It was community work day in our neighborhood today so me and some of my older kids were at the park re-staining the play structure. There was another dad there with his kids helping too. The dad chat began the same way it always does..."so what do you do?" For you dads that are not aware of this mom chat never starts this way, even if the moms have professional careers. Mom chat starts, "oh, they are so cute, how old are yours?" (secret info only acquired after being the only dad at the park in the middle of the day for months) Anyway back to the story, I answered I'm a stay at home dad, we have 9 kids. The other dads response, yeah the job market is pretty tough right now. Me, oh I'm not looking for a job, I quit my job to stay at home.
Dumbfounded stare.....followed by, well that's cool. End of conversation.
Is it really that inconceivable that a dad would be at home by choice, not because he is lazy, or to inept to get a real job? What do you think mom's out there? Is staying at home the lazy option, easier than going to work? No, they are both challenging in their own ways.
We do live in the epicenter for traditional roles, the heart of Mormon Utah. While we are practicing Mormons and are raising our children in the faith we do have many giggle moments in the pews when the talks on Sunday encourage very traditional male and female roles in the home when they talk about how a mother should stay at home and nurture the kids; the teenagers in the family point to Hot Mama and me and laugh. It's not that Hot Mama doesn't fulfill that role of the nurturing mother its just that the traditional roles of mom at home and dad at work, don't represent us. The lines of those roles are blurred.
The truth is in our community I do not know of another stay at home dad.
When Hot Mama and I were transitioning to our new roles we both went through a bit of a crisis at times as to the wisdom of our choices but it turns out that things are going really well. I feel luck that we have both had a chance to be the provider and the homemaker it gives us insights into the others challenges and concerns that we would never have had if we had not decided to do this. When she comes home from work and the kids are eating cold hot dogs in the front yard, the house is a mess and I haven't had a shower in two days, she gets it. When she comes home from work and just needs 15 minutes to decompress before switching to the mom role, I get it. This marriage has a firm foundation of thousands of dirty diapers!
I am lucky that I get to be the one home at this time, raising the kids and trying to support Hot Mama as she develops her career, she was able to do the same for me at one time. But time will go by and the kids will get older. I will go back to work outside the home and will do so feeling that I got a chance to experience something special that a lot of dads, that a lot parents, don't get. My life has been so enriched by this experience. I am glad I was able to recognize that instead of worrying that I was not living up to society's norms in plenty of time to really enjoy it.
I am a stay-at-home dad (not unemployed)