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Inclusion Delusion

Inclusion Delusion

By Nathan Bright

The first egg goes in beautifully. No trace of shell in the mixture at all. With my speed being matched only by artistry, I blister through the kitchen confident of a timely meal that will lead into clean-up, followed by coats, then a punctual appearance to a friend’s house.

“I help,” says my two year old.

Her words resonate like a movie moment demonstrating fear and confusion. “Of course you will sweetie,” I say. the Dad in me knows to include her in anything I can. It builds skill, confidence, and a bond between parent and child. However, the Me in me obsesses on the clock. She’ll slow me down. Dinner will be late. We’ll rush out the door and be tardy, again, to our function. Again.

I let her help. Eggs explode, raw meat almost in mouth, hair stuck to counter, falls off stool, cries, help stir, help wipe floor, help stir more, wipe floor more and dear-heaven-has-the-oven-been-preheating-for-an-hour-how-much-is-the-gas-bill-going-to-be?

This scenario plays out quite often. Patience in letting them help is par for the course. By letting them help we know it’ll be more work for us, but they need the experience anyway. But how does this translate into other areas?

I’m a stay-at-home-dad (by choice). Our numbers are growing. Just like any non-traditional movement there’s a stigma over which we’d like to hop. The “Mr. Mom” syndrome, if you will, such as the bumbling man guy who fashions duct tape into cereal bowls. As amazing as duct tape cereal bowls would be (and completely doable!) us stay-at-home-dads don’t want to be pigeon-holed into being thought of as bumbling.

I know I’m great at cooking, cleaning, kid activities, multitasking, etc., but what do others think of me? My fear is I’m viewed as the two-year old and my wife is the adult. It’s thought that she lets me help only to secretly clean up my mess afterward. These situations demonstrate what would come out of a child’s mouth and what folks would presume comes out of the stay-at-home-dad’s mouth:

Situation: Sweeping the Floor
Adult Figure and/or Wife Asks: “want to help?”
Two Year Old says: “let me walk through this pile of dirt first.”
Bumbling Dad says: “I’ll get the leaf blower.”

Situation: Laundry
Adult Figure and/or Wife Asks: “want to help?”
Two Year Old says: “I can fit 4 bras on my head.”
Bumbling Dad says: “I can fit 6 bras on my head.”

Situation: Grocery Shopping
Adult Figure and/or Wife asks: “want to help?”
Two Year Old says: “take me to the toys or I’ll cry.”
Bumbling Dad says: “take me to the beer or I’ll cry. Did you know I can fit 6 bras on my head?”

Point being – I’m not bumbling. I’m not merely included…I’m autonomous, much the way my two-year-old soon will be. I run an excellent home for the benefit of my family. My wife trust me to be productive and make good decisions. Now if you’ll excuse me I need to look into that duct tape thing. And maybe fold bras.

Nathan Bright is a 30-something stay-at-home dad who resides near St. Louis, MO. He is a husband to an amazing woman and father to a doubly amazing 2 year old little girl. His blessed home is scheduled to be even more blessed in March, as Nathan and his wife will welcome a second daughter to their family. When Nathan is not blogging for OurMilkMoney.com’s The Daddy’s Den, he writes and illustrates his own children’s books. Available for purchase immediately is Maddi Patti and her Stay-at-Home-Daddy.