It isn’t babysitting

When I hear women say, “My husband is babysitting the kids tonight,” I cringe. When she watches the kids do you think it is referred to in such a way? It’s called fatherhood.

And yet, when a dad is home with the kids either for a night/weekend out or on a regular basis as the primary caregiver people are shocked.

It is 2013, right?

Photo by Bluebird Photography

Photo by Bluebird Photography

I don’t like words like Mr. Mom, babysitter or manny. Isn’t dad enough? When the mom is home with the kids she doesn’t get any different title than mom. So why would a dad?

My husband has been a stay at home dad for the majority of Miles’ two years. I was home for the first eight weeks of his life and then Michael, also a journalist, was home with him from until he was about nine-months-old. And again, my husband has been home with our son from about 20-months-old and continues to do that.

I think those titles can be seen as minimizing to the work that my husband is doing and even to my choice to work.

When people ask, “Is it fun being a babysitter?” or “Does Abbey enjoy the break?” I think it implies that I’m not doing my job as a woman because I’ve chosen to continue to work and be a mom. It is as if I’m not fulfilling the expectations of being a woman because I’m not home with Miles.

I have plenty of self-imposed guilt of not being home with my son everyday that I certainly don’t need to feel the guilty eye of others.

But I don’t think dads feel that same guilt. Yes, Michael loves the individual time he gets with Miles and is great with him. Yet, I don’t think when he does go back to working fulltime that he will sit at work and stress about not spending enough time with Miles. He won’t fret that Miles will not realize how much Michael loves him because he isn’t home with him.

When I come home each night I like to get a rundown of the day – how many times did Miles go potty? How many accidents? Were there any tantrums? Which books did he read? Did he eat a good lunch? How was naptime?

m and m2

When Michael returns home after being away he doesn’t pepper me with questions. And I don’t think most working dads do either. I’m fairly certain working dads don’t feel like they should or need to know all the minor details of their child’s lives. I feel like there’s an obligation for me to know these things.

Instead, I think Michael, like many stay-at-home-dads, feels he should be doing something else – working outside the home. It seems as if society has expectations – both parents work and if for some reason a parent stays at home it would most certainly be the woman.

I know better; I know that things don’t always work that way. But those cultural norms and expectations are a hard thing to get rid of. It seems almost biological that I should be the one staying home with Miles, not Michael.

Any other stay-at-home-dads out there? How about working moms whose husbands are home with the kids? Do you feel these same societal issues? How do you deal with them?

 

2 thoughts on “It isn’t babysitting

  1. My husband is a disabled veteran who has been a stay-at-home dad to our two children (one is 6 and one is almost a year old) for almost 4 years now. It is the best thing that ever happened to us! We don’t have to pay for child care and I don’t have to worry about who is watching them while I am working full-time. Sure, there are times when he wishes he was working, but he wouldn’t trade these times with our infant daughter for anything since he spent the first 15 months of our son’s life in Iraq. I truly believe everything happens for a reason. When people joke about him ‘babysitting’ all day, I just like to remind them how much we save on child care and how well taken care of our children are!

  2. “Yet, I don’t think when he does go back to working fulltime that he will sit at work and stress about not spending enough time with Miles. He won’t fret that Miles will not realize how much Michael loves him because he isn’t home with him.”

    —————————————————–

    Yes, I will.

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