Are stay-at-home-dads as rare as unicorns? Not for Frank—and a lot of dads these days.
Becoming a father filled me with a pride I’ve never felt before. When the initial euphoria passed my emotions ranged from happiness to concern. Realizing I’d be responsible for caring for this fragile little thing, my biggest worry was please don’t let me screw this up.
My wife and I started out as tag-team parents. She gave me my initial parental crash course—SAHD 101. It was all new to me, my first time feeding, changing and bathing a baby, it went well but I was working with a net—Mommy was there to grab the reins if there was a problem.
My wife’s return to work from maternity leave meant it was time for me to fly solo. Easing my transition she packed the baby bag and left three outfits for Cristian daily. I eased her separation anxiety by texting her status updates and pictures of the baby throughout the day.
In addition to my anxiety, a few family members were concerned—okay maybe more than a few. Trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s always seemed to coincide with aunts, uncles, and cousins stopping by for a visit. Although many wanted to see the baby—it was more than that. There were too many offers to feed and change the baby. I guess they thought I didn’t know what I was doing. If I knew this in advance I’d have loaded the baby up on prunes for that extra gooey diaper.
Coming from a large family means my family tree is filled with many older cousins who are more like aunts and uncles. My generation’s male children are the first sharing the parenting responsibilities. The older guys never fed or changed a baby. Looking at us they must be wondering where did we go wrong.
At first, my aunts were confused by all the shared responsibility. My brother, for example, was an excellent Dad from Day One. It didn’t surprise me—my aunts didn’t know what to make of it. Watching their confused expressions the first time they saw him giving his daughter a bottle, you’d have thought he split the atom.
It’s been 18-months and I still hear “how cute” from aunts, uncles, and even a few neighbors when they see me taking care of the baby. If my brother feeding and bathing his daughter was a surprise, then I must be a Unicorn. I mean I’m home taking care of him every day.
What the older generation hasn’t grasped is this isn’t about being cute—I’ll leave cute to the baby. I’m not alone—there are many SAHDs like me caring for their children. Our child has two parents, and we both share parenting responsibilities.
Unlike past generations, my wife goes to work every morning, while I stay at home with the baby.
It works for us.