Dear Administrator of the Moms Group in Our Upper-Middle-Class Town,
I know I don’t fit all of your qualifications. Namely, the mom part.
However, I implore you to overlook the minor issue of my gender and peer into my soul. My exhausted, unappreciated, and lonesome stay-at-home father soul starved for communication beyond the incessant singing of Cocomelon.
Thank you so much for inviting my wife to your weekday morning get-togethers, but again, she can’t make it—she has work. And again, I can make it, as I’ve abandoned my career (note: not in childcare) to fetch organic gummy bunnies and anticipate the needs of two toddlers every second of every day for—wait for it—no compensation.
I understand and acknowledge that women deserve a safe space far from the male gaze. A wonderful dreamland where moms feel secure to recognize each other’s dedication to their kids and make passive-aggressive comments about the childrearing tactics of whichever mom didn’t show up that day. Sheer bliss.
If granted admission, I’ll do everything to ensure you and your members are comfortable with my presence. But not “comfortable” in, like, a creepy way. Ugh, I’m sorry I can’t think clearly anymore. Who’d have thought putting everyone’s needs above your own during a never-ending childcare shift would be so draining?
Don’t get me wrong. I know it’s worthwhile. All the thankless Diaper Genie relining and bedtime negotiations are worth it when they turn to dad for help. When they fall on a flat surface, get kinetic sand in their eyes again, or are terrified of the vacuum and run into my arms—it’s the best.
But I’m looking for community. People who understand and acknowledge that childrearing is more than just sitting around in pajamas having a cheeky afternoon wine directing kids’ tiny eyes to Frozen—it’s work.
Bottom line: I’ll do anything you want. Cook? Clean? Do all your laundry regardless of the time of day? No worries, I’m already doing it for the ultra-competitive salary of zero dollars a year.
I need someone to watch my kids while I use a bathroom with a lock on it. I need to hear an adult voice besides Daniel Tiger’s weird father between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. on weekdays. I need someone to acknowledge what I do all day is important.
And trust me—there’s nowhere else for me to go. There is no dad group. And even if there were, most fathers don’t get it. Many dads I’ve met talk only about their lawns and how jealous they are that I don’t work. They say things like, “Wish I could relax at home all day” and “Must be nice doing whatever you want.” Can you believe that? I haven’t been allowed to make a decision in twenty-seven months.
These are the same guys who read their kids a book once a week and expect a parade. I change fourteen diapers a day. Fourteen. Am I asking for monetary compensation? No. Healthcare benefits? No. Entry into a group that understands having their contributions to society utterly disregarded? Yes. That’s exactly what I’m asking.
Do you need references?
My wife will verify that the bags under my eyes are real. That my chipped teeth were ground down because our kids demand pasta, then waffles, then pasta, then waffles—Every. Single. Day. Bandit, Elmo, and Olaf will be difficult to reach, but they can vouch for the unfathomable amount of spit-up I’ve scrubbed out of every surface of my house while the kids nap and my partner works.
I know I’m unwelcome. I know you don’t think I could understand what you mothers go through, and maybe I can’t. After all, I didn’t birth my children, my nipples are useless, and at the end of the day, I’m still a man who could probably return to work much faster than a woman in my shoes could.
But when I witness members of this group in the grocery store before 8:00 a.m. on a weekday with Play-Doh in their hair, staring vacantly into a box of penne while their children ask inane questions repeatedly—I feel seen.
Thank you for your ongoing consideration.
I’m so tired,