I’m settling into Stay/Work-At-Home-Dad life; for someone who bitched as long and as loudly as I did about hating my profession, working in an office, dealing with incompetent bosses, it’s been eye-opening, and at at times not in the “Dorothy steps out of her house into beautiful Technicolor Oz” way.
Eight more hours of kids a day is a wonderful and draining thing; I’m finding that I go to bed exhausted every night, and I’m pretty sure that the various ailments (flu, bronchitis, migraines) that I’ve suffered since my last day “at work” are at least partially psychosomatic.
Right about now every fulltime mom and SAHD reading this is saying “dude, welcome to Reality”.
Lest you think I’m bitching, I’m absolutely not. I wouldn’t trade this for the world; along with getting to make up lost time with my adorable little Padawan, I get to pursue my dream of being a fulltime writer (which is actually coming along quite nicely). It’s the greatest thing in the world, being an SAHD. There are challenges, and in preparing for my new life, I did a little poking around the Internets, read a bunch of stuff, and discovered a couple of things. One, I’m extremely lucky to be able to do this (I kinda knew that already). Two, the idea that this is something that every dad can – and even should – do is absurd. The Stay-At-Home-Dad Revolution will not be televised. If it is, it’ll be on your local public access show, during the 2:00 AM hour.
It’s no surprise that there are not a lot of good resources for SAHD’s out there (suggestions, BTW, are welcome). The Internet’s a vast desert for traditional working dads; for those of us who are at home fulltime (I won’t say “working”, because NEWS FLASH taking care of kids IS work), the Internet might as well be Arrakis. One of the better know SAHD bloggers is Brian Reid; over at Rebel Dad. There’s also AtHomeDad.org; not a whole lot of original content, but there’s a forum section and a section linking other related SAHD blogs and articles.
Aaaaaaaand that was about it. And you know what? I don’t think that’s a bad thing.
Let’s go back to “I’m extremely lucky to be able to do this”. In my former life, I spent 10 years as a recruiter. That gives me a perspective on working, jobs, careers, all that good stuff. The fact is that most dads will never be able to work from home. This has absolutely nothing to do with Evil Employers who refuse to let fathers work out of the house because they adhere to some 1950’s mentality about how a company should work. Rather, it’s due to the fact that most dads don’t do work that CAN be done from the home. We are a workforce comprised mainly of Builders and Providers; if you’re in the small minority of highly educated upper middle class white collar folks who never have to talk to anyone face-to-face, congrats – and I say this without snark, as I was one of you. This isn’t snobbery, this is reality; cops, firemen, salesmen, retail employees and managers, construction workers, drivers, pilots, auto workers, custodians, technicians, mechanics, librarians, sailors, soldiers, teachers, doctors, lawyers…the list goes on and on. So I say it again: I’m extremely lucky.
This is not to say that there aren’t flaws in the business world; part of my job as a recruiter was watching corporate trends, and even in a bad job market, companies that are providing things like flex hours and jobsharing, who truly provide work-life balance for moms AND dads, will always get (and keep) the best employees. But the cold hard fact is this: most of us have to go to work. Life ain’t cheap. And while I may not be one of these people, there are many dads who like their day jobs. That they do, and that they want to have a career, and that said job/career requires them to be away from the kids for 8 or more hours a day – it doesn’t make them a lesser parent. I say this because there’s a certain zealotry among a faction of the SAHD Movement, a sense of entitlement and even superiority that’s completely at odds with the way the world really works. It’s ironic that I never thought about this stuff when I actually had to go to an office, but I’m much more empathetic to the issues that working parents – I fucking hate that term, by the way, because again, parenting IS WORK – deal with now that my own work situation has changed. And I find that I’m much less empathetic to the protestations of those SAHD’s who believe that their situation is the best for all dads, and that dads who can’t or won’t stay at home are by default not as good a father as a Stay-At-Home-Dad.
My point, and I do have one, is simply this: I’m now on the other side of the working parent fence, and while I will be getting used to this life, I don’t feel that I’m somehow going to be a better parent simply because I’m spending more time at home.