I am, for now, a stay-at-home mother. People sometimes ask what exactly I do during the day and I never have any idea what to say.
If you are a Stay At Home Parent who can manage to care for your children, your house, and your appearance all in an 8-hour work day, I applaud you. If that setup is truly filling your emotional cup, and making you feel great about the job you do, that is fantastic. But please, do not assume for one second that the parent who can't take on all these extra roles is somehow failing.
I love having choices. I am a believer in letting each woman do what is best for her family and staying the hell out of it.
Here are a few lessons I have learned along the way that I would pass on to any man who is going to be a stay-at-home dad, just thinking about being a stay-at-home dad, or maybe already is one but is finding himself floundering.
When he leaves in the morning, I'm in my pajamas and the kitchen's a mess. When he comes home at night, I'm in my pajamas and the kitchen's a mess. How can I explain to him that, though the pajamas are the same, the mess is a totally new, fresh mess?
Right when I was getting ready to start saying yes to things again -- activism, organizing, a paying job, even maybe a regular exercise routine -- I found myself pregnant again. And life inevitably, and perhaps wonderfully, slowed down and shrank again.
I feel like I've lost my independence along with some (most) of my self-confidence. I want to be able to take care of myself and my son. And, quite honestly, I still have some ambition left. I want a meaningful career (where I get paid in U.S. dollars).
I have spent too much time and energy making myself feel inadequate and somehow lacking, and I know too many people who are great people, who are well-loved people, who also feel inadequate and somehow lacking. And it makes me sad and angry and frustrated... and absolutely determined to find a way to stop the madness.
If we don't want throwaway answers, we can't ask throwaway questions. A caring question is a key that will unlock a room inside the person you love.
When I first enrolled into Motherhood, it never occurred to me that there'd be no curriculum description. Nor did I realize I'd be signing up for what would eventually amount to acquiring a BA, MBA, PhD and, maybe the most valued of the bunch, a BH (Badge of Honor).
Parenting, of course, isn't some sort of new and exciting job that may have mixed reactions attached to it, but from the bewildered and sometimes even frustrated reactions I receive, you might think I'm announcing that I intend to teach at Hogwarts.
Are we supposed to expect less of our "working" partner? Does going to work from 9-5 negate one's responsibilities at home? Is needing sleep exclusive to the workplace? What about raising a human?
I'm the person who uses Facebook as a world-wide picture sharing site, a 21st century baby brag book. It's me; I've "ruined" Facebook for the cool kids.
Life affords few do overs, but were I to be granted one, here is how I would have nurtured my dormant career. Here is what any parent who wants/needs to stay home with their kids can do to keep a toe in the water, without drowning.
Having three children swallows me whole. I love them fiercely, but I'm not always paying attention to them.
A powerful, experienced group of stay-at-home dads, organizing and training the next generation of fathers, gives us hope for the future. We will continue to support them every way we can, and we look forward to seeing them in Denver in 2014.