Dad as a Stay at Home Mom
After Sophie was born, Betsy was upset. She felt she wasn’t doing a great job as a mom (but she was and is!), and she felt like something was missing from her life – her career. She was used to traveling, meetings, selling, etc. All those things that you complain about when you are out in the workforce. Except now, she wasn’t able to do those things. Instead, she had to deal with a daughter who had a number of nicknames from her parents, none of them very complimentary (Sophie Spit-Up was just one of many).
My response was, of course, the wrong one. “Sure, go back to work – then I’ll stay at home with Sophie.” I didn’t mean at all that it was easy, just that I thought that one parent should stay at home with her. After all, we were lucky – we didn’t need two incomes in order to support our household. Yet, what Betsy really needed was options, and my response didn’t provide them. This was frustrating for her, and a learning experience for me.
Fast forward eighteen months. Sophie is almost two, and Maggie has just been born. Betsy’s still at home, and I’m still working at the same place I did earlier. However, this time around, I took two weeks off to help out, and since I’m an “old pro”, I actually know what I’m doing. This time, I can see what it’s really like at home. This time, I can see if I have what it takes.
My brother-in-law was the stay-at-home dad. My sister was a nurse, and he was attending school. It made sense, and he seemed to be handling it just fine. When I started tagging along with Betsy however, I entered a strange new world. A world in which men are temporary interlopers, like the UPS man or the contractor working on the house.
During the time I was at home, I was the only man around during the day. Everyone was very friendly, and glad that I stayed at home; but at the same time I was still just on a guest pass. I’m not the person that others come around asking for advice about breastfeeding, or recommendations for babysitters, or how to deal with a willful two-year old. I’m more like the goofy kid brother who can be trusted with a task that’s not too complicated. Of course, it didn’t help that everyone knew who I was, and I can’t remember a name unless it’s repeated to me about 20 times.
I think the other thing I realize is how much easier Sophie (a two year old) is versus a new baby (Maggie). People say, “Babies don’t move, they’re easy to take care of, don’t worry.” Forget it. I can’t tell what a baby needs. Did she poop, is she hungry, does she need to be held, does she hate the show I’m watching, etc etc. At least Sophie can tell me what she wants. Plus, like most guys, I have the mentality of a two year old, so she gets my jokes. At least the good ones.
So what happens now? I go back to work, Betsy stays at home (for now), and we get as much babysitting help as we can possibly afford. The kids don’t need college anyways.
I’ve been at home with my girls for over 4 years now and I still get that feeling of being the odd man out, the visitor from the strange land of testosterone.
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