“Oh you’ll be back.” That is what the district manager told me when I put in my two weeks’ notice. I was a manager at a restaurant prior to our first son being born. My wife and I realized that the cost of daycare would eat up all of my income, and I was working on average eighty hours a week. I was excited about taking this new path in my life and about wearing the moniker “Mr. Mom.”
When I became a stay at home father, the trend was new. We didn’t have Facebook or other ways to connect electronically so I tried to find social outlets locally. I visited a group of at home moms, and they were all curious about a man venturing out into what is traditionally a woman’s job. The discussions were about episodes of Oprah and recipes. I remember one of the ladies asking me if I had already discovered chocolate. I didn’t stay with the group long.
Determined to set out on my own, I found my way literally though on the job training. I once took an application from an older lady at the restaurant that listed her prior experience as chauffeur, chef, doctor, and the list went on. When I asked her about all of her various jobs, she told me that she had been a stay at home mom. I remember at the time not taking her too seriously. I know differently now.
My male friends all say that they would trade places with me in a heartbeat. Some say that as soon as the kids go to school, they would be hitting the golf course, fishing, hunting, and doing other things that men typically enjoy. I guess that they don’t realize that my days are full. I am a scout leader, I am chief cook and bottle washer, I try to get all of the yard work done prior to the weekend and tidy the house as best as I can so it looks good when my wife comes home. It can take a lot to make a home run, and much of it goes unnoticed if it is done well.
One of the things that really gets to me is to hear a stay at home parent answer, “I’m just a mom (or dad)” when they are asked what they do for a living. I have fallen into the same trap too. Because we are not paid for our time, we devalue what we do. I hesitate to ask others to volunteer or to call parents at the office because I know that they are working outside of the home. It is important for us that work inside the home to realize that what we do is important too. It can affect a man’s psyche to have his wife be the breadwinner of the family. It is in our nature to be the provider. One study found that a man’s risk of heart disease is 82 percent higher for stay at home fathers verses men who work outside of the home. That study suggested that the cause may be due to underlying stresses or perhaps from bucking the social norms.
In the end, my contribution to society and the legacy that I leave will be my two sons. To raise them to be good citizens, strong men, and great fathers will be my reward. Whether we are building a tree house together, canoeing the Flint, or erecting an outhouse, there are memories to be made and lessons to be learned. I love the young men that our sons are becoming, and I am incredibly fortunate to be a part of that. The hand that rocks the cradle shapes our nation’s future.
Written by Bill Waller. Mr. Waller is a author and contributor local blog, Southwest Georgia Politics. He enjoys writing, traveling, and researching history. He currently resides in Albany, Georgia.