Written by Nathan Bright
My wife and I have been married five years. We were both career-oriented individuals on a good track. In the year 2006 we had life figured out; I received my master’s, my wife had just gotten her foot in the door in an unusually high position at a local community college, we purchased a first home, got a dog, and I turned 30. I also got a job at a Community Center as the Director of Marketing and Recreational Programming.
Things chugged along smoothly. We also planned on “not trying” to prevent a baby from coming. Lo and behold the stick said “pregnant” at the end of December. We were ecstatic. Our daughter entered the world in August 2007. That’s when we discovered what life was all about (figuratively and literally). My wife took a full 12 weeks maternity leave and I took 2 of vacation. At the end of October our little girl was finally ready for daycare.
To sum it up – it sucked. We woke early, bustled without paying attention to much else outside the routine, said goodbye to our 3 month old for 10 hours, picked her up in the dark, bustled for a cruddy meal, bath, bed, nighttime waking, do it again. Weekends were spent trying to catch up. Little one-on-one time with baby and zero for each other. It only took two months to realize we couldn’t function as a real family. My wife and I were hardly talking (not because of anger, but just lack of time) and our daughter felt our radiating stress. We inhaled unhealthy meals and did nothing for ourselves.
I made the realization on my own to stay home. My wife’s paycheck was higher than mine, plus my current pay scale had a definite ceiling. We crunched numbers till we were blue and finally decided to go for it. We saw we’d go in debt a little each month – up to about $700 for the entire year – just to make bare ends meet. In the end we decide that the sanity and health it would provide for our daughter would be well worth the money. We factored in gas for me to drive to work, daycare, and all the incidentals such as Xmas gifts for my staff, meals eaten out, etc. Operation “Career Killer” was given a green light. I’ve been at home for two years now.
People we initially told all had the same response; “Oh really, wow, that’s so great for you guys,” while their faces said “That’s weird”. While introducing me to someone, I once caught my dad saying I worked from home. Women, particularly older, would have the most empathy. Although it sounded weird to them they appreciated the toughness of the task I had before me and realized the sacrifice and value it added to our family. The value is enormous. I try not to judge others, but it’s tough not to. I see so many other couples who have a paper family (my interpretation of those who are technically in a family but don’t come close to the dynamic complexity involved – this, I feel, can only be accomplished only by spending sheer time with each other).
My wife and I have no problem with being pigeon-holed into “roles”. She works long days for the money. I do house stuff. I feel that if she’s out working hard she should come home to little to no home stresses. As such, I clean, cook, pay bills, maintain house & yard, and everything else associated with home. When she comes home we all have a sit-down healthy meal and enjoy each other’s company.
I’m a catch, I know. For dramatic effect I should say I rub her feet till she falls asleep but that’d be a fib.
Nathan Bright is a 30-something stay-at-home dad who resides near St. Louis, MO. He is a husband to an amazing woman and father to a doubly amazing 2 year old little girl. His blessed home is scheduled to be even more blessed in March, as Nathan and his wife will welcome a second daughter to their family. When Nathan is not blogging for OurMilkMoney.com’s The Daddy’s Den, Nathan writes and illustrates his own children’s books. Available for purchase immediately is Maddi Patti and her Stay-at-Home-Daddy.