It has been a very interesting almost 3 years as a stay at home dad. It hasn’t been as easy as I thought it was going to be. Matter of fact, it is one of the toughest jobs I’ve ever had. However, circumstances are dictating to me that I must find a job and it’s not really for financial reasons either. What I am about to discuss is something a few marriages have struggled with. I have even done some internet searching on the subject and lots of awful material and stories come up. This subject is going to feel a bit taboo talking about it, but this is a subject that households with dads staying at home have had to discuss all the time. The subject we are going to discuss today is… anger, jealousy, and resentment over your spouses role in the family.
Before I begin, I would like to provide you an analogy about what it is like staying home with three small children as it relates to my combat experiences. Staying at home is something you cannot explain to someone else in a way that they can ever understand unless they’ve been there. I’ve tried and tried to explain my jobs and responsibilities to others, including my spouse, in a way that they can understand. The message never really comes across in a way that others can truly understand. I get that now. It is like explaining what it is like to be in combat. You can explain all you want, but you never really know until you’ve been there. I will even go one step further, because there are parents out there that really believe they understand the stress involved when they’ve had the kids for one or two weeks at a time. That is not the same as staying home and caring for the kids for an extended period of time. Saying you understand what it is like to be at home with kids after two weeks, is like a journalist saying they know combat because they reported on it for two weeks. It is not the abrupt experience, but the constant exposure to it over long periods of time that wears on you.
I believe if you are having conversations where one or both parents have to explain how difficult their job is or how difficult it is to stay at home, you are not in a good place. I will admit that I am envious of my wife at times. She gets to leave this madhouse and do the work that she wanted to do. This envy or resentment stems from a sense of loss of my professional identity. On the other hand, she sees me having fun with the kids during the day and is a bit envious of my opportunity to stay at home with our children. She is under the societal pressure that good mothers stay at home with their kids, and I am under the societal pressure that good fathers are the breadwinners. However, we are not in a good place if I can’t understand how stressful her job is and she doesn’t understand the amount of screaming that I have to endure. I wish we both didn’t have these feelings, and after that internet search it is easy to see that we are not alone here. This is not something that is unique to us.
How does getting a job fix any of that? Simple, both parents having a job creates the perception of shared responsibilities/misery. This job I have now, staying at home with the kids, is harder than any of my previous jobs I have had in the last 26 years. For me, working a paying job will be much easier. There will be some sacrifices in the process. I have a deep passion for cycling. That will have to be relegated to a once in a while thing. I despise wasting my life in a car commuting to work, that may have to happen again. Any job I take would have to pay at least 40K a year, due to the increased expense of childcare. Childcare expenses would roughly add up to 24K a year for two kids in full time care, and one kid in a before/after school program.
What will you do? I would love to write a book, I would love to open my own bike shop, I would love to work in a position within the bicycle industry, I would love to write for a magazine, I would love to generate revenue off my blog, I would love to just stay home and ride my bike (wouldn’t we all), but some of those ideas/jobs take time and financial commitments that we do not have. I’m okay with that. There are things that you would love to do, then there are things that you need to do. We are in the need to category at this moment.
What does the future hold? I’m not sure exactly what it holds. I will spend the next three to six months looking for employment. I guess my minimum salary is 40K at this moment. That pays child care expenses and gives me gas money to get to and from work. Childcare expenses will decrease over the next 2 years. I’m not going to take a job I’ll be miserable in and I will not be afraid to apply for something that I’m passionate about. Honestly, I have the itch to work a paying job. Societal norms begin to weigh heavily on any man who has not had a paying job for some time. I’m tired of ramming my head against these societal barriers. I’m tired of wondering if I’m doing the right or wrong things when it comes to the kids, the house, and husbandly duties.
I’m signing off for now. I need to start building my resume and looking for employment. I’ll come back when I can to write what I can. This adventure we call life can move in unexpected ways. I may return to some of these posts or ideas down the road. Hell, I may not even find a decent job around here, who knows what the job market is like in my area! Take care everyone.