Friday, April 13, 2012

A Riddle

What’s the difference between a stay-at-home mom and a stay-at-home dad?
A can of beer and a laptop.

Yes, I am spending the day at home with the two youngest so that Anne-Marie can get some shopping done in Pembroke. Nothing says redneck like a can of beer in one hand and a baby in the other, I got to say. Luckily we have a fence around the yard so the neighbours cannot witness this spectacle.
I wait patiently for the older girls to get home from school so I can hand one of my handfuls over to them, and to begin to type with both hands. Capitalization can wait for the edit, I guess.

No man needs to be convinced of the irreducibility of the spouses. It just takes mom to leave for a few hours now and then. You’d think that after five kids I’d be a pretty confident single parent. And I am. I never panic. But I do reach for the Baby Tylenol quicker than some. The baby is teething, I guess. Well, she is bugging me. Close enough.
But it’s not all for loss. I concentrate on certain aspects of family life when I’m on duty. My parental attention never lines up perfectly with Anne-Marie’s. That’s okay; I must love myself and accept myself in all of my fatherly crapulence. (BTW, Microsoft Word recognizes ‘crapulence.’) To be fair, even though I may overdo the glucose and the crackers in the kids’ diet, I do try to do at least one bit of ‘deep-cleaning’ on these occasions. That kind of thing makes up for all the mistakes and oversights I commit over the interim.

When we were young my brothers and I used to like it when we were left with dad every now and then. That meant spaghetti for supper, which we could eat in front of the TV. But doesn’t that say it all? It wouldn’t be special if it was all the time; if was all the time that would be bad. Mom brings a certain predictability – stability – that dad is not altogether suited for, or perhaps for which some dads are not suited. This dad and this dad’s father among others. Dads are like fireworks; mom is a campfire.
So what am I making the kids for supper? I bet you’ll guess frozen pizza or perhaps can-o-ravioli. Nope. We are having breakfast for supper. How very dad!

So, in the end, am I a wise or foolish virgin – or perhaps, wise or foolish steward?
I live my life one way and I parent that one way too, that is, according to my spiritual master’s specification: dilige et quod fac vislove and do what seems right to the one who loves. (My rather liberal translation of Augustine’s famous maxim.) In the end, the kids will grow up knowing that dad loved them despite his inattention to detail. And they will grow up knowing mom loved them because of her attention to detail.


  1. I remember being left home with our dad on three very specific occasions. On the first, my dad judged a Barbie beauty contest under the trees/houseplants of our house in Ottawa. I am the younger sister by three years so I always won the competitions. I must have been quite whiny. On the second occasion, I remember pillows galore set up all around the living room and Dad sitting amidst the chaos on what was the equivalent of a laptop then (perhaps a book?). And on the third occasion I remember him actually allowing me and a friend to have a water fight indoors! I remember my friend's eyes wide with wonder. As a result, my mother didn't leave very often. I have not married my father;)

  2. I guess he was sitting with a book not on it.

  3. I find it very humorous how much your dad reminds me of me! It's also scary.

  4. The only times I remember my dad watching us was when mom had a baby, and did the 1-3 days in hospital. Of course, she had 8 babies so I remember many times camping out and sleeping in front of the tv, who knows what we ate but I'm still living so it didn't kill me. It's is the novelty, mom's the abiding steadiness.

    And would that be a Corona you've got in your hand...cause I've got one in mine! he he he