Monday, March 7, 2011

Being a dad in a mommy's world

I am a man. I am also a dad, and I help run a website dedicated mostly to mothers – we make customized photo cards for Christmas and other holidays and special occasions. That fact alone puts me in a strange position.

I am a marketer. I don’t sell chainsaws or build tractors like my friends at Caterpillar. I do change light bulbs and air filters around the house. I mow my own lawn and teach my kid to play sports (my son is currently on a 3rd and 4th grade basketball team and is district champion in the 25 yard breaststroke). I am a man and I have a man card to prove it.

But my job and my manliness often interact in funny ways. Our website – wwwCrinkledNose.com – is viewed by women around the world. We sell photo Christmas cards, personalized note pads and magnetic photo calendars almost exclusively to women. I’m no relationship expert and my Y-chromosome sometimes gets in my way of effectively communicating with my target audience. I think this puts me in a not-so-unique position and begs an important question: how can I be a manly man while working in my very feminine work environment?

Now, don’t get me wrong. I’m not the definitive source for answers and I don’t like to talk about my feelings any more than I like to record names of gift givers while eating chocolate biscuits at baby showers, but I’ve collected some thoughts on the subject. My hope is that a few manly men will read, and some will be a little prouder of their role in mommy’s world.

Moms are better at some things than us guys, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try. Moms make the ouches and booboos go away better, but we get to scare away the bad guys. When your kid has a monster under the bed, whom do they call? You, dad. Even though we can’t coordinate an outfit for our daughter’s first day of school, we can still be there with the camera and a good luck hug. We can pick them up from practice and take them to the dance. Our kids don’t need another mom. If they’re blessed enough to live with both parents still, they need one of each of us.

For that matter, our non-emotional response is sometimes what our kids need in moments of stress and anxiety. With grease under our nails and stains on our shirts, we’re perfectly equipped for plenty of these times. Who jump starts the car when it needs it and who shovels the snow so they can get to school? We do. Not that women can’t, but that’s our job, and doing it makes us feel more like we can be there and in some weird way bond with our families.

So no, I will never be the nurturing, compassionate figure in my family that my wife has become so effortlessly, but I can and will play an important role, a dad’s role in mommy’s world.

~ By Ben Fineburg

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