Thursday, December 18, 2008

Thoughts From A Stay-at-home Dad

Let me just begin by stating that I have a new found respect for all of you stay-at-home Moms out there. It can be physically, emotionally and psychologically challenging which we husbands sometimes do not understand much less give allowances for that. Well, I am learning about all of those things and I want to share them here as an encouragement to other stay-at-home Dads.

As with a lot of men, I have grown up with the ideology of the man being the bread-winner. This message is heard loudly in Christian communities yet is communicated in other areas of society. It is just presumed that the man has his career which consists of getting up every morning, going to work till 5:00 or 6:00 while the Mom takes care of driving the bus for the family. This thinking is confirmed to me when I pick my children up from school and see all of the Moms in line there. The movie Mr. Mom comes to mind although I am not so far removed from dropping off and picking up my kids from school that I have driven the wrong way in line. I have however, been guilty of dressing John inappropriately for the weather, left him in a dirty diaper longer than should have been or squirting snot back into his face with the bulb syringe. I have learned over the years of kids that mistakes are just the nature of the game.

The mistakes, the physical demands of being at home are not a problem for me. Heck, I think my wife will admit that I can clean a house better and faster than she (thank you Mom). But the emotional and psychological games that a stay-at-home Dad goes through is difficult at times, especially when he thinks he is not serving his family in the capacity he thinks he should.

Swapping daily activity at a paying job to the daily activity of changing diapers, feeding baby, doing housework, etc can be hard on the ego and difficult to navigate for us men but I am trying to resign myself to the fact that this is where I am needed at right now to best serve my family. I have read and believe that we men are looked upon to lead our home but being leader doesn't mean just being the bread-winner for the family. By being at home, I am better able to have a meaningful, influential role in the life of my kids not to mention being able to give John a head start in life that he probably would not get anywhere else.

Don't misunderstand, I very much enjoy having John to myself all day as there is a bond that is being created between us that will serve us both well in the future. But there are days where I miss being out there doing Physical Therapy and relating with people who can actually talk back in a language I understand not to mention making money.

I often remind myself that this is not my lot in life for the rest of my life, just my lot in life for right now. To all of you stay-at-home Dad's out there - more power to you. You have an opportunity with your kids that will have lasting benefits. May our experience help us to be more sensitive to our wives/other Mom's who do this daily and have done this longer than we have.

In light of this post, a post has been set up that asks for the opinions of men and women toward SAHD. Your vote and opinion is greatly appreciated. I must say that writing this post as has writing other posts has been a good outlet for me away from John for a while.

BTW, John had recovered from the mashed potatoes Dad fed him by around 12:00. It just made for a long evening. I will be staying with the single-ingredient foods from now on.


Becca said...

I applaud the stay at home dads--my husband is one, as you know, and I know he has the hardest job, even though I go out to work every day. John will benefit tremendously from being with his daddy every day!

Anonymous said...

Jay, being a SAHP is really tough. But, I think being a SAHD is even tougher for several reasons. As you mentioned the idea of not being the "breadwinner" and "taking care of your family in the way God intended" are two very tough concepts to become accustomed to. I can tell you a thousand ways how you are in fact doing what you should be doing for your family, but I am certain you know them. I think another issue is the lack of social interaction. As you said, most SAHPs are women. Most SAHMs I know socialize with each other regularly. They have playdates and coffee and workout meetups at the gym. SAHDs aren't so prevalent that you see these kinds of weekday social gatherings. That makes SAHDs much more isolated.

My husband has been a SAHD for almost three years and I can list the many great things that has done for our children and our family. Most specifically is the incredible bond that my husband has with our children. He knows and understands their needs completely. That is not normal for most of the working dads I know. My son emmulates his dad, which includes caring for and nuturing his sister. My son loves to cook, because he sees his dad cook breakfast, lunch and dinner each day (unless I am around to give him a break). Best of all, everyday when I go to work my husband stands in our doorway with our daughter in one arm and our son in the other and they wave to me goodbye. I feel a twinge of jealousy, but never guilt. Why? Because it is a really good thing that my kids get to spend the next 8+ hours with their dad. I can't begrudge them that, nor him.


Jeanette said...

I just became a SAHM earlier this year after being a working mom for almost four years. It was truly an adjustment. There are days where I wish for some time to myself and think about my life as a Project Manager was actually easier. BUT, I have gotten so much out of being with my kids and they are thriving better than before. Sure, the budget is tighter and the pressure on my husband in these economic times is tougher, but we are glad that it worked out so that I could be at home.

BTW, I almost spit out my drink when I read about shooting the snot back into John's face from the bulb syringe! REALLY! I've done the same thing! (my poor kids)

My name is Sarah said...

This is Joyce. I am trying to get my husband to respond here since he has been the SAHD since Sarah was a baby, but he has blogging fear. Maybe tomorrow, he says. At the moment he is sleeping as he picked up three more PT practices this week and that means working all weekend, which got me to thinking. If my memory is correct, you are a PT. How do you feel about medical billing?