For over a year now I have been telling people that I stay at home with my daughter. Response to this news falls into two categories.
First response: dismay, followed by an awkward pause in the conversation while recipient of the news digests what I have told them. Their inability to register that there are such people as stay-at-home dads (SAHDs) is obvious on their face and the direction in which the conversation now moves. They typically switch the topic, pointing out London’s cute outfit or smile, etc.
I get this response mostly from older generations. Just the other night after a meal out, I was standing outside of the restaurant holding London. An older woman started talking to us. She was admiring London. The conversation was going well. I love talking with strangers who want to hear about London. Staring at London, the woman asked her, “Do you get to stay home with mommy?”
“No, she gets to stay home with me,” I said it as proudly and happily as possible and looked at her for a reaction. I saw it. A band of confusion moved across her face like a TVs signal being interrupted. God bless her, she tried to recover, but it sure seemed like she had never met a stay-at-home dad before. I also get the feeling that these people assume my role as a SAHD is strictly temporary.
Second response: surprise (but not as much as the people in the first response), excitement, support, and curiosity about meeting a SAHD. Usually these people immediately tell me how awesome it is that I stay at home with my daughter. They tell me that I am doing a great thing. Unlike the first group, people who give me the second response do not assume I dislike this job or am just doing it for a short period of time. Not surprisingly, people in this group are younger and, because of their response, much better to talk to after the SAHD genie is out of the bottle.
Consider this a public service announcement. When you meet a SAHD today, next week, next year, or whenever, give them the second response. You might make their day and make a new friend.