SA Jones won the Attitude category in the Mamamia Women's Network and HarperCollins Publishers inaugural Writers' Competition. Chosen from more than 800 entrants, here is her first submitted story.
Part 1: JJ and the Tradies by SA Jones.
Last week my fella and I faced a (very small) pickle. I was due to be a panelist on the radio the next day and my husband (JJ) wanted to listen in. Our radio died a year ago and we never replaced it. Past attempts to stream the radio via the computer had not been successful.
JJ wandered to the kitchen window and looked out at the beams and cladding that were slowly being assembled into our new patio by tradesmen.
‘Maybe I could ask the tradies to tune into the interview’.
‘Not sure they’re radio national kinda guys’ I said, over the frenetic doof-doof.
‘I’ll offer them home-made muffins to sweeten the deal’.
We looked at each other. Then we fell about laughing. There are moments rendered unique by the fact that they could not have occurred at any other historical juncture. This was one such moment. In our backyard were three tradies, tanned and stripped to the waist, doing proverbially blokey things like hammering and, ahem, erecting.
In our kitchen was my JJ, stay-at-home dad and gourmand, bartering his fresh - baked muffins for a temporary change in radio station.
We were riding the zeitgeist of contemporary masculinity. JJ is one of a growing number of men who identify as stay-at-home dads. Their numbers doubled in the 2000s, and around 3% of Australian families now have a male primary caregiver. As a proportion of the population, this is hardly significant. But that being a primary carer is even an option for men is a cultural and social change of seismic proportions. What’s more, it has happened in just one generation.
My father is a mechanic. He was a devoted and supportive father to my sister and I. Yet he freely admits that the traditional gendered division of labour was not only something he didn’t question, he would have flatly refused to be the primary carer had he been asked.