I am a stay-at-home dad. My experience is shared by literally dozens of men across this great nation. We are bold trend-setters — even if we don’t fully qualify as a trend yet. People can say what they will about the countercultural choices we have made, but we care nothing for what other people say. We probably aren’t listening anyway. We’re too busy doing the Most Important Job In The World: waiting until our wives get home when we can crack open a beer.
And, incidentally, raising our children while we wait.
We’re not bound by old stereotypes. We don’t do things the way our moms did them or our wives would do them. Because they never bothered to tell us how, and the kind of magazines that talk about that stuff are certainly not marketed to, let alone read by, men. And we don’t talk to other guys about it, because there aren’t that many who would even know what to say.
So we’re on our own, beyond the old ways, forging a new path, making it up as we go along for no other reason than we don’t know what else to do. Does that sound like a mom to you? No, sir. Mr. Mom is dead. Say hello to…
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It may not take a rocket scientist to draw cartoons — or raise kids — but Detroit native Pat Byrnes (a.k.a. Captain Dad) erred on the side of caution by getting his Aerospace degree at the University of Notre Dame. He joined General Dynamics–Convair as the first pre-design engineer (the brainstorming guys) they had ever taken directly out of undergrad. Despite this privilege, he knew his calling was elsewhere. For a time, he honed his creative skills writing ad copy for big agencies like W. B. Doner in Detroit and J. Walter Thompson in Chicago. He scripted ads for everything from cheese to menstrual relief products, and won buckets of awards, from the Addy to the Clio. During this time, he moonlighted with experimental comedy acts, to much critical acclaim (even notoriety) in Chicago’s then crackling night club scene. He left writing ads for reading them as a voiceover actor. Between auditions, he finally found time to answer his above-mentioned calling. Cartooning. Since 1998, Pat has been a regular contributor to The New Yorker. Before dad duties slashed his working hours, he was also a staple in Reader’s Digest, Wall Street Journal and America Magazine. For three years, he created the syndicated comic strip, “Monkeyhouse.” He has won the National Cartoonists Society Award for advertising illustration, and awards for his sonnets. He also writes musicals. And he used to paint when he had the time. His gag cartoons appeared for the first time in book form in What Would Satan Do? (Harry N. Abrams, 2005), and again in Because I’m the Child Here and I Said So (Andrews-McMeel, 2006). His most recent book is Eats Shoots & Leaves — Illustrated Edition by Lynne Truss (Gotham 2008) of which he is the illustrator. More recently, he is the inventor of the Smurks; initially intended to be an iPhone app to help friends share their feelings better on their handheld devices, Smurks is now being embraced as a powerful new tool to help people with autism connect with their emotions and to help neuroscientists study the brain’s responses to nonverbal facial expressions.
Pat is married to Lisa Madigan, who, in addition to being charming and beautiful, is also the Attorney General of the State of Illinois. They live a surprisingly quiet life with their delightful daughters, Rebecca and Lucy, on the banks of the Chicago River.