What It's Like To Be Married To A Stay-At-Home Dad

by Jill Robbins

My husband is a stay-at-home dad. This is a new, and probably temporary, dynamic for us. He recently retired from the military and he’s taking a break before entering the civilian work force. He takes care of things on the home front while I work and freelance part time.

Like everything else in life, being the one who gets up and goes off to work every day comes with highs and lows. If we’re talking counting blessings, my family has plenty, so when I complain about my job or being the breadwinner, I feel a little guilty. I know I am lucky to have a job, many don’t. We’re fortunate not to struggle financially; I know some families worry about how they’re going to buy groceries.

But I still have my moments of bitterness when the alarm goes off every weekday morning.

Sometimes, life gives us little moments that help shift our perspective. The view from a crack in my bathroom door this morning was one of those little moments.

I get up with the chickens to write (we don’t actually have chickens, but I get up early—you get the idea). I like the sound of nothing-at-all while I take those first few precious slurps from my favorite coffee mug. I have three kids so my house is always loud. Really loud. Having this time to be alone with my thoughts and my words is what centers me and makes me feel human.

At 6:30 this morning, I downed that last bit of coffee and snapped my laptop shut with a sigh. I felt heavy and deflated because it was time to get ready for the job that feeds my family, but doesn’t nourish my soul the way writing does. I tiptoed past my still-sleeping husband, trying not to be bitter because he gets to stay in his pajamas and I don’t.

I went through my morning routine. My attitude was just a little more sour than usual. I guess it’s just one of those days, I thought. I showered, dressed and plugged in my blow dryer. I usually enjoy the ritual of running my brush through my hair, feeling the warm air on my scalp. A nice looking head of hair usually puts me in a good mood, but on this day, even the small, simple things that normally make me happy weren’t lifting my pissy mood. I could feel myself embracing a full-on bad attitude. I knew I should at least try to snap out of it.

I switched off the hairdryer and heard the giggles. No matter what kind of mood I’m in the laughter of my two preschoolers brings smiles. Their laughter is infectious. I wish I could bottle it and sell it as a cure-all for crappy moods. Then, I’d be a wealthy woman and could wear my pajamas all day, too.

I peeked through a crack in the door that separates our bathroom from the bedroom and I saw my sons piled in with my husband. They were tucked on either side of him and the business at hand was blowing raspberries on their father’s forearm. The kids were laughing their heads off and I could see my husband’s ear-to-ear grin illuminated by the dim sliver of bathroom light.

While I was occupied with the business of mental complaining, my boys and my husband were occupied with the business of making memories. When they are teenagers they might remember this morning as a simple time when their dad took time to be silly with them. All too soon they’ll be too old for snuggles. When that time comes, my husband might replay this memory. I know it’s forever stored in my mental photo album.

My husband is the best dad in the world. I know that probably sounds totally cliché but he didn’t become a father until he was almost 50. There were probably lots of times he didn’t think “daddy” would ever be a word that applied to him. It’s nothing short of amazing to see him embrace his role as a father at midlife, and yeah, I know the word “amazing” is a little cliché, too, but it’s really the only word that fits.

The view from the crack in my bathroom door today showed the father–sons bond in full bloom. It melted my bitterness and dimmed the heaviness I felt at the prospect of heading off to work. This stay-at-home dad interlude is allowing time for things that will be remembered for years to come.

This season of our life is about things that will matter most in the long run. Important things like blowing raspberries in the morning.