a lacey, pretty thing, but I still had issues with it, mostly about hand placement. I tried to hold it singlehandedly like a man but sometimes I just didn’t have the strength. I tried it with palms up and palms down. I tried to push it by giving it intermittent shoves away from me and then catch up to it and repeat. It just seemed like the minute I placed both hands on the handle (as you generally see people do) I heard “I Am Woman” blaring in my head.
Giggles N Hugs. This indoor playground is awesome. Lots to do and the boys run around and climb and roughhouse for almost 3 hours. (You get 3 free hours of parking before you have to cough up A LOT of money so I’m always hightailing it out of there like Cinderella before midnight.) There’s a Wii there, and plenty of good food too. With their free Wi Fi and ample table space, I’m able to bring my MacBook Air and get some writing and bill-paying done. My issue is with the name of the place! I can hardly bring myself to speak the words Giggles and Hugs in the same sentence. It just sounds so girly. And I don’t see much hugging going on there. Might I suggest Toss N Turn or Nestle N Wrestle, or From Wired to Tired?
Driving a minivan. I gave up my sexy Mercedes for the practicality of the Honda Odyssey (and its 19 cup holders). You can’t beat it when you’re hauling the kids around town. It’s easy to get the boys in and out, as well as their bikes and the stroller and their sports equipment and their toys and their friends. But during the downtime —boys in school or at the grandparents— I wish I could at least switch to a convertible model. People see the minivan pull up and I can see their surprise/horror that it’s not a soccer mom at the wheel.
Grocery shopping. I feel much cooler now that I put my grocery list on my iPhone (which automatically syncs with my husband’s iPhone in case he makes it to the store first), but I still have the stroller syndrome as I push the grocery cart, especially with two boys sitting in the cart screaming and trying to grab anything in reach. I don’t use coupons (my mom had an accordion file that she carried throughout the store and checked for coupons before settling on the product to buy—excruciating!) and I certainly don’t look at calories or labels. Just grab the item and toss it in the cart.
Changing a diaper in public. At the boys’ current ages I’m not dealing with diapers, but I remember that I would try to find a secluded part of the park or beach, block anyone’s view, and do the wiping as quickly as possible. Of course I would go for the three point shot as I hurled the balled up dirty diaper toward the garbage can. Then anyone within earshot could hear me say “Go Lakers”! I learned early on not to wipe the perspiration from your dripping face at the same time you are performing a diaper change … I returned to a parent and me class once after retreating to change a diaper, only to be told by another parent that I had remnants of said diaper change across my forehead.
Combing hair. Applying lotion. Any type of grooming activity where hands need to be soft and touch needs to be gentle. Not good for manly men. I usually turn the application of lotion into a mini-wrestling match where the lotion goes on with one hand as I’m grabbing their head with the other. You know, just like dads do all over the world.
Lately I’ve been making a concerted effort to let go of these crazy thoughts, especially with the hope of a new baby girl joining our family (one who needs her hair combed and braided and adorned with bows). I’m a confident male who is comfortable with his job description, and the rewards are endless. I just had my first manicure/pedicure and loved it, despite the fact that as they put my hands and feet in some kind of solution in order to soften my cuticles, echoing in my mind the whole time was the classic Palmolive commercial from the 80s. Whereas in the commercial the manicurist announced to her surprised new client Madge “You’re soaking in it!”, I create a make-it-work moment by imagining I just heard her say “You’re smoking fit!” I’m going to be okay.