This is a thank-you note. Bear with me, now — I have a lot to say.
Thank you for choosing to be a stay-at-home Dad.
Thank you for choosing to spend your days taking care of our child. Thank you for getting up with him in the middle of the night to feed him when he’s hungry and rock him when he’s scared. Thank you for buying him his own set of plastic letters when he was 9 months old because it’s never too early to learn how to love reading. Thank you for making him laugh his baby laugh harder than anyone else can. Thank you for showing him what it looks like for a man to be nurturing and kind. Thank you for being the only man at the playground and at the library storytime. Thank you for putting his well-being and happiness at the center of every decision you make.
Also, thank you for shrugging it off when you walk into the hardware store and the blue-vested greeter says winkingly, “got stuck babysitting today, eh?” Thank you for staying cool when you’re watching TV and an announcer tells you that “Choosy Moms Choose Jif” or an ad knowingly nods at how Dad is hopelessly bad at laundry or making the kids’ dinner or doing the dishes. Thank you for letting it go when we applied for a home loan and told the loan officer that you were a stay-at-home dad and she put you down as “unemployed.”
The thing is, though, I’m mad on your behalf. I’m mad that you have to navigate this minefield and that our son has to hear it too. I’m mad that these comments and messages trivialize your role and your ability as a parent. I’m mad that they judge you for staying home, and by implication judge me for going to work.
Seriously. Families come in all shapes and sizes. Some families have one parent, some two, and some even more than that. Moms and Dads have lots of different kinds of jobs, and they set all kinds of important examples for their kids. In our family, my son has an ambitious, professional Mama, and a brilliant, funny, clever, kind, moral, and nurturing Daddy.
It’s 2016 and our family is far from alone in making a decision to have you be a stay at home dad. We’re not that unusual anymore. Check out this article from Pew Research. Or this collection from the Huffington Post. Or this one from the New York Times. And here’s a whole website dedicated to resources for stay-at-home Dads. Trust me, you might feel like the only man at the playground, but you’re not alone — stay-at-home Daddies are everywhere.
So I’m clearly the angry one in this scenario. I don’t know how you’re doing it, but I’m pretty impressed with your calm equanimity and your utter imperviousness to the slings and arrows of stay-at-home Dadhood. I could learn a lot from your grace under pressure. I’ll work on that, I promise.
But in the meantime, I want you to know how incredibly proud I am of you, how fortunate I am to have you for my husband, and how profoundly grateful I am that our son gets to have you for his Daddy.
Eva Murphy works in Operations for a large publishing company. When her baby is sleeping, she loves to read, sew, craft, cook and play with her husband, dog, and cat. She loves blogs — two of her other favorites are The Artichoke (about food and education) and Handy in KS (DIY). She is honored to contribute to Parenting Now!