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Homemaker

I became a stay-at-home dad back in 2014, when our daughter Ellie was born. I worked for a few months and then got a job as a property manager, where I could work from home and take care of our baby girl. It suits me well, but to be honest, it was an adjustment, mostly because of societal norms. Being the only guy at the park, surrounded by female nannies and moms is difficult. Watching my friends succeed at work or in their businesses can be even more trying. At first I really struggled with my role in the family as a provider, not financially (though I have always worked freelance or part-time), but in other ways. Kids need a dad who is there and available, for fun, education, trauma. An emotionally available father is a powerful and rare thing I think, not because dads don't desire it, but because it is considered odd.

I went back to work for a year to give Katie the experience I had, but could never make enough for our family to live well. Talk about a blow to your masculine ego -- not even being able to provide enough financially. I felt lost and hopeless, the most depressed I had ever been. But I think the whole thing just pushed us to a point where we realized our family works with me at home and Katie at work. Her job is also pretty flexible, as a teacher with summers off and usually getting home by 4PM (as opposed to the 6-6:30PM, when my job had put me home). We settled back into these roles and our family has thrived since then. And though I still feel weird and deal with slightly awkward situations (again being the only dad at the park or not being able to make play dates with my daughters' friends), it fits.

Matching family outfits: another "Dad" thing that isn't always easy to swallow.

Recently, however, we filled out some forms for something and I had to list an occupation. Usually I would list one of my part-time jobs, but with our recent move, I am currently unemployed. Then I saw it down the list: "Homemaker." Essentially that is what I am, but something about it felt weird. Am I a Homemaker? I thought, as the pen wavered in my hand. It's true, that is probably the best way to describe it, but "Stay-at-home Dad" feels way more cool than "Homemaker." Something about that title just has a feminine connotation to it that doesn't sit well with me. It's all cultural I suppose, but I have to ask myself why that bothers me.

As I reflect on it, I think the reason is because "making the home" is an end in itself, and there are lots of other things I want to do for my "career." I also make music and write while raising my kids. Homemaker + Creative would make me feel better, but why is that even important to include? Is it a pride thing? A label I need to support my identity? What is wrong if the chief goal of my life is to create a stable house and a healthy family?

Homemaker responsibilities...

I ended up putting Homemaker on the form, laughing it off as I pointed it out to my wife. A few years ago, I would not have been so easy-going about it, but again, as we have gone down this journey of stay-at-home daddom, I know this is where I am supposed to be. I write all of this, not only to process it myself, but to hopefully give another struggling dad some encouragement. What you do is not who you are, and probably not the most important thing in your life. Who you influence is a far-greater thing to be concerned with, and though jobs are indeed important and add a lot to our identity and purpose, never neglect those for whom you do the job, as well as those with whom you do it. These are the relationships that make this life, and the next, worth living.

Comments

  1. Great post Rick! From what we saw here in Charleston SC with you and the fam, I think you were doing a great job with being a Stay at Home Dad, or 'Homemaker'. I think one of the hardest things about being a homemaker is people don't see all the amazing and selfless things you are doing every day, but your kids get a front row seat on all that you do for them every day.

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    1. I appreciate that Mike! You're a good dad too. I can tell you care.

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