Stay-at-Home Dads…

Our neighbors and good friends had a son last July. Mom just went back to work and Dad quit his job to stay with the baby for an indefinite period of time. It’s great for Zak, who now has a male companion in hardship – he would sometimes go out with the Mom, but it’s not quite the same.

So on Friday (a work day), the four boys were enjoying a sunny day on Granville Island and an oldish lady who happened to be near them said:
- So you guys are babysitting?
Zak and our neighbor probably smiled at each other, and our neighbor replied:
- No, we’re stay-at-home dads.
- You mean you’re taking care of them today?
- No, we do that everyday. We send our wives to work.

I think the lady is still adjusting to the thought. I can’t help but be really proud of them. They’re breaking new grounds. And I think they enjoy blowing everyone’s mind away. Here is another example. On their way back, they took the small ferry home. A 4-year-old was drinking some Yop from a bottle and started chatting them up.
- I love drinking my yogurt! Does he like drinking yogurt?, he asked pointing at our son.
- Well, said Zak, I don’t think he’s ever had a chance.
Our neighbor chimed in:
- Well, the yogurt I make is so liquid that I think you could probably drink it.
- Hmmm, said Zak, ours is pretty thick but the last time I made it there were chunks in it, I think it’s the starter I’m using.
- Yeah, it does that sometimes, it’s not good.

The boy’s mother was looking at them with a lot of puzzlement. So here are two men taking care of young children, quite proficiently, and seemingly enjoying it, and they are talking about making their own yogurt. Not quite what you would expect in our society. I wish I had been there to see the look on her face.

2 Responses to “Stay-at-Home Dads…”

  1. l.e. Says:

    Hopefully you would be equally proud of stay at home moms? Taking care of children full time is enjoyable? That’s not what Betty Friedan said. Since most mothers today work full time, I wonder what would you think if they instead decided to “blow some minds” and stay at home full time instead and wrote about how enjoyable it is and encouraged other mothers to forego their careers and stay home. I’d like to see the look on your face.

  2. Sophie Says:

    I am really puzzled by your comment (that’s the look you would see on my face)… As a feminist, shouldn’t you be glad that my husband is taking on a task traditionally reserved to women? And yes, of course I am proud of stay at home moms. I did it for a full year, so I know how hard it is. But yes, it can also be enjoyable. I thought so, and my husband thinks so, and I really don’t care what Betty Friedan said: I would rather enjoy life with my son than force myself to despair because that’s what feminists are supposed to do.

    That said, of course it is hard work, of course it is not always enjoyable, and I certainly don’t think that all women (or all men, for that matter) should stay at home with their children. I still think that it’s best for the child to have one parent at home, but it’s not always feasible or desirable. And really, if you don’t enjoy it at all, not even a minute in-between the laundry and the diaper changing, then obviously you shouldn’t be doing it.

    But all in all, what I thought would transpire in my post was that unfortunately, raising children is still seen as the mother’s task and dads who do it are perceived as extra-terrestrials. And I don’t think it should be like that, I think dads should not feel like outcasts or oddities when they decide to forgo their career to raise their young. Just like mother who decide to stay at home should not be made to feel guilty because they are not following in the path of their feminist predecessors. Women should always have the right to pursue a career and the resources available to help them do it if it is their choice (like daycare, which is cruelly lacking in these parts of the world). But you have to accept the fact that some women (and men) will always chose to stay home and raise their children themselves, even if they are given every opportunity to go back to work. Some people just like doing that. Some people want to take this opportunity to spend the most formative years of their childrens’ life with them. Why not let them?