The words still ring in my ear: “But who’s going to take care of the kids now that Kristin’s working?”
The gentleman speaking them is well-meaning but frankly, his words are like nails down a chalkboard. Now that she’s working? I think to myself. As if she hadn’t spent the previous 15 years working as a stay-at-home mom! She was doing the most important job in the world.
I say nothing. Just a half grin. I’m trying to keep a general poker face on but I’m pretty sure I’m failing miserably. More words pierce my mind! Who’s going to take care of the kids? What am I, incompetent to parent my children? I seethe silently. “Well, I’m going to be staying home now that Kristin is working outside of the home,” I reply, with a strong emphasis.
I shouldn’t be offended. After all, there are still so many misconceptions about what it means to work inside the home, how stay-at-home moms do have a job, and the reality that more dads than ever before are becoming stay-at-home parents. I shouldn’t be, but I am. Especially when I field the assumption that I can’t do the same job that my wife has done for years. It’s as offensive as saying that she couldn’t go out into the marketplace to work because she’s just been a stay-at-home mom all these years. Give us both some credit.
And while you’re busy giving us both some credit for our ability to switch roles and do it successfully, understand one big, big thing …
This stay-at-home dad thing? It’s not changing anytime soon. Not because it can’t, but because … I love it. And frankly, I think I’m pretty darn good at it, if I do say so myself. I’m still learning and still adjusting, but goodness gracious, I’m happy working inside my home. I wasn’t forced to do this … I chose to do this. No sooner had I done so, I knew the assumptions and demeaning comments would come. Again, not that they’re intentional, just clueless.
“Oh, are you like babysitting your kids?” one person asks me as I walk into our school’s administrative offices to register my son for first grade. Babysitting? “Um, no, I’m being a parent,” I reply.
“That’s so precious that you know how to match them,” another woman says in the grocery store checkout line, as if I lack the simple (yes, simple) ability to dress my sons in the same T-shirts. Good thing she didn’t notice that my youngest son was wearing mismatched socks and two different shoes. I surely would have been crucified, or degraded, for that.
I can do this job. More importantly, I am doing this job. I learned from the best. My wife is a master momma. Even as she leaves to work outside of the home, she’s completely dialed into our family. That’s a feat that I was not always able to accomplish when I worked outside of our home. She has set me up for success in more ways than I can count. Her example has led me to love this job more than anything. That’s a big reason why it’s not changing anytime soon.
The misconceptions have to change. There are more of us stay-at-home dads than ever before. It’s not that we chose the easier lifestyle, as some may assume. This is not easy — it’s work. Please don’t think that or say that, whatever you do. It may be difficult, but I am fully capable of doing it just like my wife is fully capable of working outside of the home. She’s now working her dream job, and I must say, I just might be working mine. Visit me a few years ago and I may not have told you the same thing. I would have discredited myself from ever being a stay-at-home dad. I would have doubted my ability and considered my ADD personality not suitable to take care of my children.
Sometimes the very thing you thought you could never do is the very thing you are called to do. This couldn’t be more true for me when it comes to my new role as a stay-at-home parent.
So, before you look at my family and discredit either of us for the jobs we are doing, understand that we are happy, and so are our children. There’s nothing more important than that.