It’s May of 2006. I’m gainfully employed, my wife has a great job with a global corporation, we have two great kids (ages 4 & 1), and life is good. And they all lived happily, ever after. Well, sort of.
There was something missing. Both of us worked the 9-5 workday. We were paying family members to care for our kids at our house. Wait…what? Paying someone to care for our kids? Why? So we can go on great vacations once or twice a year? Maybe. So we both feel like we’re productive citizens in our society? Possibly. Because society says that adults should be gainfully employed to have any self-worth? A little bit. We want someone else to be a primary care-giver to OUR kids? Stop.
Why did we have kids in the first place? It’s the natural order of life of course. But it’s also natural to be the ones to raise your kids. My wife and I decided that we wanted to fully embrace our role as parents. We were already very involved in our kids’ lives. We enrolled them in classes on the weekends and some in the evenings after work. We did most everything with them. We were just very into our kids. We loved being parents. That wasn’t enough. We looked at our finances and agreed that my wife’s salary was strong enough to keep our lifestyle (not lavish by any stretch of the imagination) essentially the same and that I would stay home with the kids. We weren’t even aware that it was a title (SAHD). We just knew that we wanted to do the best we knew how for our kids. Sure we might need to cut back on luxury things or big vacations. We wouldn’t be buying a new car anytime soon. We were ok with that.
So I did it. I gave 2 weeks notice and left my job. I traded business casual for T-shirts with spit-up stains. Granted, I already had those T-shirts with stains, but now I wore them all day. They were my uniform, my badges of honor. I now had 24/7 responsibility of what my kids ate, played, watched, and encountered. And I loved it.
I didn’t know any other dad doing this, though there are thousands doing it across the country. All of my friends and male relatives with kids played the traditional role of father. How would they accept my new role? I guess I didn’t think much about that. I didn’t think much about how society viewed my new role. I really had no idea what the biases were toward Dads that stayed home with their kids. What I did know, is that I wanted the very best for my kids. And for me and my wife, that meant one of us being with them at home.
Having a title never impressed me. That is, until I became a parent. It’s the most important and impressive title I’ll ever have. And I’ll have it until the day that I die. No one can take it away. I can’t be demoted or have the title removed. Whether I’m good at it or terrible, I will always have “parent” as my title. So I’d better not screw it up, right? But, of course, we all have our victories and defeats. We just try to have more victories than not and learn from our defeats.
Fast forward to today, 2014. We have added to our family. We now have 4 children: 2 girls (ages 12 & 5) and 2 boys (ages 9 & 3). Are my wife and I perfect? No. Are our kids perfect? Yes…. I mean no. But we’re doing it the way we want to do it. We’re not worrying about what society says the right way to do it is. We’re not concerned with others’ perceptions of our lifestyle. We know our kids. Our kids know us. We have quality time. We have quantity time. Our kids know that we are always there for them.
So, back to the question. Why am I a Stay-At-Home-Dad? The answer: I want to do the absolute best for my kids. That’s why we had them in the first place.