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Let’s hear it for the stay-at-home dads

I often forget that we are not the typical U.S. family. Only about 20% of American households with children have a stay-at-home parent anymore, and only a small percentage of these families feature a stay-at-home dad. What’s more, I am a female entrepreneur with a small business

I’ve been happily running full time for over five years.

If feels incredibly normal to us because it’s the life we life day-in and day-out, but sometimes I am reminded by a client or a colleague that it’s not as typical as it feels.

“Oh … and he just stays at home?”

Uh, yeah. Men can raise kids, too, you know.

It’s not like he’s eating bonbons and binge-watching Netflix. (But if he did, I would cheer him on because he DESERVES IT.) He is chasing after our toddler 10-plus hours every single day. Even as I’m writing this, it’s not quiet upstairs. He is running around after Reggie (our robot vacuum) and yelling out what direction he is turning. “Now he’s going left! Now he’s going right!”

If we’re being super honest, my husband does a better job as a full-time caregiver than I would ever be able to. With my business, I revel in being overloaded and having too many deadlines to juggle. I don’t always keep all those balls in the air, but I sure do try my darndest.

In personal relationships? I am real lazy. Without a doubt, I know that working as a stay-at-home mom would translate to too much TV, garbage food 95% of the time and any excuse to go for a drive. Friends, if I’m in charge of her meal situation, I am microwaving a quesadilla and giving her frozen peas. I do this currently. I literally did it yesterday. Can you imagine if I was in charge most of the time? #nutritionalnightmare

I know that this is a Mommy Blog, and I am technically the mommy. Even so, Kevin does such a huge part (the most important part) of raising our girl that I wanted to share his perspective on what it’s like to be a stay-at-home dad. Here is an unedited interview with my partner, Kevin.

So, tell me, what’s it like to be a stay-at-home dad?

Kevin: It’s still weird to me, but I can’t imagine not spending every day with Coraline. I love watching her grow and develop into a curious, happy little person. I’m very tired, but I have faith that it’s going to be completely worth it.

Do you feel like people look at you differently because of your job title?

Kevin: Maybe. I haven’t really had a chance to interact with too many people because of COVID, so I don’t have a good sample size. I did get some good feedback from a mom at the park when she found out I was a stay-at-home dad. She was wildly in favor.

Do you ever feel like you’re missing out on life because you’re a stay-at-home dad?

Kevin: Oh God no! I feel like I packed in a ton of life in my past life, and I was starting to really feel a sense of pointlessness to the grind — more money – rinse — repeat cycle. This is the most purpose I’ve felt in my life. Absolutely more than the commute, the money, the “prestige” or even the view out of an airline flight deck. Raising Coraline is absolutely the most important part of my life. I relish this time with her.

What are some things you wish your partner would do to be more helpful?

Kevin: I have an amazing partner. She is almost always available for Coraline when she needs mommy time. She works very hard for our family, and her commitment to understanding my needs is obvious. Other than the occasional tendency towards populating the house with roached coffee cups, I have no top-of-mind complaints.

KEVIN, I need dirt. I need scandal. I need sad/difficult emotions. Where are they? Tell me what’s hard about being a stay-at-home dad.

Kevin: I frequently wonder if it’s worth it – if I should let a professional at UGRO or KinderCare do their thing and I do mine. I am sad she is growing up so fast and this magical time will be over so soon. I am sad that I don’t have the energy for more children or the desire to experience a stroke-like migraine again from my partner. I hurt. It’s really hard on your body to pick these little scamps up and down all the time. I haven’t had time off — like a whole entire day — since she was born. These things are downsides, sure, but again, I just know how quickly this time will be over. It was also hard at first to adjust to not bringing in any income.

Can you explain your feelings further on that?

Kevin: Well, I’ve always been the higher earner in our relationship, and I’ve always worked since I was 18, so it was an adjustment to not be bringing in any income. There are societal stigmas and pressures that you can tell yourself you don’t care about, but when you actually do something against the societal norm a little bit, you can end up feeling those negative feelings anyway. I did. I don’t really feel bad now because I realized the value of my work more as time went on, but it took a while to get there.

Anything else you would like to say to the internet about your experience as a stay-at-home parent?

Being a stay-at-home parent is difficult and easy. It’s more rewarding than I could have imagined, more heartbreaking at times, too. Your compensation isn’t in money but in legacy and connection to something greater and more important than you. It’s sometimes very boring, sometimes very exciting and challenging. It’s always changing. The job requirements slowly, insidiously or miraculously change as your child grows. I never properly appreciated it all until I was in it. I’m very, very happy with my experience so far.

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