A couple of days ago I was driving down the street and saw a guy on the sidewalk wearing a baby on his chest and pushing two more in a stroller. "I should get a photo of him for the blog, proof that there are stay-at-home dads aplenty around here," I thought. It was twenty minutes later that I thought that, unfortunately; I smacked my head in classic Homer Simpson "D'oh!" fashion and went about my business (pills for the dog, exchanging a Christmas gift).
I forgot about it completely until the next day, when I saw another man lugging another baby around outside the supermarket. Then I thought again about the guy the day before with three kids, looked around for more child-wielding fathers, and again went about my business. Driving home I passed Green Lake and saw a group of women and children walking across a field toward the playground. No men. I say that now, a day later, thinking back. There may have been a man or two in that gaggle, I don't know. Didn't notice.
This week's observations and non-observations lead me to believe that -- in one of the more progressive areas of one of America's most progressive cities, at least -- fathers caring for children is not something that's on a lot of people's radar. Certainly not mine, at least. I'm fairly observant -- I spent a large part of my professional life observing things for a living -- and apparently this doesn't blip my radar. Or anyone else's radar, either; the next person who has an adverse or overly enthusiastic reaction to my toting NJ around with no mom in sight will be the first. So far, squiring the little tyke around town, I've been nothing but a transportation device for the new Princess of Seattle.
Of course, it's not like this everywhere. Last night I was talking to a friend who called from his Red State home. At one point, he suggested in passing that I talk about a particular issue "with some of the other mommies." I smiled at that and prepared to react with mock indignation, but the conversation moved on and eventually it was too far in the rear view mirror to mention. There were other things to worry about, in particular the disastrous football game we were both watching.
Anyway, I'd bet good money that I'm the only parent of either sex in this fair country of ours who bottle-fed their baby while watching "A Fistful of Dollars" this week. "For a Few Dollars More" is on the DVR for next week, and I'll dig out my "The Good, the Bad and the Ugly" DVD the week after that. In fact, today I adopted The Man With No Name's determined stoicism when NJ decided she was hungry and I hadn't finished my own lunch. She threw quite a little tantrum, but it wasn't her time yet and after a week of lunching on her schedule, I wanted to sit for a minute and enjoy my leftover Indian food. Every town has a boss, kid.