Vivia Chen wrote an article for Time Magazine, “When Stay-at-Home Husbands are Embarrassing to Their Wives.” If it’s anything like my life, I assumed it was when these men sang along to Motown songs in the grocery store. But no! Apparently, it’s staying at home and taking care of the kids that’s embarrassing their wives. Driving this point home from the get-go, the subheading declared, “We simply haven’t evolved to the point where a househusband is considered desirable.” Ouch.
Though I’m pretty sure this doesn’t apply to my situation. You see, chicks dig me. Well, my wife does anyway. She has never shied away from telling people what I do. She brags about how great I am with the kids and hardly ever mentions how terrible I am at keeping the house clean. She’s sweet like that. She has always told anyone who thinks staying home with the kids isn’t “work” that they can go shove it. Even when that person is me, in my own moments of doubts. She has, without question, been my biggest supporter and a huge proponent of our decision. And, once I started writing about my adventures in parenting, she became my blog’s biggest fan.
Our story is our own, though it may share some similarities to others. My wife was making more money than me when I was let go from a job I hated. Before that, I was an attorney (though certainly not like the ladies in Ms. Chen’s article, making a mil a year). My wife makes a good income, but also nowhere close to those attorneys or the Wall Street women of the New York Times article. But having someone stay home with the kids was important to us and, luckily, our circumstances made the decision an easy one. Even had things been different, I think we would have ended up in the same place. With me staying at home. And her comforted by the fact that the man she loves is caring for the kids she loves.
The Rise of the Stay-at-Home Dads has been in the news for a few years now. Ms. Chen’s article was written in response to a New York Times piece. But there have been countless others online, in print, and on TV. My family and I were actually featured in one of these segments on Good Morning America two years ago.
I have never considered us that unusual, newsworthy, or warranting extra attention. Even in the last year, writing this blog, I haven’t been anywhere near the forefront of the “Stay-at-home Dad Movement.” I don’t disagree with the guys who get upset about the media portrayal of dads or about the exclusion of dads when products market just to moms, but it also doesn’t bother me all that much. I didn’t stay home to make a statement. I stayed home because it made sense for my family. My wife and I knew we wanted a parent to be the primary role model for our children and we are willing to make the sacrifices for that to happen. I’m grateful to be with my kids every day, to teach them, love them, and nurture them.
If staying at home with the kids embarrassed my wife and if it was something she couldn’t talk about with her co-workers and friends, then I would know I was failing her and not living up to my end of the marital bargain. In another time, maybe the most important part of my husbandly duties would be to bring home the bacon so my little wifey could fry it up. I don’t think anyone expects that anymore. Because it’s outdated and dumb. Marriage is a partnership – we work together to raise a happy and healthy family, and we do it with love and respect for each other.
Many families have two working parents. That makes sense for them. Like the women in the recent articles, however, my wife would not be able to work the hours her job requires if I did not stay home. We’re lucky this possibility is open to us. Lucky and thankful, but definitely not embarrassed.