A quick caveat, before you hit me with a rolled-up Ms. magazine: I don't really think stay-at-home dads are better than stay-at-home moms. That was just a ruse, to get you to click the link. Besides, everybody knows that the ideal child-raising set-up is not to have just one parent at home, but rather to be adopted by the Jolie-Pitts.
That said, if necessity dictates that one half of the couple remain at the hearth to keep the proverbial home fires burning, there are some advantages to having that person be Dad. To wit:
1. We can fix stuff.
Although there are probably dozens of women adept at re-tarring roofs and snaking drains, home repairs tend to fall under our bailiwick. If something stops working in our house, and I'm not around, here's what my wife does: she calls me in a panic. "The wireless router isn't working," she'll say, or, "The thermostat is on the fritz," or, "Help! There's a bug," and that will end her involvement with the problem. If Dad is the first responder, we can have the Internet humming, the furnace serviced, and the spider crushed before Mom even knows something's wrong.
2. We're good with heavy lifting.
A friend of mine summed up the balance of power in married life thus: "All husbands are good for is schlepping stuff." He's divorced now, but he makes a good point. Not that women can't haul stuff -- y'all do Pilates and yoga and spin class; you're strong -- but I think even Betty Friedan would concede that when it comes to lugging canvas bags laden with $200 worth of juice boxes, tomato sauce jars, kitty litter, and cases of Caffeine-Free Diet Coke, we're more genetically suited to the task.
3. Our material needs are simpler.
Stay-at-home moms have a reputation for dowdiness that is completely undeserved. You may keep your hair short, but you still get it cut, and colored, and blown out -- not to mention the obligatory mani-pedi -- with far greater frequency than the minivan gets an oil change. And just because your clothes are "comfy" doesn't mean there aren't closets full of them; my wife has more workout pants than I have articles of clothing, period. We SAHDs are simpler. A pair of jeans, a modest rotation of ironic t-shirts, a fifteen-minute trip to the barbershop every two months, and we're good to go.
4. We won't take up with the help.
Painters, exterminators, plumbers, gardeners, landscapers, pool boys, UPS guys, electricians, movers -- pretty much everyone who comes to work on the house during the day is a dude. Overworked and undersexed stay-at-home moms might be tempted by the strapping young buck with the weed whacker. Not us. Remember the bohunk who painted the Sopranos' dining room and wound up getting all flirty with Carmela? Something tells me he wouldn't have put the moves on Tony.
5. Our presence makes our kids more confident.
An important study at Harvard (Or was it Stanford? I don't remember, and I can't find it on Google, but I'm pretty sure someone posted it on Facebook a few months ago) found that having a father prominently involved with raising a child during the first two years is a big boon to said child's confidence going forward. Daughters in particular really benefit from having Daddy around. In short, the more time we spend with our little girls, the less likely they are to wind up on the sixteenth season of Teen Mom.
6. We're immune to mommy politics.
Your friend Jen is pissed at your friend Lisa because Lisa never commented on, or even "liked," the photo Jen tagged her in on Facebook, and this afternoon, both of them are coming to a play date at your house, so the contents of the diaper may hit the fan. This is the sort of thing that drives SAHMs insane. Not us dads. No one expects us to choose sides in internecine mommy battles. We're like the chaperones at a high school dance -- we stand idly by the bowl of punch (or pot of coffee, as it were) and watch the drama unfold.
7. It's in our nature.
Pop culture is full of these alpha males -- the Gordon Geckos and Don Drapers, the Donald Trumps and Jack Welches -- who get off by brokering million-dollar deals before breakfast (as the bearded douchebag in Die Hard so eloquently put it), just as the lion is generally thought of as King of the Jungle. In actuality, male lions just hang out while the females do all the hunting. Male humans have the same inclinations. We may put up a good front -- here a sexist comment, there a war cry -- but secretly, we like being househusbands. Most of us do not aspire to robber barony. Don Draper? Please. We'd rather be Kevin Federline.
8. One word: lollipops.
You're all about, "Hey, try this delicious hummus," and, "You know what would be good? This organic kiwi." We're more liberal with the yummy treats. There's a reason it's called a Sugar Daddy.
Follow Greg Olear on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@gregolear