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ask me anything about: stay at home dads

I volunteered to speak at our society of women engineers regional conference this year about being a working mom with a stay at home dad husband and surprisingly, they accepted it! Which means I gotta talk about my life for an hour (or... 45 minutes + 15 for Q&A). And I must admit I'm struggling a bit to think up what's notable about my situation. I think I submitted the idea for conference shortly after I wrote this livejournal entry about our life and why we decided marc should stay home with the kids... basically just to say that's it's working out great for us. But I hope I can make that interesting to a small audience... the audience will be mostly professional women who may or may not have kids yet and may or may not be wondering if they should go single income, or maybe they'd just like tips on supporting their own already at-home spouses.

So I was wondering if anyone here had questions for marc or I about this topic? stuff that might be in the back of the mind of a normal person when they hear about a family where the mom works and the dad stays home. if it's something I can't answer, I'll consult with the man. I'll post an entry with all the answers in a week or so, it'll be fun! I think. I hope, for the good of the conference.


( 24 comments — Leave a comment )
Feb. 16th, 2014 02:57 pm (UTC)
I don't think I can think of anything to ask that you haven't talked about already, or that I don't already know the answer to, but here are some things I might think would get asked. Some of it would be more directed toward Marc but you'll be the one talking

Doesn't he feel emasculated by this, not bringing home bacon thing
Does he get weird comments when people see him with the kids, like at the park or whatever
Does he feel isolated? Like there are SAHM groups and stuff, but SAHDs?
Why did you decide to go with one parent stay at home
How did you convince him to be the one to stay home
(in other words, be prepared for the weird cultural sexism to come up)

That one entry you wrote about housework, I think you should say that.
Feb. 16th, 2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
If I were still going to SWE conferences, I know I would be attending this one. I like your subject. I hope it turns out as you wish.
Feb. 16th, 2014 03:59 pm (UTC)
Is Marc enjoying the fun double standard where a father that manages even showing up gets to be super involved parent in the eyes of the world at large? Does it affect you?
Feb. 16th, 2014 04:16 pm (UTC)
To be true, I would be more interested about Marc. Because as a woman in electrical engineering, you have been the "strange" one all your life. And I'm not sure how much it is different for you having your child at home with Marc compared to having it at a crèche (maybe you could address that?).

But I would be interested in his situation. What does it feel like to be the primary caring parent and being male, while the norm is that this is the job of the mother? How is it for him to go to these things parents do with small kids (baby swimming, the playgroud during weekdays, playdates, parent-child-gymnastics (used to be called MuKi-Turnen (mother(!)-child-gymnastics when I was a child)? Are there any problems, or does he encounter limitations? I could imagine there are places that are not prepared for males the way one of my internship places was not prepared for women, by having no female restroom except in the building where the secretary were sitting).

Something like that.
Feb. 16th, 2014 06:38 pm (UTC)
I would be interested in hearing about your bond with Josie (and to a lesser extent Olive, as she's so much younger). My husband and I both work outside the home, but as I do the primary care of our daughter (and the house) when we're home, Evangeline is much closer to me than my husband. Even during the summer, when my husband (a teacher) is home with her all day she is still closer to me, as much as we try to make it more equal. I think the preference is due to me being a bit more patient with her, or that I am primary caretaker. I wonder if Josie prefers Marc, you, or that she has no preference.

Do you find yourself taking over duties when you get home to give Marc a break (you may have addressed that in a previous post I missed?) or do you take time for yourself when you first get home to unwind, before you do other things.
Feb. 16th, 2014 08:14 pm (UTC)
I'm a little curious about why you consider yourself the primary caretaker when you're both at home! does he have other stuff to do?
Feb. 16th, 2014 08:41 pm (UTC)
I don't really know how to answer this without making poor Pat sound like a lazy asshole, which he really isn't. I will try though.

So, he's a teacher, a music teacher, so he does have lesson plans, grading, transposing and all that sort of stuff that he does after school and weekends. He also is in an ensemble to keep his playing chops and has gigs whenever he can. It's also musical season so he's pit band director and co-musical director of his school musical. (Which is kind of a wash because I am costumer for another school's musical so I do as much as he does there). He also has a lot of "projects" and gaming stuff he does for fun, so he's pretty much on the laptop in all his spare time, save an hour or two playing and cuddling with Evangeline. He also walks to and from work every day (it's down the block) so he can't really help with errands as we had to go down to one car (long story)

I work my job and my part time job (Evangeline goes with me for my costuming gig), I drop Evangeline off and pick her up from my Mother in Law's, make her breakfast and lunch, make all of us dinner when I get home. I do almost all the cooking (save a couple dinner's a month where he cooks), or picking up of meals (which happens way too often cause I have had to work late a bunch lately), the cleaning (as much as I can...the house is a mess a lot), the laundry, bathing our daughter, bedtime, waking up time, taking care of the cats, (minus the litter boxes as I'm expecting) etc. I also try to squeeze in as much play time as I can.

He cares in that he loves us and plays with us, and ya know, bills etc, but I do the majority care work. I mean he does projects on occasion, or every once in a while will tidy the living room/toy explosion, but in general it's me.

I would like to state that this is pretty much my fault, I have some issues with control and what a working mother should be able to do (this is mostly due to grandmother issues), and I don't want to "nag" so instead I just muddle through, and pray I someday get the self discipline I need to make it work.

wow, sorry that went into an emo novel that sounds all "poor me" I'm really pretty happy, just overwhelmed, in a good way?

*Note: As I submitted this comment, he started a project helping our daughter sort and organize her toys...subconscious guilt maybe? hahaha, so he does help :) I want to be fair.

Edited at 2014-02-16 08:44 pm (UTC)
Feb. 16th, 2014 09:23 pm (UTC)
I am curious about how Marc's social life is at home with the girls. So many women are home during the day and places like my church have mommy groups, etc. Has he found it hard to meet and connect with other SAHPs?

Its nosy, but I wonder about family reactions to Marc taking on the job of primary caregiver.
Feb. 17th, 2014 03:35 am (UTC)
Yes, that would be interesting.

My partner experienced some questioning by her family about giving up her job in contrast to mine (even though that's what she wanted)
Feb. 17th, 2014 04:39 am (UTC)
I am a SAHM and get some of it, but I specifically wonder about the backlash for a SAHD.
Feb. 17th, 2014 12:43 am (UTC)

I wonder if he wishes he had more SAHD friends. Do SAHD not tend to come to mom's group things because they really don't want to, or because they worry they wouldn't feel welcome.
Feb. 17th, 2014 02:35 am (UTC)
*How does Marc feel about giving up/pausing his career to care for the kids?

*How do you feel that having him be the primary caregiver impacts your dynamic with the kids? With others (for instance at preschools, etc, do they look to you first?)

*What are the unique challenges of having mom work and day stay home (for instance, you pumped so that you could provide your kids with breast milk. Are their weird issues with sometimes breastfeeding, sometimes bottle feeding? Did the kids prefer one over the other?)

*How did becoming a mother impact your coworker's impressions of you? Do you think this is different since Marc stays home than it otherwise would be? (Since caring labor is assumed to be women's, but it is also assumed to belong to the stay at home parent.)

*You actually have 2 jobs (engineering and Etsy), does that complicate things further with Marc? Does he wish you would do less with (both, either) jobs and spend more time with him and girls?

*How do you work as a team to make sure that neither of you burns out?

*Do you find it stressful being the bread winner? Does Marc find it stressful staying home?

*Do you ever wish that he was working? If so, why and how do you deal with it?

*Your discussion on how he drove stopping at 2 kids was really interesting and I would include some of those thoughts in the presentation.
Feb. 18th, 2014 12:24 am (UTC)
*Your discussion on how he drove stopping at 2 kids was really interesting and I would include some of those thoughts in the presentation

I agree.
Feb. 19th, 2014 01:13 am (UTC)
I must have missed a post somewhere where you discussed how you decided on the number of children to have. If you do have a post like that I'd love to see a link. It's a discussion my husband and I are having right now...
Feb. 19th, 2014 02:49 pm (UTC)
opened to the public, it was friends-only. It was back when I got my IUD... not many comments but now that I re-read it, kinda interesting for posterity's sake:

Feb. 19th, 2014 07:50 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the link! That post was really interesting. We're at the "we've had once child, do we want to have another?" stage of life. When did you and Marc decide that you wanted the second one (if it's not too personal).

Btw have you considered being a surrogate since you're good at being pregnant but probably won't have any more children? It's definitely quite a commitment but on the other hand you could help a couple who's having trouble conceiving, or a gay couple,or someone who wants to be a single parent by choice have a baby. Anyway, just a thought...
Feb. 19th, 2014 09:11 pm (UTC)
I'm almost 34 years old, a little old for being a surrogate am I right?

As for the second child... oh hell, I'll write another entry on that one.
Feb. 17th, 2014 03:14 am (UTC)
I'm a working mum with a SAHM partner.

Questions I'm asked (when they assume she's male):
* does he actually clean the house?
* does he cook?
* does he actually do things like the groceries, or is it still on you?
* was he not a career person?

When I say she's female they're all "oh, okay" as if that suddenly makes sense.

I've been asked if it bothers me having all the financial burden for the family on me etc.

When people who don't know I have a SAHP find out I'm a working/career mum, they're all impressed "I don't know how you balance it all" or "wow, you must be so busy".

I think there's definitely an attitude towards being a mum. Like, they discover I have small children and instantly think I'm less devoted to my career. But once they find out I have a SAH partner, they assume I'm dedicated again. I think that's an interesting perspective. As if I couldn't be dedicated if my partner was working in a busy career and the kids were in full time daycare?

On a practical note, though, I do find that I don't want it all on my partner, so I tend to do quite a bit DESPITE having a partner at home. This morning I got up, got the kids dressed, got them breakfast, entertained them so C could sleep in a bit. I find she doesn't cope as well as I do with a lack of sleep and I'd rather her be happy, energetic and in a great mood when home all day with the kids. This means I take on more. I'm also wanting to be seen to be involved and I want to participate. I tend to drop the kids to school, I make the kids cakes to take to school for their birthdays, I am joining the PTO. The mums at school would know me a lot more than they would know my partner, despite the fact that she's home full time.

Don't get me wrong, though, she does a lot - the housework, the cooking (a lot of it, not all of it), the groceries, etc. But I'm definitely involved. There's no aspect of the kids' routine I don't know. I don't know if it would be different if I was a working father?

I wonder if that's a personality trait, becuase I just like baking and meeting people and so on or a two mum thing (see I really am a 'mum'! Yes, you have one at home all the time, but I still drive you to school) or just a convenience thing (it's on my way to school).

Edited at 2014-02-17 03:15 am (UTC)
Feb. 17th, 2014 04:27 am (UTC)
Any worries about infidelity when a dad's social set becomes primarily women who are separated from their partners during the day?

Well, you said anything. :)
Feb. 17th, 2014 08:06 pm (UTC)
I had missed your earlier post, and I really like it!

When you wrote it you were pregnant with Olive and you wrote that your coworkers trusted you'd really be back in six weeks. But that must have to do with them knowing you'd done the same after Josie was born. How willing were your coworkers to trust your SAHD/return to work arrangement the first time? Did they automatically recognize your one earner/one at-home partner arrangement as like theirs, or did they seem to expect you to go all "womanish" and bail on your job? Do you think they trusted in your return because they knew not returning was financially unfeasable or because they accepted your dedication to your career?
Feb. 17th, 2014 08:54 pm (UTC)
- Are there opportunities for SAHD groups? Or is he finding primarily SAHP groups are moms?
- When it comes to parenting, do you find yourself differing more to Marc since he spends more hours with them? Or is it still a joint decision?
- What does Marc feel is the top 3 things a working mom should do to emotionally support a SAHD?
Feb. 19th, 2014 05:35 am (UTC)
I agree with others that I'd be most curious about Marc's social life. Does he ever get lonely or feel isolated? Does he have trouble making new friends or is he just an extroverted bubble of happy that never has issues with that? Are any of his friends also single dads? Does his role as a SAHD affect his friendships from before you had kids? Does your role as a working mom affect friendships from before you had kids?

Does Marc ever get dumped on by other parents? Like, oh here can you do this or that for me since you're a SAHD and have SO MUCH free time? Someone once mentioned that to me, being a SAHM led to working women assuming you like, laid on the couch and ate candy all day or something and would jump at the chance to leave the house and drive someone else's kids to practice or whatever.

Which one of you is closer to the girls? Do you think that your roles in care-taking matter in that?

Do people ever give Marc crap from staying home? Or you for working? How do you resist to urge to punch them?

How do you guys do the budget? (Some SAHPs get an allowance, other couples do envelopes, some are more freewheeling, etc) Chores?
Feb. 19th, 2014 01:14 pm (UTC)
How does Marc feel about how much the work he does is valued, by you, by your family and friends and by society at large?

Id Marc able do do his own things (things he enjoys) while looking after the kids? If so how does he do that? And how much time does he get for himself?

When you're both at home how is the childcare shared?

Are there things that Marc lets them do/have that you wouldn't and vice versa?
( 24 comments — Leave a comment )

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