Every parent wants to give their child what they couldn’t or didn’t have when they were growing up, and to surpass them in every way possible. I am not the perfect mom, though with my husband’s help, I understand and accept that this ideal does not exist. I am nevertheless proud that Fede and I have been able to provide for our precious son in every way, though not just materialistically. Apart from having all of his basic needs met, my son is truly blessed that he is growing up in a stable and peaceful home with two parents who love him and love each other to pieces. I am also proud that he is being raised in a bilingual environment, which will also prove to be invaluable in the future.
Another perk that little Sebastian enjoys? Having the undivided attention of a doting, full-time stay at home parent. A parent who is there to kiss boo-boos and take care of him if he is ill, who takes him to the plaza on sunny days to play, and who is there to experience all the “little moments” that add up to so very much. But I am not referring to myself.
Before Seba was born, Fede and I took inventory of our lives and weighed the pros and the cons of different forms of childcare for our baby. When I became pregnant, I had just been hired full-time at the international American school where I am currently still employed, but Fede had recently lost his job as a graphic designer due to tough economic times that Argentina was (and still is) experiencing.
Our son was born in April of 2013, and after a few months of maternity leave, I was more than ready when I returned to my full-time job in early August of the same year. However, Fede did not. We decided that, at least for the foreseeable future, I would be the main breadwinner of the household, and that he would assume the role of the caretaker.
Yes, Fede is a stay at home dad (SAHD), a househusband, a house spouse, and so on.
And although Fede’s role as a SAHD might be considered somewhat unconventional by some (and perhaps even demasculinizing by others), I honestly have to say that I couldn’t be happier about the arrangement that we have.
I have always valued my career as a teacher. It’s more than just a job to me, it’s a major part of my identity. Have I complained and griped about my middle school position in the past? Of course I have. Will I ever kvetch about it again? Duh. But I’ve often said that if I weren’t a teacher, I don’t know what I would do with myself, what else I could be, and that declaration also includes being a full-time stay at home mom.
There is no denying that being a parent for any gender is by far the most important job that one can have, as well as one of the most fulfilling. On the other hand, I cannot deny that one of the virtues that I place a great deal of importance on is working a job that I find to be dignified, intellectually and emotionally stimulating, interesting, and challenging. I consider myself immensely fortunate that my husband putting his worklife on the back burner for me has meant that I can experience the best of both worlds without feeling (as much) guilt. My job, though secure, does not have much scheduling flexibility. I’m not a CEO or a lawyer of any sort, but I take great pride in my job, which requires a great deal of time and energy and attention even after I “clock out for the day.” But at the very least, I have the peace of mind knowing that Seba is in the best hands possible, under the care of someone who loves him and will care for him just as much as I would. As a career-minded mom, I never had to stress about finding adequate, safe, trustworthy, reputable childcare (that would surely cost a small fortune anyway), which is something that truly has no price. It’s not to say that it’s not somewhat of a financial sacrifice. Surviving on a teacher’s salary alone is not easy, but we make it work.
My husband is truly a phenomenal father, which is reflected in how my 20 month old son is developing and interacting with others and his surroundings. I’m personally very content with our arrangement. Though interestingly enough, not everyone else is.
We often deal with unsolicited advice or judgement from third parties. Coworkers, friends, casual acquaintances, and even some relatives. People who incorrectly presume that I am one of “those women,” selfishly or carelessly prioritizing my job over my family, or that Fede is a lazy bum who needs a major dose of testosterone, and that we are ultimately setting a poor example for our child. It seems that everyone has something to say on the matter.
Pffffft. Screw them.
If the situation were reversed and I was a stay at home mom, I have a feeling that very few people would find anything to reproach. Apart from gender, I see absolutely no difference in the situation. What I do see is that Fede and I make a great team. He does what I would not be capable of doing at home, and I also fill in gaps that would be difficult for him to fill.
As I previously observed, there is no such thing as the perfect parent or the ideal childcare situation when you live in the real world and someone has to work to bring home the bacon. Regardless, I feel that we are doing the right thing for us, we are raising a happy, clever, delightful little boy, and as a family, we are thriving. What is not to love?