I believe in making unconventional choices – not for the sake of being unconventional but if it’s the right thing to do. Recently, I gave up a good job as business development manager in nuclear waste management. Now I deal with a different kind of waste: Diapers from my twin boys, Milo and Kai. I’m now a fulltime stay-at-home dad.
My wife, Joann, and I had a difficult pregnancy and the boys came two months early. We’d always planned to have our children in daycare, but when doctors said the boys’ immune systems weren’t ready, we had to look for a nanny. When that didn’t work out, we were in a bind. Joann loves her job and wanted to continue. Her work has high job security and strong benefits. One benefit is good health insurance for the boys.
I’d not planned to quit work either. But it occurred to me that out of necessity, I might be looking at a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. We crunched numbers, examined our savings and decided to go for it. I quit my job and am staying at home with the boys now until they are ready for daycare.
The U.S. census bureau counted 98,000 stay-at-home dads in 2005. Talk about a minority: We account for only 0.001% of 65 million dads in this country. Because I’m one of a rare breed, I heard some teasing from friends about Mr. Mom and breast feeding at first. But even though I miss the fast pace of my office job, I’m really enjoying my new life. Being with the boys offers some rewards that no company could ever give me: I was there for Kai’s first flip on his tummy. I discovered Milo’s first tooth. I get to hold them when a bad dream disrupts their nap. And the boys’ teething smiles for dad just defy description.
My new job also grants me a little more time for myself. I get to read the whole A section of my Wall Street Journal and, on occasion, I even get to take a mid-day nap. The highlight will be the soccer world cup this month, when I get to watch live games after lunch. Between all the diapers and nursery rhymes, I’ve discovered I find myself making sure that I still do enough manly things too. So I regularly meet friends for beers and I also smoke more cigars on those occasions than I used to.
So, here’s to unconventional choices and my fellow 98,000 dads that have made the same decision I did. They are a fine group of men and I’m proud to be one of them. Oh, and for the record: We prefer the term “Mr. Dad”.
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