Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Lessons in At-Homeness

One of the things that I love about our community and school is the number of families who have chosen to have a parent at home, or with school age children, a parent at home when the children are at home. This is not to say anything against families with both parents working full time, it is simply that the dynamic of the community is different. Friends come home with the kids after school. They can run around the corner to a friend's house or just play with the other neighborhood kids on the block. And I think it makes the parents more open to getting together as well. There is not the busyness or lack of time and energy to socialize on the spur of the moment.

And what I really love about our school is the number of stay-at-home dads. What a cool dynamic they bring to their families. They have really inspired me in many ways. As an at home mom, there are the pressures of the societal images of what an at-home mom should be like, and what her family should look like, and what her home should smell like. Even though we modern at-home moms have busted out of the pearls, that demon June Cleaver still lingers in the backs of our minds as a standard.

At-home dads have the freedom of no such icon. And this freedom allows them to create the role for themselves. They have already done an about face on the societal expectations put on men to be breadwinners, so they have purposefully done away with that pressure. Do they still have to deal with the patronization of career men the same way we do with career women? I'm sure. And it outrages me as much as my own experiences do. But, at home within their families they get a chance to explore. And with this group of at-home dads, they had careers and educations that they put on hold for their families. I have found a great mix of intelligent, creative, fun loving men and that appears to be what they bring first to their roles. They play with their kids. They are so much more active with them. And that's what they have inspired me with. A new emphasis on what should be important in my at-homeness.

It will be interesting to see what the children of SAHDs grow up like. Especially the daughters. I get a little worried sometimes when Jellybeam wants to be like me so she straps a doll into her sling and starts washing the floor. Not that that isn't a part of what I do, but it isn't who I am. And the father-daughter dynamic is so different from the mother-daughter one. Mothers tend to coddle their sons, and fathers their daughters. So, to have that full time coddling reversed would be very interesting. What a neat childhood for a girl. And for a boy to have someone there actively playing and roughhousing and giving an outlet to that energy. AND he'll see a man modeling housework for him. His future wife will love this! I just really enjoy watching these families and how they interact. It gives me so much food for thought.

My favorite example of the difference of the kids being raised by at-home dads vs. moms was from a dinner party we had a few months ago. Jellybean came into the dining room and asked me, "Mommy, can I please have some more chocolate milk?" Not 5 minutes later a little boy walked up to his dad and said, "How about another round of chocolate milk, dad?"


Anonymous said...

I love this post! Kudos to all the sahds - I heartily concur that they do play more. My husband has been home since our daughter turned one - she's now six and knows that dad is a better cook and more fun than mom. When she was 2 and I went to clean the house she asked what I was doing with dad's vacuum! She's decided that when she grows up she's going to be a scientist who studies volcanoes and earthquakes and either dad can stay home with her kids and pets or her husband. Thanks so much for the morning smile.


Molly & the boys said...

LOL - Brantley asked my husband for another round of milk last night and I almost fell over laughing! Jeff works from home so is just "around" all the time - which is really cool in my house of boys!