I Want To Be A Stay-At-Home Dad When I Grow Up
Me and Luke, about 1 year ago.

I Want To Be A Stay-At-Home Dad When I Grow Up

Me and Luke, about 1 year ago.

Me and Luke, about 1 year ago.

 

When I think back, I don’t remember saying, “I want to be a stay at home dad when I grow up.” I guess it just kind of happened that way. I had all kinds of different careers in mind that I thought I could do. Teaching was something I always considered. At one point I wanted to be a personal trainer or work in a gym setting. I was never terribly ambitious. I knew I wanted a good job so I could live comfortable enough. I was always more concerned with having free time to hang out with family and friends. I guess you could say “being content” was one of my many qualities.

 

After I turned 16, I always had a job of some sort. For the most part, I usually averaged about 3 years at most of my jobs. There were a few that I spent shorter stints at, but all and all, I liked staying with what was familiar. There were even times that I had 2-3 jobs at a time. By no means have I ever been scared to work. So from age 16-33 I always had a paycheck. The big question when I decided to stay at home with the kids was, “What is the value in this and how will this pay me?”  Little did I know the amazing return I would get from being a stay-at-home dad.

 

I had been working as a teacher for five years when we decided to move to the Austin area. I had four great years as a teacher, but my last year was absolutely awful. I was burned out and feeling abused by my students and the administrators. To be honest, I should have done us all a favor and quit. But that’s a story for another time. When we moved, I made no real effort to find a new teaching job. I looked into other options, but no doors were opening.

 

Grace was going into kindergarten at the end of that summer. We had no desire to send her to public school, there were not any openings at the private schools, and by no means did we have the talent or patience to home school her. By the grace of God, we were introduced to a great Catholic family, the Mesichs. They had seven kids that they homeschooled.  After meeting with them and talking about what we wanted to do, we decided to have Grace start home schooling with their family. It was perfect. They had girls that were four and six years old, so Grace fit right in the middle at five years old. Over the next couple years, we became like family. The Mesichs have become a huge influence in our lives. They supported us when we joined the Catholic Church. They are Godparents to our son Luke and all their kids treat Grace like she is one of their own.

 

This is important, because it was the determining factor that made me an at-home parent. I couldn’t find a job that would allow me to drop Grace off at 9 in the morning and pick her up at 3:30. And with Abby on the road often, we didn’t want her with a babysitter all the time so I could work.

 

It was a little rough at first. I felt a bit worthless. I felt like everyone saw me as a lazy husband that let his wife take care of everything. At first, I mostly just did normal household chores while Grace was at school. It didn’t take me long to get bored. I didn’t want to spend all my spare time in front of a TV, so I started finding projects. I started repurposing and building small furniture. If Abby needed me to do something she would ask. But for the most part, I still didn’t know my value.

 

I started to think Abby might resent me. I didn’t know if my family and friends had much respect for what I did. There were times that I questioned what kind of example I was setting for my kids. Were they going to see a father and husband that took care of and protected his family, or was I just the maid/driver? It took a lot of prayer and talking to other good Christian people for me to start realizing my role. The most important thing I did was force myself to reevaluate my definition of the word “provider.”

 

There was a day when I had an epiphany. God had called Abby to do a huge job for Him. He needed her to get the truth out there. It was time for the prolife movement to evolve and Abby was going to be part of it. God was guiding Abby and keeping her very busy. With everything that was going on, I realized I wasn’t just along for the ride. God had called me to take care of Abby and our family. God needed me to make sure everything at home was ok while Abby was on the road. It was my job to keep her happy and healthy so she could do God’s work (which meant, as a friend of mine pointed out, that I was also doing God’s work). If I didn’t remind her to relax or take a break and eat, she would forget. She needed a partner, someone bounce ideas off of, calm her when she was frustrated, defend her when she was attacked, and provide her with much needed breaks from her work. Like it or not, I was what she had. So it was time for me to grow a little confidence and man up. No more worrying about appearances. Just move forward and take on the job as it is.

 

Once I figured that out, I began to love my job. And I think Abby did too. She has made it very clear that the best way for me to provide what our family needs is for me to be at home. Since then, we have had three more babies. To say the least, I work harder now than I ever did. But to be honest, it doesn’t feel like work. Every day, God reveals the value of my work to me. Instead of getting a piece of paper with commas and zeros, I have the assurance that I am exactly where God wants me. I have learned that what I provide is stability. I am here to welcome my wife home from long trips, make macaroni and cheese for Grace, hold Alex up to stick his hand in the Holy Water font at Mass, comfort Luke when his brother knocks him down, and rock Carter at 2 am when he is gassy. It’s my job to show my my boys how to “love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her,” and to show my daughter what to look for in a man. I may not have it down to science, but I know my role, I know what I need to provide, and I am willing to take on the challenge that God has given me. This job is full of laughter and tears, spankings and hugs, busy times and slow times, but most of all, every moment is a quality moment. In trying to figure out my value, I realized that stay-at-home parents are invaluable. Giving up that paycheck has been one of the best decisions I have ever made.

“Dear, I always say, a flawed husband is better than none at all.”

Robin Williams, Mrs Doubtfire

31 comments

  1. LOVE IT. If I can convince Tonya to adopt. that IS what I want to do!!

  2. Love it! A stay at home parent actually adds a huge dollar amount to the bottom line. If you add up housekeeping, cooking, child care, yard… etc it would be upwards of 150k for most families. So while you might not have a paycheck, I’m sure you save a ton! Thanks for sharing 🙂

  3. Loving this blog man! As a college professor my schedule allows me to spend a great deal of time as a caregiver for my daughter, and so I end up taking on a much larger dad role than is considered “normal” by society. It is interesting to see the reactions I get from people in the grocery store and other places where my “non-traditional” parent role is on display to those around me. I have to say that I love being a dad and taking a big role in my little girl’s life, but there are some in society that look at me weird for doing it!!!

    Looking forward to your adventures!!

    Dr. B

  4. Doug,

    Thank you so much for this. Your story is almost an exact mirror to mine. I have averaged about 3 years in each of my jobs and I am now contemplating staying at home with my 4 four boys while my wife takes on bigger roles in her career. I wasn’t sure what was right, but after reading this article I am certain this is what God is calling me to do. Having four boys, I can’t think of a better way to raise them to be holy men than to be with them every day and challenge myself to be a role model for them.

    My other goals are to get into the Deaconate and earn my Masters in Theology. Are you doing anything like this?

    God Bless you and your vocation and ministry. Thank you again.

    • My wife is a huge education hog. She is working on her second masters now. I never loved school, but I spend a lot of time reading as much as i can and listening to lectures on cd or podcast. My bachelors took me 8 years, so I have no desire at the moment to go back. I may in the future. Having 3 kids and diapers, one in school, and a desire to have more in the future kinda puts my goals on the back burner. Right now, I would rather take classes in cooking, gardening, beer/wine making, wood work, metal work….. I enjoy this kind of work and want to teach the kiddos to be more self reliant.

  5. Awesome job! Keep it up, my good man. We need more men wholly devoted to WHATEVER their HOLY appointment may be. The applause of Heaven — I mean, Home — is deafening!

  6. I have nothing but admiration for a stay at home dad! I’m sure you do an amazing job. My neighbors have the same situation and I always say that he does a better job than I do! Abby’s a lucky woman.

  7. Hi Doug

    I too have been a stay at home dad for 10 years and always have been proud of the fact I was. Recently too my wife has been working on a project for her work that had had her away from the family more than usual and I have not dealt with the loss well at all. I also feel worthless in my role lately but reading your article has really put what I have been doing in a new light. I really like how you reprioritize what it means to be a provider. I too am doing God’s work and providing for my family.

    Thank you and thanks to my wife who shared this with me this morning.

    • Glad it helped. To be honest, I still struggle with it from time to time. But I will say, if you kept the kids happy and the house from burning down, you did it right. Another thing I learned is to have small increments of quality time with the wife planned and something awesome for when her project os over.

  8. Good bless you for sharing this! My husband was a sahd for 11 years while I worked a corporate job. It was the same sort of decision that led us in that direction, we didn’t want anyone else raising our daughter. He raised our now 9 and 12 year old daughters, and they are still 2 of the most well behaved, respectful, and loving girls you could ever meet.

    This even led him to a great friendship with our (now) neighbor. He is a sahd of 5 and lived across the street from my in-laws. When he meet us, he thanked my husband for staying at home with our girls because when he meet my in-laws, they were the first people to understand why a father would stay at home instead of a mom.

    Now that our roles have changed, i lost my job, we moved to Florida (next for to my in-laws!), I am raising our girls and new son while my husband works. I have such an appreciation for the gift he gave us all those years. And we have a great neighbor, too!

    God bless you for your incredible vocation! Your children will grow to know a special relationship with you, and you will be a model of a virtuous husband and father, just like St. Joseph! Your support of Abby and her amazing ministry is so deep! God bless you all!

    • I always say, if someone is going to screw my kids up, it might as well be me. I don’t want anyone else raising my kids either.

  9. Thank you for sharing! Believe it or not, moms today have to same struggle. We are made to feel like being a stay at home mom has no value. I work in a job, other than being a wife and mother, but have been blessed with a position that allows me to work from home while our daughter is in school. For several months before I found this position I was off, and considered not returning to work. I struggled with the same thing you did. I felt if I stayed home, I would have nothing to contribute to the household. After all, our daughter was in school all day so what would I do? On the other hand I loved being home when she came home. I love that women have more choices today regarding working or staying home, unfortunately, society has had a complete turn around and we are made to feel useless if we do decide to be stay at home moms. It’s sad that we can’t be more supportive of each other’s choices in that area. I’m glad that God showed you how valuable you are to your family!

    • I have a good friend that said he would loose respect for his wife if she stayed home. He never said that to me. The sad part is his wife hates her job and has always wanted to stay home. She was born and raised to be a wonderful mother. I keep trying to work on him, but he is stuck on that paycheck. I don’t think people see the long term value.

  10. Hello Doug
    It’s nice to finally meet you. I follow Abby and her pro life work on Facebook. I am a stay at home dad with two boys (ages 3 and 2) and one on the way. Thank you for sharing your experience. I struggle with the same thoughts and inadequacies you did. I found your words encouraging. Thank you. Marty

  11. Ann Couper-Johnston

    My #1 grouse about the feminists is that, rather than insist that what a woman did in staying home was as important as the part the man played in the family and equal to it, they saw equality as the woman going out to work just like the man. This compounds the “domination” of the male, as there are now two people doing the man’s job,

    As a woman, I don’t want to be another man! I want what I do to be valued in its own right as something vital to society, which it is. I would only go as far as to insist that a woman’s work is important, not change the whole structure of the family. It is important, too, that there is flexibility; I am all for the man being a househusband if that suits him better. My dad would have made a good one – he played an important part by taking over when he came home; he was the one that put us to bed and I remember him saying prayers and tucking us up. If we were ill, he would give us a wash and change the sheets – that felt so good!

    The feminists made the mistake of thinking that only paid work was valuable and that that way lay equality, so now women too are enslaved to the workplace. This means there is often no-one dedicated to that most important job: looking after the children. Children deserve someone on the job and It takes TIME. It takes time to take a kid into the shop and let him choose what he wants – and you aren’t wasting time because in the process he should learn: that he only has so much cash and if he spends it he has to wait for more; which of what is on offer is the best to buy (biggest, longest lasting?); talking to the shopkeeper; being patient and polite if he has to wait; sharing the sweets he bought. Mum might make a quick visit to the supermarket and pick up something for the kids after work, but they won’t learn as much.

    I hope your kids have many great times to remember. You have the potential to give them a lot more than some kids by giving them those memories, by taking time to do things – cook with them, show them the garden – enjoy!

    Whoever does it, making a home is an important job. My mother hated the word housewife. Her passport described her profession as “married woman” and “homemaker”. Your family need that home to come back to/nurture them just as much as they need clothing and heating and all the other things you buy.

    • Thank you. I enjoyed that perspective. My number one need is quality time. Although being at home is hard work, the gift to me is that I have gobs of quality time with my kids. We do cook, eat, and play in the garden together. We have movie and pizza night and spend as much time as possible in the back yard. I believe it is important to teach my kids to work hard, but to put family first. I would rather have a small house and take lots of vacations than live in a mansion with no time to spare because I have to work for it.

  12. Truthfully, no one has been able to “sell” me on at home dads,ever. I’m almost 40. This blog post just helped me re-evaluate . Thank you. You just convinced me it’s what you should be doing. “The older I get the less I know” My former Pastor gave me that quote years ago. Blessings to you.

  13. My catholic neighbours are an example of this. Mrs is a Doctor and Mr is a stay at home Dad. He is a prime example of man/father hood to everyone he meets. Good for you Doug, I wish I also had the Mesichs as my neighbours 😉

  14. Great article that captures the emotions of stay at home parents. God gave us the model of the Holy Family for a reason. During our marriage, at different times, my husband and I have each been the “breadwinner” and the ” bread maker”. It was important to us that the two of US cared for our children and our home, and we made it happen.
    Keep up your GREAT work as a team! God will bless you abundantly.

  15. Well done, Doug. Thank you for sharing.

  16. I love this! You put exactly into words what I experienced too (well without the being a man part lol). I felt the same way when starting to be a stay at home mom. No one ever really prepares you for those feelings when switching from a six figure paying job to one where your “boss” spits up on you, leaves you sleepless, and plans your entire day around not missing the golden nap time. No one can really understand either unless they have walked in those shoes. Thank you!

  17. This is a beautiful expression of the value of stay-at-home parents, whether male or female. When my son was a baby, my husband was his primary caregiver and I was the primary breadwinner. For our family, this was not the ideal solution. My husband did an amazing job, but my heart was at home, and it was hard on me to work fulltime. Thankfully we were able to switch things around when my son was 18 months old. But every family is different, and I’m sure there are many families like yours who would be blessed to have the husband at home. God bless you and your wife for your witness and for the service you’re giving to the pro-life movement.

  18. I appreciate your post so much! I work and my husband stays home and I have struggled with it. I have come to feel, though, that my “problem” with this arrangement has come from the very conservative Christian view that a woman should desire to be in the home, caring for the family. I love our kids and I would love to be independently wealthy so we could BOTH stay home and all hang out, doing life together. But I also love my job and am blessed to be able to work three nights per week and provide for our needs and a great many of our “wants.” We homeschool, so on my days off I help with school and am involved in the kids’ activities. We are conservative Christians, so I’m not knocking the view that “women belong in the home,” but I do think that in my case, it caused some spiritual distress and envy for what I didn’t have but now feel that maybe was never what God intended for our lives.

    • When people ask me why we keep having so many kids, I tell them it’s because, when I die want to make sure their are more people left behind that will vote like I did. We aren’t the most conservative family, but we do lean heavily in that direction. I don’t believe that to be the head of the household a man has to work at a job, make the most money, or make all the decisions on his own. My role is to lead, protect, and provide whatever talents God has given me. When we joined the Catholic Church, the best thing I learned was that to be Holy means to be what God wants you to be.

  19. The way you describe your early years of never being afraid to work hard but not exactly having a drive to be a specific career person is exactly where I found myself before becoming a stay at home mom (before children). I always felt out of place and bored before I started my current “job.” I am pleasantly surprised to find men (or anyone for that matter) who have felt the same way. Most men (and many women) I know have this drive to do a particular type of work and finding that career was like puting on pants for them. That’s what staying at home feels like for me. It just fits. I wonder how many stay at home parents have gone through a similar process before embracing their career at home. It’s a weird feeling saying that “when I grow up, I want to be a stay at home parent,” but it is a valid career choice too. Thanks for being brave enough to embrace and share! By the way, we are about to have baby #4 and I am homeschooling our oldest. Don’t underestimate yourself. If you ever want to try, I bet you would do great!

  20. You remind us all that a married couple while two distinct people are one in love, purpose, family and commitment to the union. When my spouse and I are working together for the good of the other, that is when our lives are happiest. You each have a distinctive role to play in God’s plan, but neither could do it well without the other….Just beautiful!!!

    • I may have this comment printed into a flyer and hung above our bed. Short but sweet, and awesomely accurate. Thanks. Abby and I have always seen ourselves as a great team. Knowing our roles and knowing what we bring to the table has made our vocation a joy.

  21. I loved reading this. My husband and I had a more conventional division of labor while our five kids were growing up. Looking back, we agree that neither of us could have made as good a journey alone. I never realized until our kids were grown how much my husband appreciated how I was a “stay-at-home” (ha!) parent all those years. When he said something about it (after three decades of marriage) and saw my surprised look, he said “I thought you knew.”
    Yup, we stay-at-home types are blessed beyond measure. God bless you and your family.

  22. Hi Doug!

    Thanks for being willing to share yourself with all of us. Your vulnerability is heartwarming and I pray that it is inspires and encourages many other men to see they are more than just their occupation. My daughters will not remember how many vans my husband delivered for his employer but they will remember how many times he delivered them.

    On a lighter note, I would like your feedback on beer. I am not a beer drinker. I really think it’s kind of gross. Strange thing is, I have been craving one. I have tried the dark beers and I find them bitter and yucky. Can you recommend a “sweeter” beer? Are pales better?

    Anyway, thanks again for opening up your heart. I look forward to your response.

    In Christ,

    Cristina

    • To be honest, a lot of pale ales are more on the bitter side. I love dark beers. I enjoy the roasted, coffee like taste. Funny thing is, I don’t like coffee. If I were you, I would try some wheat beers. they tend to have a fruitier finish. They usually brew them with fruits like orange or raspberry. Experimenting with beer can get expensive, but you just have to commit to trying new things. My buddies girlfriend decided she wanted to start trying new beers, and we were able to find I series of desert beers that she loves. The brewer is Souther Tier. They make a beer called Choklat and another called Creme Brulee. The are very heavy and very sweet. This is their link http://www.stbcbeer.com/
      One thing to remember when trying new beers. Know your limits and know the alcohol percentage (ABV). If you are not a seasoned drinker, you could be drunk before you know it.

  23. Making that choice to be a stay at home parent is both hard and easy. I think you do a great job at it! Keep up the good work and your children will be proud. Love the blog. 🙂

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