Sunday, January 1, 2012

Self Pity is Stupid When Your Job is Awesome

I recently was forwarded an article titled Lament of the stay-at-home dad and was asked if I could relate. No, I couldn't. In fact, I sort of wanted to smack the writer in the chops. The guy went on about feeling the stigma of being a SAHD. My response, posted on Facebook was:

Not yet--Olive is pretty content most of the time. Plus I have yet to feel any 'stigma'--most of what I get is envious looks, from both men and women. Maybe this guy has a time machine and hangs out in 1957 but I never get the sense that we are looked down upon. I sometimes feel it is a stereotype perpetuated by stay at home dads themselves so they can sell articles and books about being a stay at home dad fighting the good fight and bucking the system etc. Without anyone demonizing us, what makes us interesting/special/extraordinary? Why would anyone buy his freelance article if there really was no one looking down on his choice to stay at home? All of the 9-5 business execs and wall street types drinking their three martini lunches in Northampton, MA must really give him a hard time. Maybe if he lived someplace more progressive he would catch less flack.

The last two sentences, if you are familiar with Northampton, MA, are full-on ironic. Northampton is one of the most progressive places I have ever come across, where a SAHD would not only be supported, but celebrated. But this guy seems dying to feel persecuted. I know that as adolescents we love to feel like we are the underdog and maybe part of a group that is pissed on in a world that is totally not fair. But eventually you have to outgrow that shit and take a look around you through your big-boy glasses and realize that, no, most people aren't out to get you--most people couldn't give two shits about you and are busy living their own life to notice what you are doing and how you are doing it. There is no target on your back, so stop ducking and weaving, you look like an idiot.

To be fair, the article focused on a candidate for mayor that was a SAHD and caught some heat for it from his opponent. But that is politics--you catch heat for wearing the wrong color tie or for an essay on Marx you wrote in high school. Of course he is going to take a hit on that front. But the rest of us are not under that scrutiny. Our names aren't on cheap signs all over the neighborhood, so there is no spotlight on us. No one cares.

An article that bemoans the stigma and persecution associated with SAHDs just serves to perpetuate the stereotype that we are a stigmatized and persecuted group. I know as a writer it may be good for business but it just ain't today's reality. We have the best job in the world. So give it a rest. Nobody empathizes with the douchebag complaining that his Porsche is in the shop so he had to take the Lexus to work. Everybody wants our problems.

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