“It’s not working!”
This is one of Thalia’s favorite phrases, equally applied to a toy missing a battery as to a shard of Granny Smith apple peel she can’t shake loose from sticky fingers.
So I hear her voice uttering those three words when I assess the admirable attempt at stay-at-home-daddom in our household over the past two years: It’s not working.
I have been remiss about writing about stay-at-home dad stuff for the past year or so, if you haven’t noticed. I even received some very nice letters from dad readers asking me to write more about it, please. My fault for using a SAHD tag on technorati. Mea culpa.
My reluctance drew from the fact that I knew our situation wouldn’t last forever. Too many issues. Like me wanting to work from home whenever possible, which drives Nate batshit. Or the reality that this just isn’t his lifelong dream. So I avoided the topic here, feeling unqualified to be any kind of poster child for working moms with dads at home (Despite this post, which I still stand by incidentally). Also, I think Dutch and Wood have beaten us to a bloody, shriveled pulp of a bloody, shriveled pulp in that arena. And Wood photographs way better than I do as far as posters go.
I have come to realize that a SAHD is not a SAHM with a penis.
There are myriad factors to support this theory, that warrant an entire essay unto themselves. I’m still too tired to attempt it, sorry. Let’s just say there are societal pressures and challenges that go well beyond that which SAH moms will ever feel. Perhaps the moms encounter an angry second wave feminist or two, insinuating you’re personally bringing down an entire revolution what with your atrophying brain and all-day nibbling of bonbons. But the dads who choose to stay at home, they have to address that raised eyebrow, that “Ohhhhhhhh?” every time they state their profession. To anyone. Anywhere. Even in fancy, progressive NYC.
Besides, checking off Homemaker on surveys and censuses and bank account applications is not real easy for the menfolk.
Homemaker With Tattoos would be a small improvement.
Consider that this is a society in which it’s perfectly acceptable to open cocktail party banter with, “So, what do you do?” It’s a very rare and very confident father who can answer “I take care of my kids” without either puffing out his chest and looking like a defensive wanker, or cracking a joke at his own expense to preempt awkward follow-up questions.
And so, as of this week, Nate will have a different answer to the question.
He will be back in the restaurant business until he finds the path he believes he was meant to be on. Because frankly, the path can get a little hard to see when your days are filled with peanut butter sandwiches cut into triangles and “Vamanos, Dora!” and making horsie sounds to a 2/4 beat in a Music Together class.
(And don’t we all know it.)
I think the child care options we have are going to pan out while I continue to work. But boy, there are some big changes ahead. Big scary changes. And potentially, big wonderful changes. For our kids. For our relationship.
Nate is an astonishly devoted father. This much has never been questioned. Now he’ll just be that devoted father with a second job.
A second job. Because all parents have jobs.
And we’re all full-time parents, no matter how we spend our days.
Just to add: Thank you all so so much for the great advice and concern regarding recent posts. Vague as I was, I realize a lot of you have it tougher than I do. I’m still tired and reserve the right to whine about it, but I’m grateful for both a little sympathy and a whole lot of perspective.