Monday, July 9th, 2012
“We’re home!” Jack said as we pulled into the parking lot of his daycare last Friday.
Sure, he doesn’t yet understand the difference between the words “home” and “here” yet, but what if it was a Freudian slip?
I put the pen to the paper, then used a calculator to check my less than awesome math skills. My number-crunching revealed to me that Jack is at daycare for 45 waking hours each week.
Contrast that to the 38 waking hours he’s home with Mommy and Dada.
We the parents have 7 less hours with our son each week than KinderCare. I’m letting that though settle in right now.
He’s been going to daycare for almost a year now and I’ve just never realized that paid professionals technically know our kid better than we do.
But like most parents, we don’t have a choice, financially.
On the positive side of it, we’re very aware of how confident, independent, and knowledgeable he is for his age.
It’s not up to us; he has to go to daycare.
But tomorrow I’ll get a taste of what it would be like to be a stay-at-home dad, or househusband: Jack had a fever of nearly 102 when I picked him up from KinderCare today.
However, on the car ride home and after dinner he was more hyper than ever. I don’t believe he’s actually sick.
So even if he’s perfectly healthy tomorrow, by policy of his daycare I can’t take him in. My wife has taken off more than her share of “sick days” from work on account of Jack having a fever. Now it’s my turn.
I will see what it’s like to actually take care of my own kid all day while my wife works. By today’s culture and standards, that’s hardly ironic. Yet still, I have little experience staying home with him all day when, technically, I should be out working.
The title of this reminds me of just how ridiculous it is that both of us parents have to work full-time to keep our own kid in daycare; where the daycare workers will spend more time with him than we do.
Ridiculous, yet normal.
We’re happily married but it feels like we have legal custody of our own child but with limited visitation rights.
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Friday, May 4th, 2012
My wife makes more money than I do. Not to mention, her job carries incredible insurance and benefits for our family.
While that would have been weird for my dad in the Eighties, here in the 2010′s it’s not so unusual. I recently read an article on CNN Money that spelled it out for me:
“In 2008, 26% of women living in dual-income households had annual earnings that were at least 10 percentage points higher than their spouse, up from 15% in 1997, according to the Families and Work Institute’s latest data.”
The article went on to say that daycare costs continue to increase while wages are not increasing.
So it only makes sense for those wives and mothers out there who are worth more financially than their husbands, in a household where it is is more financially suitable for one spouse to stay at home, that the dad becomes a “househusband” instead of the mom becoming a “housewife.”
How do I feel about this, as a lesser income-earning dad?
Personally, we couldn’t quite survive on just my wife’s solid income. But if we could?
Heck yeah. I wouldn’t hesitate at all to be a stay-at-home househusband. Of course, I’m under no illusion that it would be a breeze.
Stay-at-home parents are working parents; as every politician’s wife should know.
It’s just that as a modern dad, I by default am already extremely involved in raising my son on a daily basis. To me, I would view it as a career upgrade; especially psychologically.
Beyond all the formerly-ironic-but-now-cliche dad skills like being able to change my son’s diapers and feed him, I already consider myself his main disciplinarian, sleep trainer, and nutritionist; all of which are very important when caring for a toddler all day long.
And for everything else, I could figure it out. I’m proud of the fact my wife can make more money than I can. It’s cool that her employer sees what she’s financially worth; which again, is more than I am.
Most importantly, I want to spend as much time as I can with my son. He’s awesome! Why wouldn’t I?
I always want to have a close, well-communicated relationship with him. It starts now.
If this were the 1950′s, I would evidently be able to provide enough income for my family; my wife wouldn’t have to be a working wife.
I would come home each day and smoke a pipe while wearing a robe, sitting in my cozy chair, reading over the newspaper while halfway paying attention to my son.
That doesn’t even sound at all appealing to me. I’d rather it be this way, where I’m definitely an active and positively influential dad.
“Househusband” is not an insult; I say it’s an honor and a privilege. But even if I’m not fortunate enough to be one myself, being a dad in the 2010′s still rocks, like a T-Rex playing an orange electric guitar.
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Saturday, May 28th, 2011
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Hold me closer, Tony Danza.
When my wife and I moved from Nashville back to my hometown in Alabama a few weeks after our son was born in November 2010, we spent the next four months not only learning how to take care of a baby but also constantly looking for jobs. At first, we were just trying to find a job for myself.
But as the months progressed and Baby Jack’s behavior was becoming more predictable and had switched solely to formula (instead of also relying on breast milk), my wife decided to start looking for a job as well- as we were getting desperate for income. We figured if nothing else, she could get a job first, then eventually I could.
She had just got her Master’s degree in Childhood Education and had spent the past couple of years working for the glorious Vanderbilt University. It started occurring to me that my wife probably had a more impressive resume than I did. After about a week of applying for jobs, my wife was called back about a job she applied for. This particular job paid $20,000 more a year than what the average man makes in this city. If she got the job, there would be no financial need for me to work too.
We didn’t want to get our hopes up though- for anyone else who has experienced recent unemployment, you probably relate to being constantly disappointed each time a new opportunity arises. My wife was told by the potential employer that it was between her and nearly a dozen other people. Then a few days later, it was between her a few others. Eventually, it was between just my wife and one other person.
Well, for whatever unknown reason, my wife didn’t get the job. I miraculously did get a job at the very last minute, right as we had come to the reality that the best option for us was to move back to Nashville. The exact same week I was hired for my sales job at the playground equipment company I work for, I was informed I had officially been chosen as the daddy blogger for Parents.com. In other words, though I was completely willing to become “Mr. Mom” and had no problem at all with my wife making the moulah while I stayed at home with the baby, it never happened.
I never become the updated version of the 1983 Michael Keaton, overloading the washing machine with soap and having bubbles flood the laundry room. Just imagine how uber authentic The Dadabase could have been if I was a stay-at-home dad. I could have been like Tony Danza on Who’s the Boss?, wearing an apron and vacuuming the curtains. Yes, just as my wife is completely qualified and capable of being the one who goes out everyday into the work force outside the home, I could have been a stay-at-home dad. And man would I have been cool for that.
But fortunately, she and I both got what we really wanted. I get to go out and assist the sells of playgrounds to elementary schools, city parks, churches, and Jewish communities centers. And my wife gets to do all those things here on the home front which exhaust and intimidate me daily. I make a better Mr. Dad than I do a Mr. Mom. So to the Mr. Mom’s out there, you impress me. And to the stay-at-home moms out there, you obviously amaze me too.
I was this close (implying that I am making a pinching-like gesture with my thumb and pointer finger to measure a half an inch) to being Mr. Mom. But my wife didn’t get the job and I got one instead. I could have done it, but I didn’t have to. And that’s a good thing because I would rather leave the tougher job, of staying home with the baby and taking care of the house, to the professional: my wife.
Wednesday, January 5th, 2011
Something I had always been acutely aware of is that when two people have a baby, there’s a good solid 6 weeks that go by where you stop seeing them in public. But shortly after that, the couple begins to dare to make random public appearances. Like last week, we attempted to take Jack with us to buy groceries. Really, there’s no need for me to paint the details of that story; if you can imagine it, that’s what happened. Therefore, today I went alone to buy groceries. It took just as long being that I’m a guy and we, the male species, don’t have instincts to tell us things like where to find vanilla extract or even at our own house where the cutting boards go in the kitchen.
But with me still not having a job yet and with the cold winter weather, the three of us have spent a lot of time indoors. Now I know what it’s like to be a 29 year-old retired millionaire who gets to stay at home all day in his pajamas and eat cereal for lunch. Minus the million dollars and plus the need to actually make a living. So after a month of constantly looking online for jobs and applying, and taking care of Jack, and watching random documentaries instantly on Netflix through the Wii, we decided we were brave enough to take Jack to church for the first time; out of the womb.
Of course, despite giving ourselves plenty of time to get there early, Jack decided he wanted one last snack of milk right as we were heading out the door. Then we had to change his diaper. So we arrived 10 minutes late and the only place left to sit was up in the balcony. This turned out to be a pretty good location though; since we were right next to the door for the moment he would inevitably start crying. He lasted 35 minutes before we had to dart for the door with him. We were impressed.
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