The Life and Times of Us - A Stay at Home Dad and a Working Mama
I am a Mother. I am also a Spanish teacher, working full time. I say to people ‘but it’s ok because my husband is at home’ as if to relieve my guilt and be judged a little less harshly. Little whispers of ‘BAD MUM’ ‘NEGLECTFUL’ and ‘SELFISH’ swirl in my head when I have the conversation with colleagues.
Later I think to myself ‘why should I feel guilty?’ I know I shouldn’t… The boys are at home with their Daddy, a wonderful parent to them, but yet I feel this overwhelming weight of conscience.
‘Why shouldn’t I be the parent out in the world of work?’ (Let me make it clear that Mr H has a very successful job renovating houses, which he juggles with the child care; when they sleep, he paints) Surely it should be celebrated that I am advancing in my career, successful and enjoying my job in addition to being present in my children’s lives.
I have had comments made to me like ‘at least the house will be clean and the dinner will be on the table when you get home…’ which really grates me. That image grates me. This archaic stereotype of what it is like to be a stay at home wifey, imposed on my husband who, like me when I’m at home alone with the boys struggles to even go to the toilet during the day, let alone do an Aggie and Kim on the house and knock up some food! When I get home, we’re a team again. We tidy, we cook, we wrestle those little scoundrels to sleep… and then we relax together.
It works for us. We are happy… But why do others not get it? It is undeniable that for many, their first reaction to hearing that Chris is a stay at home dad is of surprise. Like with my colleagues, we jump in with reasons, justifications; ‘well I prefer teaching to what Chris was doing so it made sense that he took a step back…’ etc etc. The fact that he already has an ‘unconventional’ aka ‘not 9-5 pencil pushing’ job is difficult enough for some to grasp without the SAHD label on top. We have had grief from people close to us saying ‘why can’t you go out and get a job in Burger King or something to earn some money?’ Needless to say we are no longer close!
Why is it not ok? Why don’t people understand? This is the modern world people! Or is it? Have attitudes changed really? Or are people aware of what they SHOULD think in society but still harbour these old ideals. The thing is… If I was the one that stayed at home and he worked, there would be NO issue, NO guilt, NO explanations, let alone having a successful business venture on the side! Surely this Daddy should be hailed as an example of what should be the norm? I know that he has spoken to other Dads about this who have also shared similar experiences in attitudes towards them. There is reluctance to ‘get involved’ in groups, activities, social events for fear of being isolated. Now at this point, it’s important to say that this is not the opinion shared by everyone, and I do know that attitudes are shifting, with our generation pretty much being on board. There is support, encouragement and inspiration over at The Dad Network too, which my husband has found really helpful.
What are your thoughts on this? I would love to hear about it! This is really me opening up the conversation. I can’t imagine that it is just us experiencing this… well, I know it’s not. Please get in touch… sharing is caring after all and we are all on this parenting roller coaster together!