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The post where I channel Velma...

For those readers who don't get the pop culture reference, Velma was the character from Scooby Doo cartoons who used to--fairly regularly--wander into a "haunted" castle, have her glasses break or knocked off her face, then stumble around in pitch black (with bats flying around) yelling, "my glasses! I can't see without my glasses!"

Yep, that's me. And there's plenty of blame to go around. Coming out of the grocery on Saturday afternoon, I handed Leda my glasses case (I was wearing sunglasses at the time so my normal glasses were in the case) to amuse her until we got to the car. My bad. Kelly put her in the car seat without taking the glasses case away. Her bad. And then there was Leda--who knows better. Yet, as we pulled into the parking spot behind our building there's my glasses frame...in two pieces.

So we emergency head to the nearest glasses store in an attempt to get there before they close. Which was fruitless because it was nothing they could fix...which confuses me that eyeglass stores don't have some sort of glue on premises. Anyway, they suggested taking it somewhere to solder the pieces back together. These frames and Rx were over 2 years old so no thanks to that.

And I ended up with an appointment at one of those "two pair plus an eye exam cheap" places...not as cheap as I thought. But not their fault. The deal can hardly apply to people like me with lenses so thick it requires an upgraded plastic to fit frames. I'm nearly blind. I picked a pair of plastic frames quite a bit like my current model. And then for my "2nd pair," I was going to go with something different and a wire frame like I used to have years ago. Until I found out that would require even more upgrading. So I quickly found a backup pair in plastic and was happy to hear there will be a one year warranty where all I have to do is bring the broken remains (other than lost or stolen) and they'll give me a free replacement one time. Might be handy with these kids. The irony is I had just begun putting my sunglasses case up and away from Leda because I knew she'd figured out how to unzip it.

This was her way of saying it was time to get my eyes checked. Not that we wanted to spend the money currently. But I consider it lesson learned.

The really interesting (and unexpected) part of the story came from the doctor who did my eye exam. The assistant who did the preliminary work was a really nice guy who was in a great mood for working on a Sunday and completely laughing with me (not at me) about what it's like to have kids who break stuff.

The doctor, on the other hand, was all business. But pleasant enough. He did his work, pronounced my eyes healthy, and was looking for small talk to fill in the monotony of seeing patient after patient. So what I'd put on my medical form under "occupation" was a nice distraction for him. I'd written "at-home dad." And this was the first time he'd ever seen anyone put anything like that.

He was curious. In a polite-but-you-are-a-freakshow kind of way. He wanted to hear all about it. What did I do before I was a SAHD? What does my wife do? How old are my kids? Do I like it?

The doctor was younger, clearly driven professionally, and admitted to having fairly high-strung Asian parents when it came to his mom watching his future children. We had an interesting short chat about letting kids explore and push limits to learn and how some parents (like his) tend to be overly aggressive in stopping children before they can get into trouble. Funny, given why I was at the eyeglass store.

But the conversation left me feeling very alone. I am not. But that's how it left me emotionally. We may be growing in number and connected by the internet, but we are a demographic that is largely misunderstood...or, at least, not understood. We're too few to be in the mainstream where people see us and are used to us enough so we're not a bit of a spectacle. In my daily life, I'm fortunate enough to live in a community where I rarely get attitude or questions from people about being the caregiver for my children. But if I step outside that community...or even outside the small subgroup of parents and educators who are more used to seeing it...I can sometimes get the feeling of being an alien.

And the doctor even asked what I do to blow off the obvious stress of caring for small children every day. I told him triathlon, but totally downplayed it. I was already in the minority, no need to further dig myself into a hole by explaining that I enjoy running long distances, biking long distances, and trying to swim in open bodies of water.

When you put it like that it sounds crazy! I know some dads out there encounter a lot more resistance to being a SAHD and I feel fortunate that it usually isn't my experience. But, for me, it's more subtle in the way that society just isn't quite setup for people like me yet. That's changing. And I'm proud to be out there doing the changing as a kind of cultural leader. Not a role I wanted per se. But I took it willingly and it still feels weird. It's not unlike when I have conversations about my former employer at the museum and become the de facto representative who will explain policies, procedure, philosophy, etc. to whoever has me pinned down. Like it or not, I'm sometimes the only one available to someone...I represent all SAHD to them.

That's a lot of pressure.

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