A few years ago, Lebron James sat down with reporter Jim Gray for an hour long interview known as “The Decision” in which James told the world that he was going to be taking his talents from Cleveland to South Beach. This was to be the first time the internet “broke”. In 2015, I myself attempted to break the internet by announcing my own earth-shattering decision, that I was going to be a Stay-At-Home Dad. Of course, unbeknownst to me, I had to actually go on the internet and tell people this if I really wanted to break the internet. I didn’t. I’m still not even sure how many of my friends know that this is what I do now. For like reals!
The decision to be a Stay-At-Home Dad is not easy. For one, in our society it has long been assumed that if anyone is going to stay at home and care for the kids, it is going to be Mom. I mean, stereotypes, am I right? And maybe in the rest of this country that works. But here in California where everything costs about six times what it should anywhere else, some things just don’t work out the way you expect. Secondly, if someone was staying home that meant someone isn’t working, which means not making money. We would be living off a single income, and again, in California that is not the natural order to things. Lastly, what would people think? A man staying home with the kids? “How would you do that?” “How COULD you do that?” “Won’t you get bored?” “Oh you’ll be back to work in a few months.” “I don’t think I could do that, I’d go crazy.” There are a multitude of questions and comments that come about when a man proclaims that he is going to be a Stay-At-Home Dad. Reading through the internet you find the dumbest, most ignorant comments from people who don’t agree with a man staying home. My favorite was something along the lines of “I couldn’t respect a man if he stayed home with the kids. I wouldn’t be able to look at him the same.” First off, well good because I wouldn’t want you as the mother of my kid because you sound like a terrible bitch. And secondly, I just say “I was a freaking sniper in the Army Special Forces, I am pretty sure I don’t need to worry about your respect.” But this is just one example of the negative stereotypes that go along with the idea of a man staying home with his kids as opposed to the mother.
Let’s be realistic: the economy drives just about every decision we ever make. And 13$ an hour for child care pretty much drove the decision that I was going to be the one to stay at home. With that being the going rate for child care where we live, and its even higher if you want GOOD child care, it was obvious that something had to give. Since the wife has the MBA and the tech job and I was doing intern work at the Capitol and making peanuts doing lobbying work, it was clear who was drawing the short straw. This guy. This had been a reality we were looking at long before when we lived in the Bay Area. Sending a kid to child care is a tough decision, because you have to really trust who you are sending them to. They will be raising your kid 40 hours a week, if not more. In the Bay we saw what the cost would be if we were to have a kid there, and had already mentally prepared for the reality that we just could not afford to send a child there. I realized that if someone was going to be staying at home, the most rationale choice would be me. Don’t get me wrong, if I could make it so that my wife could stay home with Olivia I would do it in a heartbeat. She loves that little girl so much and I would love to be able to give her the opportunity to be home all day long with her. But it just isn’t practical, and that is what a lot of people just don’t understand about many of the dad’s who end up staying home. It is all about making a rationale, practical choice.
And this is really what it all boils down to when deciding on raising your kids: making a rationale, practical choice that works for all parties involved. People don’t necessarily understand why everyone else makes the choices they make. Men are typically hesitant to do anything that is viewed as unmanly or uncommon for a man to act or behave. We are suppose to be the ones who have the stable job, make the most money in order to support the family. You know, the breadwinner thing. I suppose there is some merit to that. But I didn’t grow up like that so it’s not really ingrained in me. I grew up with a single mother who did everything for us. So those traditional ideas of who is suppose to stay home and who is suppose to make the money never really stuck with me. My theory is, whoever has the best potential for earning power should be the one working. If you can both work, great. If you can both stay home, awesome. If not, then logically, you make the decision that works best for your situation. And for my wife and I, me staying home was that. It had nothing to do with laziness or not wanting to work or just screwing off or anything like that. It was a choice that we made together realizing that it trumped all the other alternatives and we went with it. So far, it has proven to be the right choice and one I would make every single time out of a hundred.
Everybody is different. Each family has their own set of circumstances. I wouldn’t expect many people to fully understand why I became the Stay-At-Home Dad because they aren’t in my house with my wife and I every single night. Just like I don’t know fully why the neighbors both work while their girls are at school. I don’t dig into their finances. I don’t know their whole situation. And I think it is a little presumptuous of people to just assume the negative when they find out a dad is staying home. If there is one thing I would want to get across is that, for whatever reason, men are more and more frequently deciding to stay home with their children. They have reasons for it. They are their reasons. Don’t judge them for it because quite frankly, it’s not really anybody else’s business. Plus you never know when one of them is an SF Sniper who keeps a spotting scope in his window and knows exactly how far it is down the street!