As a former Wall Street trader, I found myself completely unprepared for my new role as a “Mr. Mom.” After the 2008 credit crisis decimated my trading gig, my wife went back to work full-time. The primary responsibility for everything household fell squarely on my narrow shoulders. My new routine involved cooking, cleaning, laundry, helping with homework, grocery shopping, arranging ‘play dates,’ organizing activities, etc.
I had been one of those dads who left for work at 6am, got home by 7pm (on a good night), and never fully comprehended what happened around the house while I was gone. On the weekends, I would go to my kids’ soccer and softball games, busy myself with some outdoor chores, and then call it a day around 4pm. I was off to the couch to watch TV while all the ‘other’ household stuff somehow got done.
Now, it was role-reversal time…
I became a Stay-At-Home-Dad, or SAHD for short. I felt the acronym was appropriate for the way I felt (note: dad caregivers have lost the ‘s,’ so now it’s just AHD – At-Home Dad – much better). At the time, I felt like a bum, a chauffeur, a really bad short-order cook, and a janitor. I would add tutor, but I had to google Pythagorean Theorem and sentence conjugation because I had forgotten that stuff long ago.
After surfing many at-home dad websites/blogs (and at least as many mommy blog sites), it seems to me that the majority are written by really enthusiastic dads (and moms) who chose their current occupation.
These sites seem to fall into one of two categories:
In the first category, at-home dads have very young kids (ranging in age from two months to two years-old). So, these are new parents, and the novelty has not yet worn thin. I saw posts with pictures of two-year olds wearing sailor outfits and lederhosen (I know!), detailed entries about baking projects “gone wrong,” and a wide range of observations on potty training.
The second category of sites are run by the veteran AHD’s. There are lots of guys who are proud of their at-home status. And, there are a lot of pissed off dads, too. They often take offense to the moniker of “Mr. Mom,” an admittedly negative stereotype shaped by our societal norms. I don’t blame them. I get the looks all the time from friends, family, and (yikes) the cleaning people…
These at-home dads really hate when other at-home dads goof on themselves and mention how they now admire the many competent moms out there who make the job look easy. I don’t totally get where the angry at-home dads (SaHDs) are coming from, because there’s a need for humor, self-effacing and anectdotal, when talking about a responsibility done by women for ages while men took the remote…
In most societies, the role of caregiver or “home-maker” has traditionally been the mother. The father is, for the most part, out of the picture (to varying degrees) and making the money. No doubt, there is a stigma attached to being a at-home dad in our culture. After all, who wants to be the only guy at the play date or dog park?
There is a third category, however; the reluctant at-home dad. I’m going to use the acronym “R-AHD” to refer to this category. AHD will be reserved for the veteran dads and the new dads voluntarily taking on the role.
We are at pivotal period in corporate America, and Wall Street in particular, where middle-aged men increasingly find themselves in the role of the R-AHD. I would like to believe this segment of R-AHD’s take themselves a bit less seriously.
This site attempts to explore the multi-faceted experiences and challenges of being the caregiver under duress; a victim of circumstance and necessity. R-AHD’s are not to be pitied, but to be understood and appreciated for their unique contribution to child-raising.
This situation may just be a temporary journey. A career pit-stop or a bump in the road. However, R-AHD’s don’t know when this journey will come to an end. During this time, R-AHD’s are living with financial angst and job search frustrations in addition to the day-to-day routine involved in child-raising and household ‘management.’
So, it’s time to roll up the sleeves, figure out how the washing machine works, and perfect your laundry folding skills. You are going to need all the help you can get…