As a stay-at-home mom/dad, I'm accustomed to finding myself in
situations dripping with gender role-reversal irony. I wear an
apron, I cook casseroles, I cry at that Sylvan commercial with the
skateboard and the music and the grades. I can talk to my
daughter's gynecologist without stabbing myself in the eyes.
I chuckle at these Mr. Mom moments. I'm still all man. I smoke
cigars. I scratch. But when I see the new young dads hugged by
their mini-mes, I cry like a princess because I want a baby and
that has me acting weird.
Weird like I'm not leaving my house weird. My neighborhood is
swarming with brand new stay-at-home dads and their hyper-adorable
baby boys. Every seven seconds, one of those mop-haired little
dynamos flings himself into the open arms of his beaming pop,
yelling "I love you, man!" and I start crying.
I have to be careful because my wife is going through withdrawal
and wants another baby and she can afford to get one without me.
The only thing keeping her from adopting a Nigerian war baby is my
(apparent) insouciant indifference, but if she catches me sobbing
in the bay window as some 30-something noob tousles his boy's hair,
she'll be on a plane stat.
I thought it might be hormonal, so I went to my doctor.
DR: Do you have ovaries?
ME: Not on me.
DR: So it's not hormonal. Let me try something. (He cues up the
opening scene from The Andy Griffith Show).
ME: I (weep) want (weep) a (weep) bay-hay-bee! (Uncontrollable
DR: When was the last time your son hugged you?
ME: (sniff) Voluntarily?
DR: Oh, good lord.
And that's it. That's what's wrong with me. I don't have this
problem with the girl-she's hug-centric. I have to peel her off me
every 14 seconds. But my son has turned into a pre-man. He used to
wear his emotions like a dirty SpongeBob T-shirt. Now he keeps them
buried under a professional grade video game skill set and music
snobbery. He used to leap into my arms. Now he high-fives me.
If my calculations are correct, I've only got a precious handful
of embraces left:
1. When (if) he graduates.
2. When (if) he gets married.
3. His son's first f-bomb.
4. As I lay dying (maybe).
I know what this is. I know how it works. It's not my hormones
that are the problem, it's his. He's got hair on his lip. He eats
like a horse. He smells like a mule. He's watches Colbert. He's in
the short stretch to manhood. Suddenly, he's not seeing me as the
Superman he thought I was when he was 5; he's seeing me as the
feeble, addled, wild-haired, unshaven dork in a stained T-shirt I
That's why I'm crying every time I peep over the window ledge at
those bright, sparkling newbie dads.
Their boys still see them as heroes and, more importantly, they
still believe it's true. I miss that self-deception. It fuels all
the idiotic crap we do as dads (camping, ice fishing, parking lot
doughnuts), and it's a blast. For that brief crazy handful of
years, we're invincible. We're hilarious. We're awesome.
Now, as he grabs my wallet out of my hand on his way to (an
undisclosed secret teen lair), it's clear I have no one left to be
an idiot for. I will wither up and blow away and that is, perhaps,
why I've become pathetic and weepy.
My kids, they're my kryptonite, and for a while, a long time
ago, I was their Superman.
Christopher lives in Chicago with his wife and kids and can also be found at deathbychildren.com.
See more of Christopher's stories here.
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