Judging from a lot of online discussions that I have read, it appears that there is still a novelty effect when it comes to dads staying home and being the primary caregiver for the kid(s) and taking care of the house. At the same time, I am seeing more Stay-At-Home-Dads (like myself) becoming more of a presence online.
I've been a SAHD for just over a year now and I have learned a lot about the role, but mostly, I've learned alot about myself. Before choosing to be a SAHD last year, I never really gave the topic any thought. Since then, I think about being a SAHD everyday.
The greatest challenges I encounter are internal. I'm talking about the unexpected feelings and thoughts that pop up in certain situations when I'm interacting with my daughter. It's learning that I'm not exactly who I thought I was that has given me the biggest "WOW" moments.
Overall, this opportunity to be so actively involved in my daughter's life has been great! I think about the fact that I get to actively, intentionally, purposefully guide my daughter on a day-to-day basis and I'm grateful. At the same time, I pray that I am demonstrating some qualities that positively impact her character development.
Now, I find myself thinking about my childhood often, especially the interaction I had with my dad, who was a SAHD before the acronym and all this hooplah. My opinions regarding SAHDs is heavily influenced by my experiences with my dad. My choice to stay at home was pretty easy because my dad was a model for me in this role. But it is the power of my dad's presence that makes me say that this is what I must do for my daughter.
I have to back up a bit, because the man I call my dad is really my uncle. I don't know my biological father. I met him once, but even the memory of that meeting is fuzzy - almost like I imagined it. But my uncle, I'll never forget him mainly because of his presence in my life. That's the number-one thing I think of when I think of my dad - He was present. He wasn't just "there" in a passive sense, he was actively "here" in my teenage life. He established and maintained his presence at home, at my schools and on the streets.
I don't know all the details about my dad becoming a SAHD. I just remember that he hurt his back severely on his job around the time I was in middle school. What I remember most is that whenever I came home, my dad was there. As soon as I walked in, I felt his presence.
His music and the sound of him walking around grabbed my attention as soon as I opened the door. He was ususally in the kitchen cooking dinner by the time I got home from school. It was nothing for him to be cleaning, doing laundry, cooking or vacuuming. It was never an odd picture for me see this rather intimidating, mean-looking, Vietnam veteran whistling or singing while doing chores when I came home.
Knowing that my dad was home had a greater impact on me when I got to high school. I never saw him at school, but all of my teachers would mention meeting him at the school at various times. He established his presence at my school so well that even my classmates would tell me when they saw him. My dad kept me out of so much trouble simply by establishing his presence with the people I saw daily in various places.
I find myself establishing my presence with my daughter much like my dad did with me. Although things are very different for my daughter than they were for me, I still want her to feel my presence and know that I am "here" with her. I remember how much I was impacted by my dad simply being "here" and establishing his presence.
As a boy growing up in Southeast, Washington, DC, at the time the crack cocaine epidemic hit the streets, there was no greater anti-drug, anti-gang or anti-pregnancy campaign than my dad. (Forget "Just say no", it was "Just say 'William'" for me.) At a time when young Black males were being labeled as an "endangered species" in DC, my dad made the SAHD role look easy and he is a huge part of my being who I am today.
I read alot about the details of the SAHD role - cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc., but the bigger picture should not be forgotten. Actually, the bigger picture needs to be stressed as much as the chores. Generations will be impacted by the example we (dads and Moms) set. But there is nothing special about the SAHD role. We just choose to think of the role in a special way. My dad (uncle) was just being a dad, the best way he knew how. He simply did what he thought was necessary at the time.
My family is so glad that he did.
What are your opinions of the SAHD? Leave a comment below.