Wednesday, December 18, 2013

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MORE Confessions of a Stay at Home Dad (Part III)

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I told Mel that the woman that hit on me at the pool didn’t really look at me when I came in. But after she saw me do a dance routine with Norah in the lazy river, she couldn’t stop smiling at me. This was something Norah and I often did in the living room. It ended with a big finale, where I’d hold Norah over my head with both hands, and spin while she extended her little body, one leg straight, the other bent, both hands over her head in a circle. 

The finale looked a lot like this. Only we were at the city pool. And I was 31 and Norah was 4

“The woman asked me my name,” I said. “Then she asked about the kids. We had to leave early because I got a little freaked out.”
And as I told her the story, I started to think about the trajectory of the events. Suddenly it dawned on me that she wasn’t attracted to me until she saw me playing with Norah. Then she couldn’t stop smiling. I started to wonder if she wasn’t attracted to me physically, which was likely. I wasn’t wearing a shirt and after my 30th birthday I developed what I call chest-ticles. But she was attracted to me because I was there, alone, playing with my kids. My head exploded.
“Do you think she was coming on to me because of the kids?” I said.
Mel placed her right hand over mine and said, “You’re a really cute dad.” 
Clint: Cute Dad
I had no idea that a woman could be attracted to a man because they were a good father, but perhaps this is what happens in your thirties. Most single women seem to have kids at this stage. Their priorities have changed. They are not really in the market for good looks anymore, but they are searching for good fathers. This all seemed crazy to me, but then I thought about how difficult it is to raise a family. How much time, money, and mental effort it takes. I thought about when my dad left my mom, and how much she struggled to make ends meet while trying to raise three kids. This is not to say that it can’t be done alone, obviously it can, but I must say that it is much easer when Mel and I work together. And perhaps what these ladies were looking for was someone who could help fill the gap. The more I thought about it, the more practical it seemed. It wasn’t about looks anymore. This wasn’t high school or college. This was parenthood. Sex appeal in your 30s is about more than being funny, or attractive, or charming (not that those things probably hurt) but it is about raising a family, which is the hardest thing I have ever done.
Mel looked at me, smiled, and said, “I probably should tell you that I’ve been getting hit on at school.”
“Who do I have to kill,” I said.
She told me about some guy at the library who asked her name and sat down next to her. Then about some dude in the bookstore. And finally about some guy in an elevator. All were in their early twenties. And all, I assumed, were better looking than myself. My mind worked that way. Each one of them I imagined with dark hair, dark dreamy eyes, chiseled bodies, and slick smiles. The kind of guy that I always wanted to be, but never was. The kind of guy that was waiting around every corner, ready to sweep Mel off her feet, and out of my life.
I don’t know how I look when I am nervous. Perhaps I bit my lip like Mel. Or maybe I shake or twitch. But I have too assume that Mel knows me as well as I know her, and the fact that I was a little nervous must have showed. 
Mel: Hot Mom

Mel moved a little closer to me on the sofa, put her arms around me, and we kissed.
“Do I have anything to be worried about?” I asked.
She smiled. “No. I am completely Clint-sexual. You’re the only person I’m attracted to.”
“Are you only attracted to me because I’m a cute Dad?” I asked.
“That’s a big part of it, yes.” Mel raised her eyebrows.
 I was a little irritated by this at first. I was still clinging to the notion that I needed to be sexy in the tall, dark, and handsome kind of way. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this placed the ball in my court more than it ever had before. It’s not that I planned to leave Mel and strike out on my own, using my kids at parks and pools to attract hot single moms. But understanding that the dynamics of what was, and was not, attractive gave me a little more confidence in myself and my personal image. There were things I couldn’t change, my height and nose for example, but I did have some control over how much I interact with my kids. How I treated them, and my family. And I suppose that made me more attractive. And, frankly, it felt good to be attractive.
The more I thought about myself as a sexy, stay at home dad, the more I thought about Mel as a Mom. I thought about how she knows the names and families of every one of our children’s friends. I thought about how she knew that if Norah drank too much milk she would get constipated, and exactly which Scooby-Doo books at the library would give Tristan nightmares. She knew those kids in and out, much more than I think I ever did. And frankly, that was hot. I knew I could never find someone who would love my kids like she loved them. Or understood them that well. Nor would I want to invest so much time in trying to understand someone like I understand Mel. I will not lie; it felt good to finally feel like a sexy man at the park, the pool, and the mall. But I suppose it only showed me that I am Mel-sexual. If that makes sense.

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Clint Edwards is a tutor coordinator at Oregon State University. He is also the former co-host of the Weekly Reader on KMSU and a graduate of the MFA program at Minnesota State University. His writing has been listed as notable by Best American Essays, and has been published in The Baltimore Review, and through The University of North Dakota, Boston College, Emerson College, The University of South Carolina, and Minnesota State University.