He wasn’t tuning me out. In fact, I’d said something that interested him. I’d just introduced myself to the people at my table at a March of Dimes breakfast, and I figured it was the word “author” that had piqued his interest. I predicted he was about to ask me how to get published. I looked his way, preparing to discuss writing without discouraging him. I said to myself: Now is not the time to use the words “The publishing industry is imploding.” Now, Jen, smile and look his way.
“I was a stay-at-home dad for five years,” he said.
Well I didn’t see that coming.
“My first book was about my experience as a stay-at-home mom,” I said. “It’s called ’14 Hours Til Bedtime’.” And he laughed knowingly. He’d been there, done that, too.
Aaron told me how the stay-at-home moms in his neighborhood wouldn’t include him and his little one in play-dates, because their husbands wouldn’t like it. He explained how frustrating it was to have the same role as those moms, yet experience discrimination because of his gender.
“I had to be 125% as good at everything to be taken seriously,” Aaron reported, “because I’m a man.”
“Like women feel for every other job,” I added, and I noticed that the woman pretending not to listen to our conversation smirked. Aaron conceded.
“But in parenting, everything is mom-focused,” he said, and I agreed. After all this is MommaSaid, not MommaAndDaddaSaid. I apologized for not being as inclusive in my blogs and books.
“You were ahead of your time,” I offered.
“When I told people I stay home with my kid they’d say, ‘No really, what do you do?'” he recalled. “It was okay for women, but not for me.”
“You’re not home anymore?” I asked. He told me that he’d recently found a job at his gym.
“What’d you put on your resumé?” I asked, and he told me how he filled in the part about his five years as a stay-at-home dad without apology. He’d listed his management skills, his ability to negotiate, oversee, coordinate, organize and plan.
“If you just looked at the bullet points,” he said, “you’d think it was just any other management job.”
“Brilliant,” I added, impressed by his moxie.
Surely, it was about time that somebody gave weight to at-home parenting. For years, I’ve seen too many at-home parents, moms in particular, make excuses for their roles, as if they needed excuses at all. The “I’m just a stay-at-home mom” dismissals, as though taking care of your children is somehow less important than being an accountant or a Realtor or a computer programmer.
Yet here was someone who wouldn’t apologize, someone who’d stared down the looks that said “What’s wrong with him that he doesn’t work?”
And in that moment, I realized that a former stay-at-home dad had scored one for stay-at-home moms everywhere . On behalf of all at-home parents, past, present and future, thank you, Aaron. I hereby edit one of my book titles just for you: “You’re a Good Dad.”
Tell us: Is at-home parenting worthy of a resumé?