I have a cousin who is a stay-at-home Dad. At one time, he was my sole reference for what it meant to be a stay-at-home Dad. Within the first year, he stopped shaving and got fat. He let his hair grow long and started to resemble the Trustafarians I hung out with in college. His “comfortable” clothes looked more “dirty” and “sloppy” to me and only served to strengthen my conviction “…that would never be my fate. And now I am becoming what I feared most. I’ve been letting myself go. I’m gaining weight, shaving every other day…or missing three days and then shaping my stubble into a starter beard. Then I’ll let that grow for about a week or two… until it’s a solid beard by anyone’s measure. I’ll then wear it for a another few days (to complete the illusion of intention) and then decide to shave it off or go all “Magnum P.I.” and take it off gradually…which can be pretty fun until you forget you have a 70’s mustache when you’re meeting some already skeptical stay-at-home-moms for the first time who probably think it looks more “Molester” than “Magnum”.
The irregular shaving can quickly go from bizarre fun to a pathetic attempt at masking my lack of motivation...or perhaps telegraphing my identify crisis. I keep catching myself giving up on looking presentable and trying to look more…professional. More…employed. Regardless of the countless articles I've read that depict at-home dads as "in-vogue", I don't live in Tribecca and so in my social circles....and in my neighborhood I am a minority. I’m struggling with feeling a little inadequate, underutilized and under-valued. It's not "raised eyebrows" I'm encountering as much as an immediate dismissal from conversation or worse...snide remarks and backhanded compliments for my choice to give our daughter the parental attention that too many of recent generations are lacking.