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.