Call Me a Babysitter One More Time

babysitter

There’s this notion. This little bit of language that people use when they see a dad out and about with their kids–alone. What is it? It’s the idea that because there is no mother present that the dad is babysitting. Have you run into this situation before?

You’re walking through the mall, or Target, or are at the park with your kids in tow. And a stranger stops you.

“Oh, your kids are so cute. How’s Daddy doing babysitting you?”

Or, you’re out in public and one or all of your kids are having a meltdown. Someone approaches.

“Don’t worry kids, mommy will be back soon.”

It has happened to me. Thankfully it hasn’t happened a ton. But it has happened enough that it pisses me off to no end. I’m sorry? Did you just ask me if I was babysitting MY OWN KIDS?! Walk away. Walk away now.

This isn’t something that was planning on writing about, to be honest. But it’s long been something that annoys the hell out of me. Yesterday I read a post on Scary Mommy that is asserting the same thing that I am–and it really got me thinking about the subject again. Admittedly, I don’t usually care for most of the content that Scary Mommy puts out. But this one? It hit the nail on the head and I was really glad they published it. Dads are not babysitters. We are parents.

Is there somebody else giving me money that I am not aware of to take care of my children? That’s a big bag of nope! If someone wants to give me money, though, that’s cool. I like money.

But Nick, you say, why is it so bad to ask a dad if they are babysitting? They don’t mean anything by it. No. Just no. It doesn’t matter if you aren’t trying to be insulting or aren’t trying to insinuate that I’m less of a parent than my wife. But guess what? That’s exactly what you’re doing. I bust my ass to be the best damn dad I can be to Sophia and Maddie. And I’m damn proud to be their dad. If you haven’t noticed by the things I’ve written or the insane amount of pictures, quotes, and videos that I share of them, being a dad is my life. So, if you want to devalue that by calling me a babysitter, we’re going to have a problem.

dads-dont-babysit

That’s Chris Routly from Daddy Doctrines, proudly rocking his shirt from the National At-Home Dad Network. Image courtesy City Dads Group.

Look, I’m not saying that I’m going to explode in your face if you call me a babysitter. But you’ll get a death stare from me and probably a few words that you’ll wish I hadn’t said. Stop perpetuating the archaic stereotype that dads are the lesser of the parents. Guess what? Parenting is typically a team sport. And the team is usually 50/50. So, call me a dad, a father, ask me how my day of parenting my kids is going. Just don’t call me a babysitter. You’re better than that.

Sharing My Struggle

11017500_796305033756995_4362691894724985392_nI’m not one to get overly-serious when I write in this space. Do I complain? Yes. Do I bemoan my screaming kids acting like tyrants? Yes, I do that, too. Right now, though, I’m struggling. And I need to get it out.

I’ve written before about feeling like I was failing as a dad. That was after a very long weekend on my own with both girls for the first time–when Maddie was still an infant. It was a tough weekend. I learned a lot from it. It made me stronger. But, right now, I feel like I’m scraping by in my role as a dad.

Perhaps it’s the age that both girls are at right now. Sophia is one of the most strong-willed four-year olds I’ve ever met in my life. And Maddie is right in that terrible twos pipeline, about to turn two next month. But, I feel beaten down. Like I don’t know what I’m doing. Like I’m being overrun by two kids. It feels like my instincts have been wrong on far too many occasions. They act up, misbehave, scream, yell, fight and I go for corrective action–it always feels like I’m doing the wrong thing.

I can feel my blood boil when they don’t listen. My patience dissipates in record time, and I feel like I could snap. I feel like I’m grasping at straws. Nothing works. I read about different techniques, ask for help, and no matter what I do, I feel like it’s wrong. I’ll tell you this much–it sucks. Being filled with self-doubt about the thing that you are most proud to be is heart-wrenching.

I want to be a great dad. I want to be someone that Sophia and Maddie can look up to. I don’t want to be someone they look at and get scared of because they think I’m going to yell. I don’t want to be that person. I don’t want to be that dad. It seems like I’m heading in that direction and I can’t stand it. Maybe I need to look in the mirror and figure some things out, I’m really not sure. But, I feel like I’m failing.

This isn’t some new realization, either. This has been eating at me for some time now. I’ve just been doing what I always do when something is getting to me–push it down a little deeper and hope it eventually stops. It’s not the healthiest way to deal with a feeling, but it’s just what I’ve always done. It’s terrible, honestly. I’m well aware that when something like this is going on, I need to get it out. Talk it out. Get it off my chest, and figure out a solution. I’m not looking for sympathy here or to be told I’m doing just fine. I just need to get this out so that I’m not burying it.

This can’t be something that I let simmer and burn inside of me for a long time. There are too many long-term ramifications to doing that. That’s why I’m writing it out. This is as much for me as it is for anyone else. I know that I’m not the only one out there–mom or dad–that feel like they’re flailing. This is my struggle and I have work to do.

If you’re struggling too, I’d love to hear about it. How do you deal with it? Leave it in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter.

Video

Sometimes Ya Gotta Do Stupid Things For Your Kids

Sometime all it takes is a hint of a laugh to break a child from the midst of tantrum-hood.

Knowing what you, as a parent–and tantrum-breaker–can do to get that laugh is going to change from instant-to-instant. Hurting yourself is one way to get a laugh. I’ve gone to that well far too many times to count. Sometimes it takes singing out-of-tune (as if I can sing any other way). Or, telling a joke.

But, there are times, like in the above video, where you just do something completely stupid and it works like gangbusters. To set the scene: We were on our way home on Monday night and Sophia was clearly tired and wanted her cup of PediaSure, which she has every night at bed time. Well, we didn’t have any with us. And we had a solid 30 minutes until we’d be home. The whining started. It got worse. And it got louder. So, in that instant I blurted out that I wanted my milk, in the highest, most baby-like voice I could muster. And, what do you know? It worked. To the point that she clamored for me to repeat it ad nauseam.

I had no idea I could make that voice. Believe me, I’ve done a million voices in my lifetime and THAT was never one of them. I’m glad Sarah was riding next to me to capture it–without me even knowing she was recording it. Seriously, sometimes it just takes you doing the most stupid thing you can think of to snap your kid from sure tantrum into laughter.

What are some of the stupid things you’ve done to snap your kid from falling into a tantrum? If there’s video, share it! Let me know in the comments, on Facebook, or Twitter!