Monday, January 3, 2011

I am legend.


I am RH+’s husband (Mr. Positive?) and a stay at home father. Recently I’m a hot topic. Yes, I heard tings (said in my best De Niro voice). Here’s a bit more about myself…

  • I don’t mind being called “the wife” or “Mr. Mom” or “Daddy Daycare” or when someone says “Oh look, daddy’s day out. Giving mom a break today, eh?”
  • I cannot find a stay at home dad’s group in my city with google. Thus, I have no social interactions. And no prospects.
  • This life chose me; I didn’t choose it.
  • Circumstances left me with no job, so I’m just watching the kids for a while.
  • I wear mandals. All the time.

  • I can’t make small talk at parties because “I’m a full time dad” is a conversation killer.
  • Surfing the internet all day keeps me busy most of the time. The rest of my time goes to Wii.
  • I don’t cook well and can't operate the simple machinery stored in the laundry room.
  • I’m a failure in the corporate world.
  • I can’t look at your MIM website without secretly wishing there was some MIB tie in.

  • My right thumb tingles a bit.
  • It’s all bon bons and soap operas…and NASCAR.
  • Sometimes I feel like I’m shirking my role as financial provider and that my role as homemaker is less significant.
  • Grocery shopping is challenging enough, adding small children to the mix makes every outing an adventure.
  • I don’t like sports.
  • I’m homeschooling my kids, or should be.
  • I am the post modern trophy wife.
  • I’m an introvert. Or an extrovert.
  • My wife wears the pants, but sitting around in my underwear all day isn’t so bad. Someone bring me the remote. Stat!
Hey, stereotypes exist for a reason, but that doesn’t make them right about individuals. Only one of the above statements is true about me and the guys I hang with. (I’ve got a tingly thumb…don’t ask why.) Most of the list are outright lies, some are exaggerations, a few are truly myths, and still others are simply artifacts of times past waiting on society to finally bury them (if the last hundred years have taught us that men and women are equals, then so be it). One thing is certain: a new beast has entered into the public mythology—into our shared societal consciousness—a new superstition entering the unassailable fortress of forever. I am a stay at home dad. I am legend.
So that’s the screw-you-part where I say all your stereotypes are bogus. Oh, and the last line is from the book (which turns, big shock, out to be not much like the Will Smith movie), starting with “a new superstition.” I didn’t make that crap up, just the crap before it. The real-me-part is that although I was raised in daycare and turned out justfinethanks, I always envisioned having my wife raising my kids. Marrying in our early 20’s, we waited 8 years into our marriage before the time felt right to have our first, so we were already on our second house and somewhat financially stable (as opposed to my own parents who were married in their teens and constantly argued about the little money they had). With RH+ in residency making the same salary as me, and with potential to make “doctor money” in a few years, it seemed like staying home fit me best. I tried it and liked it. We had to tighten our belt a bit, with the exception of upgrading to a DVR with the cable company (commercials can bite me). Otherwise, the high cost of daycare and gasoline, plus a favorable mortgage refinance equated to literally ¾ of my salary. RH+ picked up 2 moonlighting shifts per month (affectionately known as “sleeping for dollars” except for the one time she was everyone's hero, but she can tell the rest of that story…). Anyway that stuff plus our conservative lifestyle enabled us to go down to one salary with minimal pain. It was worth it. Totally.
I’m now part of a dad’s group, so I can share some perspectives from other fathers as well. I highly advise prospective full time dads to google yourcity + “at home dad” (use quotes) or check Meetup.com to find a group. It’s cool to talk sports, politics, diapers, and watch the moms groups wince when we arrive at the park only to often complement us as we leave the park. Dads who made a conscious decision to stay home and parent are much happier than those who lost their job and are watching the kids while looking for another job. This is no different than a guy unhappily working at the burger joint while looking for employment in his career of choice. Dads I know who actually took a significant net pay cut to make the deliberate choice they thought was best for their family are happier for it.
I can’t say being an at home dad is for everyone. I do know that everyone should try to have a career that they love. I love being a full time dad and find it to be an easy gig most of the time. This is also no different than a guy thriving in a career that he loves.
As a full time father, I know my son better than anyone. Sending him to kindergarten last year was really tough because his life story now had experiences that I was not a part of, chapters that I did not help write. Now that we have our second son, my decision to stay at home is reaffirmed as the correct one. He’s just started to toddle. Watching him try to mimic big brother at 14 months old is hilarious, its awesome, its frightening, and totally confirms exactly what I’ve always said: better raise your first kid right so he’ll do a good job with the rest. Here’s hoping that I did. And if I did not, well I have only myself to blame.

19 comments:

  1. When I thought it was true you wore mandals all the time, I was SO jealous! :P

    Since I'm the person who got uptight when someone told me to have my husband stay at home, I feel like I should respond:

    I think what you said about doing what you want to do is right on the mark. I actually knew a few guys in college who were open to the idea of being a SAHD (some even aspiring to it). My husband has never wanted that and he'd absolutely hate it, which I know for a fact because he did it part time for a bit and hated it. He hates the idea of it as much as the women on this blog probably would hate the idea of being SAHMs. So I got a little pissy when one woman started insisting this was the best option.

    I do think that *in general*, far less men want to make the choice to stay at home than women. Although I wouldn't want to stay home, I think I'd be more satisfied staying home than my husband would be. I'm actually beginning to suspect men and women are not entirely interchangeable :)

    Also, I think that MiM logo you made should go on the website, partially because I've been thinking the same thing for the last two years.

    ReplyDelete
  2. That is so awesome, Mr. Rh+. Thank you for sharing. My husband was indeed "forced" into staying home, and I'm sure that's a lot of why he had trouble with it. I have a friend who is an attorney and her husband is a full time stay-at-home dad, and he is an AMAZING dad, as I'm sure you are. Kudos to you!!

    ReplyDelete
  3. I think my husband is aspiring to stay home once the "doctor bucks" start rolling in.

    ReplyDelete
  4. I know quite a few full or part-time stay at home dads. We have a private joke among the ones married to doctors which is they are on the "Freedom 35" plan (ie, retirement around 35 when the good salary kicks in). Others call themselves the "Lucky Bastard Club". I think both of these reflect how pleased they are with the arrangement.

    It seems to me that it is personalities, not gender, that determine what works best in your family.

    ReplyDelete
  5. My husband jokes that he's holding on to his job just long enough for me to start making dr money, and then he'll be able to quit and have the good life.

    I'm not holding my breath about the quitting part.

    Still, I want you to know that you kick ass. A lot of it.

    ReplyDelete
  6. RH+ is so lucky! You made me laugh and get a little teary on my lunch break (but the hospital wi-fi is slower than molasses so I couldn't comment until I got home).

    I love the "Lucky Bastard Club." I'm going to find myself a lucky bastard next.

    Fabulous post. There are so many of the same stereotypes about SAHM's and SAHD's. I hear what the some of the guys say at work, and it pisses me off. Especially in residency when one guy was not-so-quiet about how he viewed my upcoming maternity leave as "vacation." The guys that talk like this are usually the laziest on the job, I find. Any guy that chooses to stay home and support his wife and kids (and do it well) is anything but lazy.

    Hmmm. Tingly thumb. Maybe you are suppressing an unconscious urge to grow things?

    ReplyDelete
  7. That was a great post, and very helpful. Thanks for sharing your perspective!

    I'm selling my husband the "Freedom 35" plan, although part of me suspects that this was his plan all along when I started medical school. ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. Apparently my SO and I are not alone on our radical leftist planet.

    As I mentioned during the earlier discussion, my SO would certainly consider being a SAHD if the decision were right for the family, for many of the reasons you cited.

    ReplyDelete
  9. Yes, I'm quite lucky.

    I'm pretty sure he has early carpel tunnel in his thumb (from all the video games he plays all day ;)

    Originally it was hard because his home management style was much different then how I would do it. BUT he is DOING it, not me. So I don't complain, realizing that
    he makes a much better stay at home parent then I would.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Sounds like everyone is happy with the arrangement and in the end, that is what matters most!

    ReplyDelete
  11. Being a GOOD parent is one of the hardest non-paying jobs outs there!

    When I was recouping from major surgery several months ago, my spouse had to take over for most of the things I did.

    It made my day when he said "My job is hard and stressful ( he is a cop), but there is no way in Hell I could do your job full time!" ( being a mom) "It's stressful and there is a lot of trying to remember who needs to be where, making sure they are fed, have clean clothes, have spent time with them, are getting sleep and homework done. I'm exhausted."

    It made me laugh, since his job requires hypervigilance and multi-tasking and dealing with hostile people.

    I am glad that your situation is working for you and your family .

    ReplyDelete
  12. Thanks for sharing,I was looking forward to your post.Your wife is one lucky woman.

    ReplyDelete
  13. Thanks for your perspective, never believed in stereotypes, you wouldnt have fit the mold anyway. I too am waiting for the 'doctor money' to roll in, so my husband and I can take turns being SAH parents...that would be awesome! Though I think he will make a better one :-)

    ReplyDelete
  14. A few questions for all of you who are so enthusiastic about men staying at home and having no career of their own.

    Do you also think it's "awesome" when woman stay at home?

    Do you think it's also charming when women married to male docs, wait for the doctor bucks to roll in?

    When you read of stay at home moms, do you write in to tell them that they kick ass, a lot?

    Do you consider women who are married to male docs to be members of the lucky bitches club?

    Do you tell men who are married to stay at home moms that they are lucky?

    Do you tell women who stay at home that the decision is right for their family?

    When women are criticized for not having their own career, do you say as long as everyone is happy with the arrangement, that's all that matters.

    Since you think not having a career of your own is perfectly wonderful, are you raising your daughters to think they don't need careers, they can just be stay at home wives to some lucky man?

    Could you write of why you believe feminists are wrong when they insist on the absolute necessity of having your own career and being financially independent, since you clearly don't believe that.

    Can you explain why you think women today are told
    that a career is essential, when it clearly is not, based on your comments? Thank you

    ReplyDelete
  15. Bey ~ This is what I was alluding to when I said that I didn't believe that there was any more stigma for men to stay at home than for women that stay home. To answer most of your (I'm assuming) rhetorical questions, actually, is yes. Barring all the hyperbole, I do think my stay at home mom friends are awesome and they do kick ass, and I tell them that. All of them. I think men that are married to stay at home moms *are* lucky. And, gold-digging implications aside, more power to the women who suffer through the hell that being married to a physican can sometimes bring.

    *You* are the one making this about gender. I think women and men should work out what works for them and their families. Some women wouldn't dream of giving up their careers for staying at home. The same is true for some men. True equality is attained when both genders are afforded equal opportunity to choose their desired path, and, conversely, equally sheilded from the stereoypical disdain for one lot in life over another. We're not there yet, but I think we are getting closer.

    ReplyDelete
  16. >>True equality is attained when both genders are afforded equal opportunity to choose their desired path, and, conversely, equally sheilded from the stereoypical disdain for one lot in life over another.>>

    Quite true, and very well said.

    Equality means being able to weigh all possible options and make the best decisions, together. In some relationships, these conversations still aren't possible.

    ReplyDelete
  17. I really enjoyed this post. Hats off to you! Our 10 year plan is for me to go to DNP school so that my hubby can transition away from working full time in industry (he's a medical device company engineer) and slide into teaching at a community college so that we can share parenting tasks more equally. Honestly, I suspect he'll be a better teen parent than I will be, so I think it'll work out nicely.

    ReplyDelete
  18. I am a single full time physician. I often long for a "wife" who would do my laundry, cook my meals, clean my house and do all those other house tasks I detest. During my really bad days, I ponder why in the world I didn't attach myself to some risingstar in my youth, have a couple of kids and stay home all day "being beautiful" for my man. Unfortunately, God had other plans for my life.


    But if anyone knows of single wealthy man in need of a life partner, PLEASE send him my way!

    ReplyDelete

Comments on posts older than 14 days are moderated as a spam precaution. There may be a delay between submitting your comment and its publishing. Thanks for commenting!