Thoughts on being a stay-at-home parent, from the dad

I’m back at work and very happy to be there. Do I miss my baby? Of course! I’m not a monster. If I lived in one of those fancy places like Canada or Bulgaria that lets you get paid while being at home with your baby, I would be at home with my baby. But since I don’t,  I work. Luckily, working makes me a happier and healthier person. Therefore, it stands to reason, it makes me a happier and healthier mom and wife. I’m lucky that work is flexible and understanding and so I feel like I can be a good worker and see my baby. And, plus, I’m over what you think about me. 

Anyway, I found this in some files that I wrote last year when Nat was looking for a job on the subject. I think it encapsulates an interesting perspective on the stay-at-home debate. 

Here’s a little background on my current family situation: My husband Nat quit his job as a print designer and has spent the last three months at a Coding Academy to learn coding and website design. The hope is having these skills will make him more desirable in the job market. Maybe he’ll find a job closer to home without such a long commute. Maybe he’ll find something with better pay and more flexibility. Maybe he’ll find something that will let him grow as an employee and a person.[Editor’s note: He did! It worked out!]

Or maybe we were stupid and he’ll never find work and he’ll have to become a stay at home Dad, something he really doesn’t want. And then he’ll forever hate me for even suggesting we take this leap in the first place.

How do I know he doesn’t want to be a stay at home Dad, despite the fact he’s definitely the better parent (this isn’t me using hyperbole. Nat is really good at dealing with things smaller than he is. I’m good at staring at my phone)? Because he said so.  Here is a not-so-dramatic recap of our conversation:

Me: While you’re looking for work, do you want us to pull Sam out of daycare?

Nat: No, not really. Maybe for a day or two, but not full time.

Me: Why not?

Nat: [Shrugs] I’m not really sure what I would do with him all day.

Me: Okay, that make sense.

Scene!

It was just a normal conversation. But it wasn’t until later that it suddenly dawned on me that it was kind of an earth-shattering exchange.  I mean, why isn’t he torn to bits about the struggle between staying at home or putting Sam in daycare? Why isn’t everyone questioning his decision to not stay home with Sam like they did mine? Why isn’t he getting shade? And, most importantly, why doesn’t he have any internal strife which will compel him to write a 2,000 word think piece for The Atlantic? 

Because he’s a man. And we don’t judge men for wanting to work.

I think one of the most interesting parts about being a new mom is how everything thinks that just because I have a vagina, it means I must  be a preschool teacher. But just because I have a vagina doesn’t mean I know anything about how to actually teach children. Crazy, I know.

Look, I would like to think I’m an okay mother. I pay attention to my kids. I work on their manners. Comfort them when they fall. Cook them healthy food. Guide them how not to be an asshole. But I don’t really know how to teach them how to read. Or write. Or how to get along with other people (kids and adults).  All the great things that day care teaches our children. It’s a blessing I get to send them there.

Plus, as Nat says, I honestly have no idea what I would do with them all day.

 

 

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