Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Taking My Kid to the Store Doesn't Make Me Brave

Captain and I went grocery shopping this past weekend. As I wandered the aisles I kept passing the same older lady. We must have been on a similar aisle weaving pattern. Each time we passed she looked into my cart at the Captain asleep in his car carrier, looked at me and smiled. I like people smiling at my kid. It makes me happy that I have a little smile machine. It's good to put those vibes into the world. 

Finally, around the third pass she looked at me and said "So cute!"

"Thank you! I like him. I'm thinking of keeping him." I replied. I probably use this joke too often, but it's a nice ice breaker and it makes people laugh. I like making people laugh - puts good vibes into the world. 

"Where's mom?" The nice lady asked me looking around like mom should be coming around the corner any moment.

"Oh, she's at home." I said not looking around because mom was at home and not coming down the aisle at any moment. 

"Really! Oh, you're so brave!" She said somewhat surprised. 

"Uh, thanks." And then I was looking around for the rogue, rabid honey badger I assume she thought I was intent on fighting at some point during my grocery shopping trip – because I couldn't fathom any other reason why she would be calling me brave. 

It couldn't be because I, a male, had dared venture to the market with this tiny monster…

Sleeping baby in cart
Actual picture taken at time of incident!

I chuckled a little bit and said something like "Yeah.. uh… he's a handful" while doing some sort of awkward sweeping hand gesture towards the Captain as he blew a ferocious sleepy spit bubble at me. We went our separate ways and I had a good chuckle thinking about how funny it would be if, when we met up on the next aisle, I took the Captain out of his carrier, held him to my neck and started screaming "AHHHHH GET HIM OFF!!! GET HIM OFF!!!" 

When I got home I posted the picture on the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page with a quick description of what happened. A few people were actually upset. Not at me obviously, but at the lady implying that I was brave for leaving the house with my kid and without my wife.  

I wasn't really offended by the statement. After all, I was joking with her – there is a possibility she was joking with me. There is also a possibility that she wasn't raised in an environment where dads leave the house with their kids. I don't know where this bizarro world exists, but I'm going to give her the benefit of the doubt. 

There has been a lot of talk about dad stereotypes over the last few years. The detached and bumbling father archetype was around long before Al Bundy or Homer Simpson. I can see why dads find it frustrating, especially when misconceptions and assumptions about a father's ability to care for his kids get used in custody hearings or even worse, legislation.

I'm not quite ready to take to the streets and burn my jock strap that I don't own. I am willing to do my part to break the stereotype by being an active and visibly "good" dad in the world. I think this is the best thing any of us dads can do. 

Be present. Be visible. Be proud of being a good dad. 

For me, the blogging is a part of that. It may not have been the original reason I started daddy blogging, but it is definitely a big part of the reason now. So here's the plan. I'm going to keep "bravely" taking my kids into public without their mother (I guess she can come if she wants to... I'm not going to be like "Stevie, you have to stay home. I'm making a statement for fathers everywhere." ) I'm also going to keep writing about it. Sometimes I'm going to be a bumbling idiot and sometimes I'm going to knock it out of the park. Hopefully people will see me and other like minded dads, stop thinking we're brave and just regard us as normal. 

I feel the same way about the Hypothetical Gay Son post. I want to live in a world where people read something like that and go "Yeah... so?" Wouldn't that be cool?

Anyway, thanks for continuing to share this journey with me. It has been the best year of my life and I'm so happy you were all a part of it. As long as you keep reading, I promise to keep writing. 

Good vibes for 2013! 


P.S. If you're not currently a fan of the Ask Your Dad Facebook Page, but you like the blog, I highly encourage you to consider it. It's not just a place where I post new posts from the blog. I also post smaller humorous content, pictures and interesting articles. We laugh... we cry... we hug. (We don't actually hug.)

Join the 1000+ followers who are already there!


  1. Hi, firstly, what a great blog! I've just stumbled across it and have read every single post you've written.

    I totally hear you on the "so brave" comment. From the other perspective (as the Mum) that sort of comment also drives me a little crazy. People often tell me how "lucky" I am that my partner (male) changes our five-month-old's nappies at the weekends. Don't get me wrong, of course it's great that I get a little break from cleaning up the poo over the weekend, but I would love it, if once, just once, someone told him he was so lucky to be with a woman who is happy to change the baby's nappies the rest of the time...

    Unthinkable, of course, because it's just a given that Mums change nappies. But, I agree, it would be great to live in a world where people just assumed that Dads could do everything Mums can do - rather than the contrary.

  2. "but I would love it, if once, just once, someone told him he was so lucky to be with a woman who is happy to change the baby's nappies the rest of the time..."

    But what about the Womynz?

    Just kidding. :)
    Being appreciated is nice on both sides.

  3. I've been through similar. Generally I shrug it off, because there really isn't anything to be accomplished by arguing about it.

  4. I'm a mother of three and I know my husband is an incredibly capable dad and caregiver (he cooks us gourmet dinners nearly every night so I can swing pickup from school and daycare). But I'm just as guilty as the lady in the grocery store. I often forget that so many of those jobs that I'm "lucky" he helps out on (well all of them really) are just as much his responsibility as mine. I try to remind myself, having children is like signing a lease with a roommate, each of you is 100% responsible for 100% of the rent.
    I recently had a male friend ask me for parenting advice. Perhaps I can take up the cause and say my advice is you are just as in it as she is. Never forget that, and never let her forget it either.

  5. Thank God you didn't BLOW HER MIND by saying you were present at the birth.....Like, for reals, in the room and everything!!!
    Of course I jest and get that this is totally a generational thing for her! Actually quite a nice reminder that we have advanced in other ways as a race..... apart from bigger, flatter t.v.'s.... which is also awesome of course!!

  6. Here’s hoping she was just joking. But given her ‘older’ age … I’d guess not. Remember the Huggies add from about a year ago? Daddies and diaper time … it would have been better suited to a few generations prior.
    I love my parents. They are in their early 60’s (I’m the baby, the oops child) and they have a very traditional European mentality when it comes to women’s work and men’s work. My father only changed 3 diapers in his entire life. One for each of his children, and none for any of his 4 grandsons. It was my mother’s job to do the rest. Cooking, cleaning, child rearing, school things, play time, and all things revolving around people. My father was the bread winner, mechanic, inanimate object fixer, disciplinary, and maintenance man for all things in and out of the house type father. That was what they’d learned from their parents, and it suits them just fine. Even today.
    It routinely shocks my mother when I mow the lawn or take the car for an oil change and my husband makes dinner or entertains our almost 2 year old little boy. She’s beside herself when my career takes me out of town for a few days and he is left solely in charge of our little guy. “How ever does he do it?” The house is always standing and bellies are full just like when he’s out of town and it’s just me … but I don’t get the same credit for ‘parenting’ that he does because “That’s your job Liana”. Give me a break Mama.
    My husband is fantastic and when I see him reading stories to our little guy, making dinner, or bath time … it makes me sad for my Dad. That just wasn’t something he ever did with us or his grandsons. I can’t help but feel he was cheated out of some really special time with his babies.
    I can’t say “Good on you for taking your kid shopping.” Captain’s your kid. That’s your job. Funny – you won’t hear of a 30 something year old tell you the same thing in the grocery store. Different generation.

  7. There is a piece like this in the book Manhood for Amateurs where Michael Chabon is at the grocery store with his infant son and is told he is such a great dad. His internal response was F-you I am a good dad and not because I am out in public with a baby, that is easy, i'm a good dad for A, B and C. no one would look at a mom out with a baby and call her brave or think she was great. The low bar of fatherhood

  8. You know, I've just realised, whenever I go out without my son and bump into someone I know, I get asked where the boy is. With his dad, obviously. I mean, if I've popped to the shops for 5 minutes to grab milk on a Saturday morning - of COURSE I'm not going to bring the small one with me if there's another adult home. And there's this implication that my husband is doing me a favour there. By sitting at home? It's crazy! No one would THINK of asking Daddy where his son is!

    And if a group of mums are arranging to go out, dad is so often referred to as 'babysitting' the kid(s) for the evening. My husband alerted me to that one the first time I wanted to go out without him and asked if he could 'babysit' one evening. He said no. He couldn't, because it's his own child, not him doing me a favour by looking after my child - but he did agree to stay home while I went out.

    I think I shall be heading off to read all your other posts now. :)

  9. " seek out new life and new civilations... to boldly go where no man has gone before..." The grocery store! lool

    I've found a bunch of interesting stereotypes lately. For example, I'm adopting, and my husband and I are adopting as well. The first reaction I get when I tell people is usually something along the lines of "but adopted kids are screwed up", as if we (adoptees) are other people's beaten little puppy dogs, unwanted, and left on the street to fend for ourselves. But in truth, that misconception comes largely from just innocent ignorance. They only know what our culture teaches through media, which is usually some horror story. Truth is, adopted children are no more or less likely to grow up to be serial killers and drug dealers than those raised by their biological parents. Ya just don't hear about the normal ones very often (because that story doesn't sell papers/movies/talk shows).

    Men usually look at my husband with a mixture of pity (because we can't have kids of our own science and he's stuck with a 'defective' woman for a wife or some such nonsense) and hesitancy. I can understand the hesitancy, but we had actually chosen adoption as our route to expand our family before we got married. While not every person can (or should) be an adoptive parent, it takes a pretty cold heart to turn a way a child sitting on your lap, calling you 'Daddy' because you are filling that role for them. To them, you are that whole world, despite the fact that they may, or may not, have your nose.

    But all we can do is be living examples, ya know? Be the change you want in the world. ;)

  10. haha, I had the same thing happen to me and I'm a Mom. A sweet little old lady saw me struggling to lift the 35,000lb car seat into the shopping cart and came over to steady it. She asked, "where's Dad?" And I said, "presumptuous, aren't we?". Not really. I actually said, "He's at work. This is a solo trip to Target." And she smiled so sadly and said, "Bless your heart." I got bless-your-hearted, so don't feel bad.

  11. I used to get comments like that all the time when my twins were infants. It was even more fun being able to tell these people my kids don't have a mom. See, men can raise kids all by themselves!

    I started feeling sad for those women. What terrible husbands they must have. Thanks for setting the bar low, guys. Now I look like a hero just for spending time with my kids!

  12. Way to be brave! Taking a kid to a store is scary stuff I suppose. Keep up the good work!

  13. Still a great job well done, for toddlers 2.5 y/o + up to 60lbs, try Piggyback Rider - a standing child carrier and you'll surely enjoy outside with them. :)