“What’s that?” I respond.
I look at the clock. It’s 5:21 in the morning and my son is standing next to me in the dark, looking like a tiny Dementor, telling me he’s hungry. I look to my left and my wife isn’t there. She’s in my daughter’s room sleeping on the floor again. ‘Just 5 more minutes’ I think to myself, but I know that isn’t happening.
“Alright buddy…let’s get you something to eat.” To be a parent means having a healthy addiction to coffee’ I think.
I’m a stay-at-home Dad (SAHD) and a full-time coffee addict. I cook. I clean. I do laundry. I teach my children how to say “please” and “thank-you” and what it means to be kind and how to treat others. I know all the local playgrounds and the free museum days. I do playdates, naps, bath time, and bedtime. When my wife gets home from work we can enjoy family time without having to worry about a constantly expanding list of things to do. I’m a SAHD, not simply someone who is giving Mom a break or someone who is “babysitting” their children.
But this isn’t how others see me at times. At the park, I’m seen as a Dad who is giving Mom a break. Taking the kids out of the house so that Mom can have a (much needed) break from parenting. At Target I’m the Dad who is getting the shopping done so that Mom doesn’t have to. I have other examples, but you get the idea. And this is my reality; being viewed as simply helping Mom with the endless number of tasks related to running a household; groceries, laundry, cooking, cleaning, bedtime, etc.
And I get it. My role isn’t traditional and Moms are still seen as the primary caregivers and household managers. But it’s a brave new world and “the times they are a-changin’.”
I am a SAHD by choice and taking care of my children and the house is what works for my family and increasingly others (I am one of two SAHDs on my block). I’m not resentful of how others may see me or how my ability to care for children is constantly questioned. Even the occasional “aww…you’re taking care of your children?” response doesn’t really bother me anymore. Well, sometimes it does, but I try to set a good example for my children so when this happens I simply flip the other parent the bird when no one is looking (just kidding).
When I completed my undergraduate and MBA degrees, being a SAHD wasn’t even on my radar. But life has a way of slapping you in the face more frequently than a toddler sneezing directly into your open mouth. And that slap came in the form of two unhappy parents who knew something had to change if they were to cultivate a house full of love and laughter. And so I became a stay-at-home Dad as it best fit our family’s needs. It wasn’t an easy decision, but for us, it was the right one.
Now, several months on, I’m mighty proud of this identity. I love being a SAHD as not many parents get the opportunity to spend so much time with their children, even if they don’t listen for the millionth time. I love caring for my children when they scrape their knee, when they need a cuddle or when a monster is under their bed. They are only little once and I want to soak in every minute (just maybe not at 5:21 in the morning). I know my title may not be the norm and that Moms deserve every bit of praise and respect, but please don’t forget about Dad.