When I tell people that I’m a stay-at-home dad (SAHD) who cares for two little kids, I receive a myriad of responses. Often people will comment how “progressive” I am or they’ll say something ignorant about my inability to hack it in the real world. But the response I love is, “Gosh, you’re so lucky. I’d love it if I could stay home with the kids.”
The reason I love this response is because it is fraught with misconceptions. First, people who make such a statement usually have little to no idea what is required to be an at-home parent. Contrary to the Leave It To Beaver daydreams people conjure up, taking good care of kids on a full-time basis is not easy and is not always fun. In fact, compared to all my past jobs (which included a long stint as a process server) it’s the most difficult thing I’ve ever done. For example, when you’re having a bad day at work, you can tell the boss off. You can even walk out on the job while hurling a few dozen f-bombs at the boss and all your moronic co-workers. If you value your freedom, you can’t exactly do this with kids. In addition, with most jobs, or at least most office jobs, if you fall asleep no one ends up maimed or worse, covered in poop. A good friend of mine, an at-home mom who doesn’t place a whole lot of emphasis on diplomacy, told me that when people say they’d like to stay home with their kids, she flat out tells them, “Go ahead and quit your job and you’ll be back to work in two weeks, tops.”
Now, I’m not saying being an at-home dad isn’t fun. In fact, it’s downright awesome a vast majority of the time. But like any other “job” there are good days and bad, joys and challenges. At times it invigorates me and other times it enervates me. I’m not going to lie and say my life is perfect and my kids are perfect and it’s all so perfect. Those who say such nonsense do not live in the same reality as the rest of us. Either that or they have a nanny and a boat load of happy pills. Trust me, I know such people.
The other reason I love this response is that when people utter it they act as if they have no choice in the matter. Many even say, “I’d like to stay home but I have no choice. I have to make a buck.” Fact is if you wish to stay home with your kids then you do have a choice. However, such choices usually require sacrifices that most are not willing to make. But do you have a choice? Absolutely.
If you truly wish to be an at-home parent, quit your job. Sell one of the cars. Eat at home. Fire the nanny and housekeeper. Don’t spend $2,000 a month on preschool; they use the exact same toys at the $1,000-a-year preschool. Be frugal. Be prepared to pay the bills, clean the house and write your blog during nap times. If you have more than one kid, pray you’re able to get them on the same sleep schedule and that they nap for at least five hours at a stretch. And if you want to be a SAHD, understand you will be invited to Bunko Night. Attendance is NOT a choice.