So much so that it actually provoked me into thinking.
Now before I get too far I’d just like to say that I don’t believe Julie would ever question her value as a mother, for to do so would be ludicrous, to say the least. I got a sense that perhaps she was simply pointing out that societies norms are sometimes insensitive to her situation, which is perfectly reasonable.
Whatever be the case, her story made me take a good look at the usual expectations that come with being a parent, most of which are based in long-standing traditions that dictate the respective roles of mothers and fathers, alike.
This, of course, led me to consider the stay-at-home-dad (SAHD) and the position that he occupies in the parental universe. With this in mind, I’d like to explain why I think SAHDs are good for promoting a happy, healthy and well-balanced family life.
While it goes without saying that both mothers and fathers love their children, a mother’s maternal instinct makes her hard-wired to always consider her children’s best interest. Maybe not always first, but it is usually one of the top five things that occupy her thoughts.
So when mom heads off to work, leaving the children behind with good old dad, she feels enormous guilt. There could be a little societal pressure in there talking, but it’s still guilt, and like it or not, guilt motivates.
This same guilt is what inspires these mom to get home and spend quality time with her kids. Also, if she has any sense of fairness, it’s her turn to share in the parental duties, which because she’s a mother, she’s more than willing to do. As a result, the kids benefit from having both mom and dad involved in their lives, with the key here being balance.
This same balance does not always exist in the traditional, working father household, where dad would come home after a long, hard day at work and understandably want some time to himself. This would entail either watching a game or going out with his buddies for a drink or two. Quality time with his kids is often reserved for the weekends, and even then it can be seen as a chore.
This is because fathers just don’t seem to feel as guilty as mothers do. Unfortunately, this lack of guilt gives some fathers license to miss important moments in their kid’s lives, like recitals or school plays or the big game where his son or daughter might hit their first home run. And unfortunately, it could even include birthdays.
Then, it’s not unheard of for the career-working-dad, in the twilight of his life, to reflect on the past and, in what has become a cliché in our society, regret the time lost with his family. Time that he can never have back, of course.
Though I’m sure it happens, you just don’t hear moms say this as often.
Which brings me back to the SAHD. Now I’m not hear to promote the idea that men should quit their jobs and stay at home with their kids. Indeed, if I tried, I’d get butt kicked.
I’m also not saying that every mother has an unflagging devotion to her kids, for there are plenty of mothers and fathers alike who can’t get rid of their kids fast enough. I know, I’m around them every day.
I am saying, however, that two-parent families benefit from the involvement of both parents, and while most moms are probably more inclined to sacrifice their free time for their kids, sometimes a dad needs a little more encouragement.
With this in mind, SAHDs go a long way to promoting that balanced ideal.
Some of you out there are probably thinking that I’m merely trying to validate my existence as a SAHD, and that is not an outrageous proposition. Men, after all, are an insecure lot, especially when we operate outside of the traditional boundaries.
It’s important to keep in mind, however, that you just never really know what’s going on in the life of a SAHD. Appearances can be deceiving. Sure, we spend a majority of our time serving our kids while being surrounded by mothers. Sure, we cruise around in the mini-van while mom jets off to work in the Porsche.
But some of us live secret lives. While you’d never know it by simply looking at us, some of us actually work part time or in the evenings. A few of us stay at home and renovate the house (real man’s work) while we watch the kids.
And some of us even go so far as to delude ourselves into thinking that we are freelance writers.
I know, I know. It’s hard to even imagine. But stranger things have happened.