By the time we became an item and later married, Todd had two children and was a work-from-home single parent. His children were the focus of every decision he made. Their welfare was carefully weighed against career advancements and when in doubt, the kids came out on top. He was part of a new breed of father - nurturing, involved men who knew they could change diapers, cook meals, and kiss boo boos as well as their female counterparts. They were open to the idea of a man's unique role in the development of his children. The current crop of stay at home dads guide and shape their families like no generation before them.
It wasn't long after Todd and I married that he went back to the office environment. With the combining of our families and a new baby, it seemed best that way for us. He handed the torch to me and now I'm the chief boo boo kisser. I think this kind of saddens him and he misses the constant stream of hugs and laughter. Sitting in a cubicle is not his thing. For him money is a means to an end, not the goal. I certainly understand.
He still finds time to help coach football teams, make and decorate special birthday cakes (and the kids really put his abilities to the test!), read the Hobbit at bedtime, and go to every school function. It's that important to him, but it's taxing. Now his life is too full, mimicking those of exhausted super-parents who try to do it all.
As much as he misses his years as a stay at home dad, he's told me he felt isolated and devalued by a society that looks down on men who are not racing up the corporate ladder. This is slowly changing, but in a recent article on Seattlepi.com, Seattle area stay at home dads still find it hard to connect with other like-minded fathers. They still feel left out and ignored at predominately mother/child centered playgroups.
The good news? They are not discouraged. They are redefining parenting and networking groups to suit their needs. No more tea parties at the library. Meetings at the local skate park followed by a walk to the bookstore and a jaunt into the local glassblower to watch the flames shoot out of the torch are more their speed.
It's been shown that full-time fathers are more relaxed than their female counterparts. My husband can attest to this. No precisely packed diaper bag with matching changing pad for him. His style - a bottle and bag of munchies in one jacket pocket and diaper and wipes shoved in the other. Dad's are more likely to change a diaper in the stroller behind a park bench or let their kids pick out their own clothes (who cares if the socks match, she's happy). Do the kids suffer for this? I don't think so. They're probably more relaxed and self-confident because of it.
I, for one, am proud of the choices my husband has made in regards to parenting. Back in the early '90's he was a maverick. I'm glad the ranks of men like him are growing. If you know someone who has taken on the job of full time parenting..give them a pat on the back. It's not easy.
One of the best resources on the web for full time dads is http://www.rebeldad.com/index.html. It's much more than a blog. It contains a vast array of resources. Brian Reid, of RebelDad, is living his subject matter and easily conveys the emotions, joys, and frustrations of being a "Rebel Dad".