Hi there Internets, my name is Lou Doench. I turned 45 on December 11th 2013, I’m married (to the most wonderful woman on the planet), a life long Cincinnatian, a Saggitarius (I’ll have no truck with the silly new “Ophiuchus” nonsense… I like my nonsense traditional TYVM), serial parentheses abuser (insert witty parenthetical here, make up your own… everyone can play), father of three children (more on them later), and a Stay at home Dad.
Since the turn of the century, which to a pre-Gen X-er like myself always sounds like the long long ago but to most folks today means “13 years ago”, the subject of Stay at Home Dad’s has been popping up in the news as a certified “phenomenon”. According to the Pew Reseach center “More dads than ever before—roughly 550,000 in the past decade and counting—are staying home full-time with their children.”. On the other hand, Jordan Weissman at the Atlantic writes about “The overhyped rise of Stay at home Dad’s”, countering with…
Today, while perusing a bit of Census data, I was reminded of why those stories are making a big deal out of a microscopic trend. It is true that, according to the Census, the number of stay-at-home dads has more than doubled over the last decade and a half, from about 76,000 in 1994 to 189,000 as of last year, as shown below. (there are charts below in her article that show how less than impressive that total still is).
And at Time Magazine, Dr. Peggy Drexler announces “Stay at Home Dad’s will never become the Norm.”, which may sound depressing until you realize that even the lower end of our population estimate probably outnumbers the people who still read Time magazine.
Whatever ones take on our societal impact or how many football stadiums we could fill, the fact is that what was once considered a shameful rarity has become a viable lifestyle choice. We’ve come a long way since 1983’s “Mr. Mom”, (a full review of this Ur-text of the SAHD phenomenon will be forthcoming) introduced us to every joke you could ever think of about stay at home dads. Seriously, unless you are funnier than Michael Keaton, don’t bother, folks. We SAHD’s have our own national organization, The National At-Home Dad Network. A quick Googling will reveal a horde of SAHD Bloggers, including yours truly at Raising Hellions on and off for the past few years (note, that’s http://raisinghellions.wordpress.com/, not http://www.raisinghellions.com, which is a lovely Dark Angel fan fiction site, which I bet you didn’t even know was a real thing.)
We even have what has to be the premier achievement of the 21st century, our own reality show, Modern Dads on A&E (which I will admit to having never seen, because reality shows make my teeth itch, as well as cutting into the time I have to devote to watching “Haven”), as well as our own kinda sitcom, the Web series ‘The Stay at Home Dad”, which I also have not seen (out of due diligence I will try, but a cursory glance reveals that they have paid no attention to my “Mr. Mom” rule.)
I draw no specific conclusions about the SAHD phenomenon at this point. Every family is different and we simply haven’t been around long enough in my opinion to make any sweeping generalizations about our growth, our lack of growth, our reasons for becoming SAHD or the reasons we stop (read the linked articles, those folks are likely smarter than I). I can tell you my story, which is probably not very typical because I’m not the most typical guy. But it’s a starting point that we can branch off from as we journey along.
I met my wife (who we will refer to as The Girl) thirteen years ago, just after the Fake Election. I was a photography student at the time. She was starting her way up the corporate ladder as a Design Manager for a Humungous Global Corporation which will remain nameless. We married in 2003, by which point I was convinced that the life of a commercial photographer didn’t mesh well with my own talents and The Girl was well enough ensconced in her career track that she could afford to have a kept man. So before I was a SAHD, I was already the even more rare Stay at Home Husband. In 2005 we had our first kid, a little girl, The Schmoo (the Hellions will be referred in this space by their “womb names”). Schmoo was followed 2 years later by her sister The Peanut, and there we thought we were done. We’d successfully replaced ourselves in the world. Then there was a hiccup in our birth control regimen and we were “blessed” with a little boy, The Grommet.
Over the last eight years I have been their sole primary caregiver. I cook, I clean, I do laundry. I pick up the Hellions from piano lessons and drop them off at summer camps. I’ve changed countless diapers and cleaned up numberless messes. In most respects my life is little different from what one might imagine a stay at home mom’s might look like, except I probably watch more pornography than the average mom. Probably. The differences are there though, and I hope those differences will make for interesting further discussions .
SAHDing isn’t my only parenting interest of course. I’m an atheist and a skeptic. I consider myself a feminist (feminist ally if you prefer). I follow a lot of parenting trends, from whether my kids watch too much TV, to whether we worry too much about our kids TV watching. I’m very interested in the “Free Range Kids”, and Secular Parenting movements as well. The project of raising the next generation continues whether we like it or not. I hope I can be a part of making that project easier, more fun, and perhaps we’ll all learn something along the way here at Grounded Parents.
Peace, Love, and More Love… Lou.
Featured Image Credit: “Butterfly” Blotz Photo Arts, Image Credit: “George” Blotz Photo Arts (me)