outnumbered by severely bitter, yet somehow terrifyingly capable, moms
unless i am completely delusional (not totally impossible), i think i've got a good hang of this whole stay-at-home-weeping-while-your-child-refuses-to-nap-then-drink-scotch-at-3-pm fatherhood thing. i got it down, more or less. gotten more zen on the whole napping front, seeing as how she sleeps through the night and i can't really complain. my sideburns are supremely bitchin'. wearing the bjorn no longer makes me feel all leprous. all's good.
every now and then, when the child and i are returning from an afternoon strolling through the neighborhood, chilling in the park or, mostly, carousing at the local public house, we will run into a neighbor. (a word about the hood: it has been overtaken by the stay-at-home zombiemom. stepford's got nothing on the ladies of park slope: the bugaboo strollers, the coffee klatches at tea lounge, the dark social dance of the playground, small talk teeming with ill-concealed envy, intrigue and treachery.) so when the kidlet and i return from a stroll we will invariably encounter one of these odd ducks -- all brittle smiles -- and they will ask me, "so how's it going? how are you handling staying at home?"
it's clear that they want me to crack. they want me, the dad, to fail. they are rooting against me, all of them. maybe, just maybe, they are jealous because their own loveless husbands would never dream to stay home (personally, i like this interpretation). mostly i can tell they want me to confide, to crumble, to shake my disheveled head and cry "she won't nap, she always cries, she doesn't like her bottle!" and they will gleefully reply: "babies, what can you do?" never! i will not give them the satisfaction of seeing me play into that tired old hapless-dad meme. that will only happen behind closed doors, when mrs nice guy returns from work to find me in the storage closet, naked and drunk in the fetal position, sobbing quietly. publicly, however, life is good. granted, since i refuse to commiserate, i just don't have any momfriends. thank goodness for dear old jim beam. he's always there for me.
ok, fine, i will cop to one dad shortcoming. i don't know if this is a gender thing or not, but here it is: the moms all know how to dress their kids impeccably. my wife included. me? i cannot even dress myself without multiple attempts and focus groups, and even then i usually end up leaving the house looking like some dishonorably discharged soldier of the salvation army. example: yesterday i put my daughter in an adorable violet onesie. but then i wondered, what now? a dress? overalls? shorts? jeans? i tried a pair of orange shorts. she looked like benny, the retarded office worker in LA Law. fine. i tried a denim overall-dress. she looked like a lunatic baby, the tiniest neighborhood cat lady. fine. jeans? she looked like a fat german tourist. gah! by now she was crying because i kept putting clothes on her and then taking them off. finally i went with a tried-and-true matching top and bottom. my new strategy: keep her naked as much as possible. if venturing outside, just dress her in something practical. don't try to get creative.
the next time i run into an overzealous neighbor acting impossibly interested in my doomed dadhood, i will tell her the truth: "oh, she's fine, but she hates her burlap loincloth. her skin 'chafes' and 'bleeds.' she cries all day. babies, what can you do?"