Showing posts with label SAHD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label SAHD. Show all posts

Thursday, January 13, 2011

What It Feels Like for a Guy

*Editor's note: In the spirit of partner guest posts, this post was written by the husband of dr. whoo.

I’m not sure I am worthy of the title of Stay at Home Dad. I don’t have my children all day long every day.

My role to take on more of the domestic responsibilities began in fall of 2008. There was a combination of factors for this decision, but it was largely based on improving the quality of life for our family. Our oldest child had just turned four years old and our youngest, two.

With both of us working beyond full time, we were watching our children grow up in daycare and were limited to an hour or two each evening with them during the weekdays and the weekends were spent catching up on laundry, lawn, grocery shopping and million other items on the must do list. Exhaustion discouraged healthy cooking and exercise, and we ended up eating out or ordering in most of the time. I could continue to list all the reasons, but the truth is we should have done it sooner for fewer reasons. I never thought I would have anything but a long career of continuous development, but my wife had more time and money invested in her career and she was the bread winner. Besides, I have way more patience with children, and all other non-cat related matters.

It has been two and a half years since we made that decision, and it was the best decision for our family. Quality of life for everyone has improved tremendously. Cindy Lou is in first grade now, and we decided that Bean would benefit from the social interaction and academic curriculum at he gets at preschool. I take the kids to school, I pick them up (much earlier than we used to). I cook the meals and clean the house, albeit poorly I am told (seriously, how does dust accumulate so fast?). I pay the bills, clean the pool, and mow the lawn. I also do general repairs, minor plumbing and electrical work and you should taste my stuffed tilapia with white wine lemon butter sauce. During varying times of the day and evening, I work (as needed) to run my unintentionally non-profitable small business with 6 employees. I did get to take a paycheck last January (2010) so that’s good, right?

I now get a lot more quality time….err, snuggling/wrestling/tickling time with the kids which is unbelievably great.

I periodically get a little restless, and send my resume out to test the waters, but every time I get a bite I am forced to reconsider the consequences to my family if I return to the corporate world. Without fail, my decision is swift and clear as to what is best for our family, and that is to stay home. That is to say, stay available. Available for sick children and doctors appointments and field trips and household duties and whatever else needs to be done. My wife’s job as an OB/GYN is stressful and demanding enough, and I cannot help with that or relieve those responsibilities in any way. What I can do is almost everything else, that’s the goal anyway. In reality, she contributes a lot and always has a sense of when I need her help the most.

Anyway, I am unaware of any stigma and indifferent to prejudgments or misconceptions that others may try to attach to me. This works for our family and I am very proud and grateful for this arrangement. I used to think of it as me sacrificing my career for my family, but now I see clearly. We were sacrificing our family for our careers. We’ve both made the necessary changes to end that, and we are a happier family for it.

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 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.

Sunday, July 20, 2008

My Sanity

I feel like I’m cheating to write for this site. I have a secret. Much like I used to feel a little guilty when my gynecology patients would say “I’m so glad you’re a woman because you understand how I feel.” Truth is while I do, in fact have a vagina and need pap smears, I’ve never had cramps, contractions or even *gasp* a yeast infection. I also haven’t had a period in the 2 years (thank you Mirena). Until I had a baby I felt very little connection with my patients. I tried to distract you, but alas my secret. My life’s not that crazy. My husband’s a Super hero. He’s a stay at home dad and that makes our lives sane.

We met in high school, dated in college and married before I started med school. Our dreams we’re simple. I’d be a family practitioner; he’d be a history teacher. We’d move to a ski town have 2.5 ski bunny kids and live happily ever after. Needless to say, 2 weeks into my first FP rotation and I knew that wasn’t for me (same goes for his student teaching). I went on to be an OB resident and he became computer network administrator extraordinaire. We ended up about 3 states away from Colorado. When I became pregnant with our Boy Genius during my 3rd year we ran the numbers. It just made more since for him to stay home, and he genuinely wanted to. I have to admit, to be honest, I was a little skeptical. I wasn’t sure how he would handle it, how it would affect the dynamic of our relationship or even, I hate to admit this, what people would think.

The transition went fairly smoothly. He worked until I was done with maternity leave then he accepted a new position of full time dad. He quickly realized that it wasn’t all Sci-Fi channel and bon-bons. Also he learned it’s a bad idea to take a 7 week old to see Lord of the Rings (sorry honey, I’ll never let you live that one down), but over time I grew amazed at his patience and the way he became the most amazing father I’d ever seen. It was hard at times when our son preferred him to me or when our overly picky son would only eat when he fed him. I remember being horrified in the airport when I tried to feed him and he wouldn’t eat for me. I had to have my husband do it and I felt like a fraud of a mom. I soon learned that that was just part of our arrangement.

I feel more connected to him than I ever have before. I hold him with even greater respect. To be honest after working 10 hours and delivering a million babies, when I don’t also worry about cooking, cleaning and picking up laundry, it leaves a lot more time to focus on our relationship.

When our son was about 6 months old my 2 best friends came for the weekend. They had never been huge fans of my husband. During girl talk, later in the weekend, I began to slightly complain about him. They gave me THE LOOK. “Stop it right there” they said “you’re never allowed to complain about your husband EVER AGAIN.” After seeing his super dad skills, my stay at home mom friends had changed alliances forever. Occasionally we’ll get an odd look at a party when we get introduced to new people, but at this point it bothers neither of us in the least.

He was a little lonely at first while I was a resident, but once in practice we moved (yet further away from skiing). Here he’s involved with a dad’s playgroup and has stayed well connected to society. Also he seems to get volunteered often in the neighborhood and at church, so his social schedule stays quite full. This arrangement has worked amazingly well for us.

Currently life is smooth and fairly peaceful. We are unpatiently waiting to adopt baby #2, so we’ll see how our sanity holds up when we add another to the mix.

Thanks for letting me join the club.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Mr. Mom?

It's July, and that means it is time for my annual 2 week camping trip on Labor and Delivery. Every year, my partner, OtherDoc, takes a two week July vacation, and I take a two week hiatus from sanity. I'd like to think that I'm a fairly busy physician on my own, but when I see 30 patients in a day, OtherDoc sees 60 patients in a day. While I do 10-20 deliveries in an average month, he does 30-40. Put us both together, and it is a recipe for sleepless nights, crazy days, and very little time spent at home. Last year I got so busy, it pushed me over the brink from gestational hypertension to full on preeclampsia, and my own physician had to ferret me out on labor and delivery at 9 pm to tell me to wise up and go home for bed rest. (I delivered 2 days later.)

This year has been no exception. I've delivered 8 babies since Monday evening, and have spent early morning, noon, and night with patients. Mr. Whoo has been left to defend the home front, and, in his usual superstar fashion, he has handled everything in a superb way. CindyLou, my four year old daughter, was diagnosed with strep throat this week, and Mr. Whoo was elected to stay home while I delivered another 3 children. When I got home, I was amazed. The house was clean, the laundry was done, dinner was cooking, and CindyLou was feeling much better. Now, granted, he did just have the 4 year old (I took the baby to daycare for quarantine purposes), and I'm quite certain that CindyLou spent the day plugged in to the Disney channel, but *still* it was amazing. It sparked a conversation about perhaps having Mr. Whoo stay home with the children, full time.

I consider myself more than a little...traditional, if you will. I chose to take my husband's name when we got married, and feminist issues have always been more remote on my radar. (Not that I'm *down with women* or anything, but I just don't have a bee in my bonnet about such things.) Since leaving residency, financially, I am the bread-winner, but Mr. Whoo is also a professional with a good job and great benefits. A few years ago, we would have never considered this scenario, but now it seems a viable option. We've been struggling, with both of us working, to keep above water with the household chores, cooking, shopping, laundry, and keeping the children cared for, fed, and entertained. It makes sense, financially and personally, to seriously consider this option; especially as I look for better job opportunities. I don't think we could sustain it long term, because Mr. Whoo has professional aspirations, as well. He is preparing to pursue another degree to further his career, but, for now, it seems the time may be right. I'm pretty sure that Mr. Whoo won't try to feed the baby chili for lunch, and "girl's night" at the male strip club is definitely out, but I do worry that it may hurt his male pride a bit to be the stay-at-home parent. Any advice out there from those of you that have chosen this path?