A Man in a Woman's World
My friend Christina asked if I would like to bring the twins along to a playgroup she takes her triplets to. She told me there was singing first, then morning tea, then the kids had playtime. I was mostly excited (as it got me out of the house) and partially nervous because this was my first proper playgroup and I didn't know what to expect.
We got there just as it was starting. The room was completely full. There was hardly a space to sit but I found a space on the floor by the door. I placed my awesome baby bag* on the floor, sat down and rested a twin on each leg. I looked around the room and there was probably about 50 kids from newborn to 4 years. There was probably 30 or more mums too, but I was more interested in counting the dads.
"Alright, on this side there's me, so that's one. I can't quite see over there..."
I craned my neck to see over to one corner of the room.
"Ah nope, can't see anyone over there."
I looked over to the other corner.
"Annnd that's a no again."
Turns out I was the only male in the entire room. To be honest, I'm not sure why I was surprised at that. I mean percentage wise, the amount of stay at home dads are very small. (Dads who have the day off are probably a small number too.)
I looked around the room as a first timer, observing this strange new world. As the kids danced, sang and jumped around I looked at the mums. I reckon there were about three different kinds of looks on their faces. Some looked happy to be with their kids, singing and dancing along. Others looked happy just to be out of the house and in the company of a few other adults. And I'm pretty sure that there were a few mums there with a zombie-like look on their face that said "I only had 3 hours sleep last night, kill me now."
Luckily for me, my twins are basically an icebreaker. As a guy carrying two babies around, you can't help but draw attention to yourself. I found that there were a lot of very friendly women who were willing to come up and talk to me and even take a baby off my hands to give me a break. It's women like this, and those in my multiple births coffee group that really make a first time stay at home dad feel comfortable. Because as the title of this blog suggests, it really is a woman's world.
As I've mentioned before, in our society, it's "normal" for the mum to be the one at home. Our laws are even designed to promote the mum being the one at home. Dads only get two weeks of unpaid leave, while mums get 18 weeks paid leave and a year to think about if they want to go back to work or not. There are multiple groups set up with mums in mind, and not many (if any...thanks Scribe!) for dads. It's not something that's going to change much anytime soon but for any mums who see a dad out there at a playgroup with babies or small kids, we really do appreciate your help. Welcoming us into the group, having us over at your house, looking after our babies or even just talking to us are all things that make us feel more comfortable.
Not all guys are the same as me, but I'm very comfortable now talking about different things, from the in's and out's of birth, placentas, cracked nipples and poo explosions to post baby sex, sleep deprivation or depression. I was even able to have a conversation the other day with a woman who was breastfeeding. It didn’t seem weird, it was just normal. It may mean an adjustment for some guys and mums who aren’t comfortable at first, but it’s not a big deal really. (Even babies deserve breakfast! And no, we're not checking your boobs out.)
For now, I’ll keep going along to as many different groups I can find. (If anyone knows of any great dads groups let me know!) And lets continue to welcome with open arms all the new stay at home mums and dads that we meet!
How have you found adjusting to life as a stay at home parent? Comment below or on my Facebook page!
*(more on the baby bag in another post!)