Am I Hallucinating Or Am I The Only Dad Who Takes His Kids Out All By Himself?

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This weekend, my wife had a lot of things she wanted to get done. Alas, it’s hard to get much of anything done with a three-year-old underfoot, so I eagerly volunteered to get our daughter out of the house so she could have some peace and quiet to focus on what she needed to do.

I took our daughter to a nearby mall because I had to buy something at the Apple store. In any event, because we were killing time I also took my daughter to the Barnes & Noble, the toy store, and a number of other shops. I know, I know – this is the ultimate yuppie outing. I wish I could say it was something more manly, such as a trip to the auto parts store to rebuild the 426 Hemi on my ’70 Dodge Charger, but it was what it was.

In any event, while we were out, I came into contact with a lot of other families, store clerks, and people otherwise out on weekend shopping excursions. Because my daughter is adorable, precocious, and outgoing – OK, maybe I’m a wee bit biased here – she drew a lot of attention from others. Which is fine, except that sooner or later the kindly strangers would look up, see me accompanying the ‘lil ball of spunk, smile and then boom – any smiles they had for my daughter invariably gave way to a look of pity, conspicuously cast in my direction.

I have no obvious goiters or anything, though perhaps I radiate a pitiable vibe for reasons unknown. But I think there’s a simpler explanation – divorce has become so common, that anytime anyone sees a father alone with their child on a weekend, they wonder — subconsciously or not — whether they have weekend custody.

Yes, I wear a wedding ring – but it’s not like that leaps out at you. I thought I was imagining things, but then I started paying attention to the dozens of other families that were also out for the day. There were lots of married couples out with their kids, and lots of mothers with their children, but no dads alone with their kids. And this is hardly the first time I’ve felt alone in this regard.

Now I spend a lot of time by myself out with the kids because a) I enjoy it and b) I have a more flexible schedule than a lot of dads, so I might be an outlier in this regard. Perhaps you’ll all tell me I have a persecution complex and I’m imagining that I’m the only guy that seems to out alone with his kids. Or maybe all you dads will tell me that I would have seen you with your kids if I’d been at the auto parts store, instead of some namby-pamby stroll through The Container Store.

But it’s also true that I’ve had multiple discussions with male friends and colleagues who dread having to take care of the kids when their wife is away – which is something I’ve never shied away from or found to be unbearable. If any dads reading this still feel awkward about going out alone with their kids are reading this, trust me – both you and your kids will benefit from the experience. And your wife probably deserves some time to herself, no?

Besides, if enough of you start joining me on weekend excursions with the kids, maybe they’ll stop looking at me funny.

(Photo: Monkey Business/Shutterstock)