struggle with feelings of isolation at first, especially before our daughter, Everly,
could speak. There were days when I would answer a phone call in the waning
hours of the afternoon and be startled by the volume of my regular speaking
voice -- I'd realized it hadn't been used all day for anything but silly,
nonsensical sounds that would make my daughter giggle.
spontaneity, a dear old friend of mine, was led out of the door by two tiny hands.
In the past, my working hours had been at night, when I took the stage at
clubs and coffee houses. During the daytime, I was free to explore, paint, or play
music. To fuel my creativity, I took the occasional motorcycle ride through
Golden Gate Park or down the Pacific Coast Highway. In the evening, I'd ride in
a cab through the lights of the city, and the only thing on my mind would be
whether or not to open with the new song I'd written that afternoon. Suddenly, these
unstructured days gave way to carefully planned schedules, built around nap-times,
feedings, doctor's visits, and fragile toddler moods that could easily dip into
I took pride
in learning my daughter's routines, the tricks that would get her to eat and
sleep, her individual quirks and needs. Yet there were times in the beginning
when I felt invisible. Whenever people had questions about her care and well
being, they almost always were directed towards my wife. This was hard to take.
Not only was I not "winning the bread," so to speak, I wasn't even being
acknowledged for all of the hard work I was putting into raising my child.
People were justifiably amazed that my wife could excel at her job while being
a truly amazing mother. But I felt displaced, or lost in the mix, as questions
about my daughter's day-to-day life were directed over my head.
My new role also provoked some peculiar reactions from strangers. At one doctor's
appointment, a nurse was astonished when I told her I was a stay-at-home dad
"Really? I've never met one before!" she said, staring at me as if I were an
exotic animal. In some cases, I couldn't tell whether the inquisitive looks I received
from check-out clerks were attributable to my tattoos and occasional thick
beard or to the forgotten pink and blue plastic animal and bow-shaped clips
Everly had placed in my hair earlier in the day.
birth of our son, Arlo, I've been drawing even more stares -- but I've come to
realize that not all of them are dubious. Some onlookers seem delighted by the
sight of a man fully engaged in caring for his children. Oftentimes, an
older woman will ask if I need help doing something as simple and everyday as
getting the stroller out of the back of the van and loading the kids into it.
One lady even asked if I needed her help holding Arlo while I was at the self
check-out line in the grocery store. I couldn't help but think that if I had
been a mother with a child, the invitation may not have been extended.