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No Place for Sissies
By Bill E. Branscum   ©2001

It's tough to be a single Dad, it's a whole new world and, depending upon what kind of husbands and fathers we were, how much of a contribution we made around the house and what we know how to do, it can be overwhelming. To those "Manly Men" who never washed a dish, wiped a butt, or swept a floor before the wife finally gave up in despair and frustration and left you with it all, I wish you the best of luck. Being the wonderfully compassionate soul that I am, I'm not going to say a word about "poetic justice."

Your past performance notwithstanding, I do want to encourage you to see this as the challenge it is, and rise to the occasion, laboring under no illusion that being "Mr. Mom" in any way diminishes you as a man. I suppose it's a question of definition, but in my mind, a "man" does what he's called to do, and needs to do, for those who depend upon him.

You're either a man or you're not - you can meet your responsibilities as a father taking care of your children without fear that it will turn you into some sort of pitiful "wuss." This is truly no place for sissies.

I have navigated grocery carts down a thousand aisles all by myself, picking my way thru Publix and finding my way to the door. I can still program a LORAN, or a GPS unit, and navigate an offshore powerboat to anyplace it has the fuel to reach. I can fly a single engine aircraft as well.
I have changed my share of diapers, I have wiped my share of little butts and I am proud of the fact that no child of mine ever had a rash due to my inattention. I can still change my own tires and I can press a four-speed truck transmission into place without benefit of a jack.

I can read a cook book and follow a recipe - my Hollandaise Sauce is, "to die for" and no child of mine has ever eaten anything that came frozen in aluminum foil.

Chilton and Haynes write books for me too - I can still tune up my truck, replace brake pads and repack bearings. I haven't suddenly gotten confused over which end of the pool stick to hit the cue ball with either.

I like baking, and I like boxing; I'm no expert at either one but my baking hasn't got people suddenly kicking sand in my face.

I really do like baking. In fact, I was offered the opportunity to "Chair" the Laurel Oak PTA Baking Committee - I am proud to say that they asked me to fill that position because I make cookies, brownies, fudge . . . as well as anyone, and significantly better than most. I accepted that responsibility and I was tickled to death to do it. I have made a lot of wonderful things from cookies to fudge, from pies to ice cream.

The children in my kids classes all know me as, "Dook's Dad" or "Ryan's Dad" or oftentimes, "Mr. Mom." My own kids call me that and my personalized license plate says "MR MOMS." I find that the license plate doesn't slow down that new Trans Am's Corvette engine at all.

Last year, I put Dook on a school bus for the first time and it surprised me that I had tears in my eyes. This year, Ryan got on the bus but the emotion that went with it was no suprise to me. Next year, Megan, the last of my little ones, will get on the bus; unless I find someone to make me more babies real quick, I'm going to find myself home alone.

I am not looking forward to putting my Meggie on that bus. Macaulay Culkin couldn't begin to imagine the kind of trouble a man my age, wonderfully immature and gifted with a marvelous imagination, can get into "Home Alone!"

Last Thanksgiving, like every year, I prepared an elaborate dinner for my kids - I made everything on the table from the Blackberry Wine to the Butter Almond Ice Cream. I did it again this year too.

It isn't all fun though. Fever, Vomit, diarrhea, wet sheets - I've handled it, and I'll go on handling it. I do a dozen loads of laundry every week and I've handled lots of mops and brooms, yet I find that I am as competent a marksman as I ever was, proficient with pretty much anything that shoots and I can still fire a 12 gauge with one hand.

My point is, my wrists have not gone even a little bit "limp" from the housework.

Yours won't either!



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