I am about to say something that many men, fathers or otherwise, probably wouldn’t admit: Being a stay-at-home dad has always been a dream of mine. Well, at least since my kids came a long.
Before then I was like most other guys, I was career driven and had big aspirations to move to the top levels of journalism, maybe be a big-shot columnist at a huge metro newspaper or ascend to the top of the editorial ranks somewhere.Change in Plans
Then my wife got into medical school and my career took a backseat. I didn’t mind at all. I was perfectly content with putting her dreams, which at the time were much more challenging than mine, up front. A few years later we had our first son, and suddenly my career was even less important.
The first signs of wanting to be a stay-at-home pop popped up in my head. I got a taste early. I worked nights as a newspaper copy editor and watched my son during the day while my wife as at school. Then my wife’s dreams led to us moving again for her residency.
Right away I wanted to change my part-time job at home with my son to a full-time gig. Unfortunately, at the time finances wouldn’t allow that. So I got the first 9-to-5 job in my life, again straying a bit from my career path, so that I could see my wife some during her 80-hour-a-week residency schedule and still have time with my kid. Again, I was content.Gas on the Fire
About a year later we had another son. When he was 4 months old we put him in day care. That killed me a little, as I am sure it does most parents. My other son didn’t need full-time child care until he was nearly 2. To have an infant in day care, although necessary, seemed wrong.
Then came the next big issue – the cost of that care. With one kid being looked after during the day we were fine financially. With two, especially one being an infant, it pretty much ate up my paycheck.
The whole time I longed to spend the day with the kids. I hated having to get them up earlier than they needed so that I could get to work on time. Instead of being stuck in a cubical, I wanted to be stuck at the park or a library or a swimming pool watching my boys grow. I loathed the thought of someone else getting to experience their milestones.
And I let people know it. This dream was not a secret.Taking the Plunge
After just a few months of my second son being in day care, the resulting finances were getting to the point where it seemed to make sense to give my staying at home a try. It has been the best career move I ever made.
Friends, family and former co-workers have been supportive, and sometimes jealous. If anyone thinks it’s an odd choice, I haven’t heard too much yet. (Well, outside the few comments from men I’ve received at the grocery store.) Although I do need to remind some that it isn’t like I am staying at home watching sports all day.
Money surely will get tight at points, and some day I may venture back outside the home to work. Even through poop accidents and naptime struggles for supremacy, this is where I belong. And I love that I have realized a dream. One that many men might not mind. Even if they wouldn’t admit it.