Stop Trying To Be Mom

I hate writing advice columns, so naturally, I've decided that it's time to do one.  So there you go, this is the moment that I have become a complete sellout.  Mark it on your calendars, boys and girls, Hossman is going to dish out advice like Dear Abby just took a shot of Redbull and vodka.

At-home-dads--stop trying to be mom.  There, fuck it, I've said it.  I can hear a whole lot of browser's closing right now and feel those eye rolls.  Who the hell is this guy?  Is he trying to piss off everyone?

Pretty much.

But here's what I mean.  Mom's are awesome.  I have one and I'm married to one.  They are good Ford people, salt of the earth women that should be put up on pedestals.  They should be celebrated and acknowledged for all the truly heroic things that they do.  If you haven't called your mother in a while, then stop reading and do that.  Mom's worry all the time.  Seriously, all the fucking time.  It comes with the pregnancy hormones in the first trimester.  They were carefree before kids, then the change happens, and worry is born nine months later.  So pick up the phone and call your mom, she's worried about you.  It's Friday, mom is always worried on Fridays.  Help the lady out, don't be a douchebag.

However, that doesn't mean that us Dad's have to be mom.  And if you are trying to be mom, fucking stop it.  You can't compete on that level, my man.  It's a losing game.   You don't have the skills for it, you are ill prepared to roll in that game.  They will be doing deep corner routes while you are trying to figure out where the first down marker is.  They are the star athletes and you are the water boy to the water boy.

Nine years, I have spent nine years doing the stay at home dad thing.  I've joined Mom's groups, I've tried to join more when the first one didn't work out.  I've done the mall playground thing, I've died a little bit inside when I get the side-eye at the outdoor playground.  I've tried to craft things out of flowers, devoured Pinterest to come up with ideas about what to buy at Micheals.  I've hot glued my fingers to paper plates.

And then I stopped trying to be mom.

It doesn't work, can't be done.  The Mom standard is so ridiculously high that it's a goal that we will never reach, nor do I want to anymore.  I would love to have the respect of moms, that's about it.  I would love to not hear "Are you babysitting, today" anymore.  It's not going to happen.  So let's be dad, let's do the kid raising thing the way we want to, the things that we are good at.

Crafting--put down the scissors and grab a fucking hammer.  Go build something majestic.  Want to know how to build a real trebuchet?  Leave a comment, I'll tell you how it's done.  Then do the ballista with flaming arrows.  Some dad around here knows how to craft a bitching robot that throws marshmallows.  Go find that guy and ask them if it's cool to light the marshmallows on fire. 

Reading time--you ever go to the library and find yourself the only man there?  Embrace that shit.  And I don't mean in a Homer Simpson bumbling way.  You know what you are doing, fucking have confidence in it.  Maybe your kid likes reading about purple dinosaurs, fine, cool.  But maybe your 6-month-old also wants to listen to you read a book about the dangers of the Galactic Empire and the importance of Do or Do Not.  Grab that book, be that guy.  That means that you are going to spend a whole lot of time alone.  It's cool, I love you, you do you.

Cleaning--a shop vac is better than a regular vacuum cleaner.  "But those belong in a garage," people will say.  Bullshit.  Those belong near the dining room table next to the entire box of cereal that your kid has just dumped over.  Get a shop vac.  Let the kids decorate it and cover it with stickers.  Give it the name Mad Max and tell your daughter it's time to rev the engine.

Playground--if you are going to the mall playground, stop it.  Sorry man, I know it's easy but we all know that you are there because something is dying inside of you.  That's not you, that's not dad.  Sure, they are good for a quick adventure on a cold morning.  But what is going to happen is that you are going to be sitting there all alone. And a guy all alone is going to freak people out at those types of places.  I wish it wasn't true, but it is.  I know a guy that was yelled at this last summer because he did this.  He was just chilling, watching his daughter.  You know where it's cool to be alone and also won't shrivel your soul up?  Civil war museum.  Your kid doesn't care where you go.  They just want to be with you.  So take them to places you actually want to go to.  And that is not the mall.  Maybe it's a tour of the local major league baseball stadium.  Grow a pair, get it done.

"Oh, he's just a dad"--I swear to all that is holy if you hear this, you better correct that shit immediately.  Your kid shows up to preschool wearing a tutu with a clashing red top.  Fuck it, the kid wanted to wear a tutu with a red top.  Own that shit.  If it's a dad thing to let your kid be them, then be a fucking Dad.  Having a bad day and things not working out very well?  "Oh, he's just a dad," you might hear.  Speak up.  No, I'm not having a bad day because I'm a dad.  I'm having a bad day because the toddler doesn't want to eat vegetables and I'm parenting the shit out of this situation.

Don't wait to be invited--Look, it's your kid and no one else's.  If they need a bottle in the middle of the night, volunteer for that shit.  Feed your kid, watch some Star Trek while you do it.  Don't wait for someone to ask you, do it.  We, other dads, expect that shit out of you.  Don't be passive.  If your kid is screaming and someone (in-laws, looking at you) tries to take them out of your arms because "You're just a dad", then you put that kid in a football hold and don't give the ball up.  You have the ability to comfort your kid.  You know this, don't be pushed aside because you have a dick.

Teach your kid how to grill a steak.  Pretty self-explanatory there.

Diaper bags--none of us carry diaper bags.  Jesus Christ, stop calling it that.  We carry backpacks of awesome.  Most times that bag does have diapers and wipes. and sometimes that bag has duct tape and pliers.  Because we all know your kid is going to break shit and it's your job as dad to fix it.  Carry the tools to do it.  And for the love of all that is holy, your bag should never be "mauve, maroon, or burgundy."  It's either green, red or a different red and the color completely doesn't matter.  What matters is if it has a cooler section for breast milk and beer.  Go to the camping section of your local store and gear up.

It is not considered special or sweet that we hug our kid or take them places.  I hear it all the time.  Look at that dad, he's such a good dad for spending time with his kid.  No, I'm not a good dad for being with my kid.  He's my kid, why wouldn't I want to be with her?  No one else is going to teach her to put her thumb on the outside when she punches so she won't break it.  I'm not a good dad, I'm just a dad.  And dad's love to hug their kids.  Don't let other people hold us to lower standards than Mom's hold to themselves.  If it is unusual for a dad to spend time with their kid, well, that's fucked up.

Acknowledge and embrace the fear--We are going to have some bad days.  And some bad days turn into bad weeks.  Then that shit gets in our head.  We start to wonder if we are good enough, that maybe we suck balls.  Hello to depression and a feeling of poor self-worth.  You don't have to face any of that shit with a stoic outer appearance.  It's ok to feel less than awesome sometimes and it's ok to talk about it.  I know that dads are supposed to be these rocks that aren't afraid of anything.  But you know what, sometimes when I hear a weird noise downstairs, it freaks me out too.  I make the dog come with me because he's way braver than me.  And it's ok to let your wife or your kid know that sometimes your head gets a little messed up.  We aren't John Wayne.  John Wayne wasn't even John Wayne and it's ok to talk about it.

Finally, and I swear I'll never write an advice post again, have some confidence in yourself.  Being different does not mean being worse.  Don't worry about the perceptions out there, I know that it can be tough.  This is not a competition and we don't have to do things because that's how it has been done.  Don't care.  Be a dad, be the guy you would want to hang out with.   Don't get sidelined, don't get caught up in expectations.

Because the only person's opinion that should matter to you is that little two-foot individual that sits in your lap and occasionally hits you in the balls.  Take care of that person and the rest of the world will fade away.

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