I Am Househusband
Domestic dad is more than just a hot piece of status.
Thursday, September 16, 2010
People over the years have called me many things. My favorites include: wordsmith, Next in Line and, of course, Beaver – because it rhymes with my last name. If I don’t ease off the pizza soon, it may also reflect the size of my tail.
Then came the “Fall Fashion” issue of Marie Claire magazine. This bastion of hemline and hairstyle trends declares that stay-at-home husbands, like me, are “the ultimate status symbol for the successful professional woman.”
Really? I’m the Jeffersonian “deluxe apartment in the sky” of spouses?
Diane Solle, director of the Coalition for Marriage, Family and Couple Education, told the magazine, “In a way, it’s almost like bragging for a woman to say she has a stay-at-home husband. Not only is she the breadwinner with a great job, but she’s also got this highly evolved male person – a feminist, father, and a husband who doesn’t care what the gender roles are.”
Nice, though I still feel somewhat like that Chihuahua peering out of Paris Hilton’s Prada handbag. Solle then finished her statement with, “It’s really an elevated life-form.”
“It’s”? “Life-form”? Did she just compare me to E.T.?
Forget this third-party analysis. My wife is the definition of the alpha woman: VP of an international Fortune 50 company, volunteer chairwoman of a national nonprofit organization, and collector of a paycheck that lets me buy brand-name rice and two-ply TP almost at will.
AS A TROPHY HUSBAND, I DEMAND YOU PRIMP AND PAMPER ME!
As she was on a business trip in Puerto Rico this week, I rang her iPhone to ask if I’m on par with her Volvo convertible.
ME: Would you say that being an at-home husband makes me the ultimate status symbol of your success?
HER: What? Where are the kids?
ME: Who? C’mon, answer the question. Do you brag to colleagues about my ability to bring home the bacon (that you pay for, of course) and fry it up in a pan?
HER: What are you getting at?
ME: I need a lifestyle upgrade. My wardrobe consists of beer company T-shirts and clearance-sale sneakers. I own a pay-as-you-go cell phone and drive a four-year-old minivan.
HER: But you chose all those things. And you love the minivan.
ME: Don’t confuse me with facts, MBA-wielding oppressor! As a trophy husband, by the power vested in me by a mainstream media outlet, I demand you primp and pamper me to befit my elevated station!
HER: Hey, if you don’t like it, you can get a full-time paying job and I’ll hire a chiseled male nanny.
ME: (Pause.) What would you like me to make tomorrow for dinner, dear?
My levelheaded wife later, as usual, made a point. My at-home status was a mutual decision, one I embrace, enjoy and – she’ll admit – am far better suited for than she is, in temperament and skill, with the serious exception of folding laundry. “You are always there when the kids or I or even the dog need you,” she said. “That’s not just being a status symbol.”
So, Marie Claire, what am I, this toy with a broken X chromosome, to make of this… and you, for that matter? Exactly three fall fashion issues ago, you extolled the benefits of owning a “starter husband.” Your writer described these temporary life partners as being like a first job, “where you learn some skill and polish your résumé before going after the position you really want.”
Oh, Marie Claire. I’d say you are a gold-digging tramp, but that would imply I have money. I think you’ll wear this label better: My glue-bound lady, you are a soul-sucking vamp.
I am not a luxury. For our family, I’m a necessity.