Thursday, 6 September 2012

Hidden Trap

We all have problems.
Being a stay-at-home dad is fantastic.  But it isn't the societal norm, and, as such, the road can be bumpy.  I blogged previously about how people treat stay-at-home dads (in pantaloons) like idiots.

Sadly, I have come up against another, unexpected problem: men.

By definition, as a dad, I am male.  The custom in our society is for women to care for their young while men bring home the bread and as such my peers are overwhelmingly female.  At kindergarten, I am the only dude in the room. At the supermarket and the playground, this still holds true.

As it turns out, having nards and pantaloons makes it rather difficult to make friends with my new peer group.

Last year I had a really good stay-at-home dad friend.  His daughter and the Little Dude were great mates and we saw each other about twice a week.  Sadly, he moved back home to Europe, spiriting away his family with him.  It felt like a break-up from which I am still recovering (I know, what a sook!)

But as for women, some pretend you don't exist, or bar you from mothers' groups; no real problem, you can't be welcome everywhere.

Other women treat you suspiciously, believing you have less-than-honorable intentions, they are stand-offish and politely make excuses not to have a play date or go for a coffee.

But the rest of the mums out there are great.  Happy, fun and secure enough in themselves to not care about the cut of my pants. It is a real breath of fresh air to find such people that ignore the fact that I am a glaring exception to the female carer norm.  And Athena is really good about it too.  Most of these women are in their mid-twenties to early-thirties, but she has never had concern to think anything untoward should/would/could happen.

But here comes the problem: the insecure male.

Who to play with?
I have had a few women not want to start or maintain a friendship because of their partner's insecurities.  The saddest case of this was with a woman with whom I had been friends with for nearly four years, and our boys were good little friends.  Her partner wasn't comfortable with her being mates with a guy and as such she broke-off our friendship.

Not that the partner had any legitimate cause for concern, unless you count anxiety and insecurity. But, quite rightly, she deferred to his wishes and we no longer have play dates for our kids, or any contact whatsoever for that matter. I'm not going to pretend to know the intricate details of what led to this decision, but I assume it is more complicated than I could know, or has been explained.

If the roles were reversed, and Athena made such a request, obviously I would honor it in a heartbeat.

It bummed me out for a long time, and, nearly a year on, it still does.  But the hardest part of all was trying to explain to the Little Dude, who was just shy of his fourth birthday, that he couldn't have his mate over for a play date because Daddy and his mate's mum aren't allowed to be friends any more because some other person, that he has never met, won't allow it.

When I started this stay-at-home dad caper, I never would have guessed that making - and keeping! - friends would be fraught with such peril. I still haven't found replacements for the good friends that have hastily departed, or their children, but that's the beauty of such good people, they are irreplaceable and I count myself lucky for the time that we did spend together.

Maybe that's what makes it hard to get over.

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