It’s currently Spring of 2021! I started The Disturbed Dad over 2 years ago. When I first began this site, I was a stay-at-home dad, having an amazing journey as a parent. My wife was the one with the career (since people don’t see stay at home as a career), and her schedule had her out of the house for way more than 40 hours a week. On top of that, she had business trips where she would be gone for 1-2 weeks at a time while I took care of 2 young boys by myself. I felt the urge to talk about what I was going through as a dad, and I started this blog. Up until then, my wife had always been horrible at housework and taking care of the kids. I feel it’s a new phenomena of mothers who, not only don’t have basic housework skills, but on top of that they avoid cleaning and cooking like a social pariah. So it was refreshing to have her be the one to make the money while I was the house husband. Before this, I had been the one working full time and coming home to a messy house. While being the breadwinner, I found myself doing the majority of the housework and cooking too! Fellas, If you find yourself carrying your lady’s purse when you’re out shopping (before you have kids), just know that you’ll be doing the majority of the work at home once you have a family. Fortunately for me, I didn’t mind the housework when it was my only job, and I got pretty good at the job of stay-at-home before my wife divorced me.
Women worry that men will leave them for a better looking woman (it’s all about how pretty a woman is), while men worry that women will leave them for a man with more money (in contrast, it’s how successful or rich a man is). My ex-wife will swear up and down that the divorce had nothing to do with my ‘so called’ joblessness, but you can’t deny that she left me when she was financially independent and didn’t need me anymore. No matter the case, I believe that my wife was right to leave: we didn’t have a healthy relationship. And, you can’t have absolutes governing your life, you know. Some parents stay together, no matter what. I’m not ashamed to admit that I begged my wife not to leave, but I’m honestly happier now that she did. It’s weird.
Divorce is not the same for a stay at home dad as it is for a stay at home mom. As a man, you can’t ask for alimony based on the fact that you supported your spouse in her career by taking care of EVERYTHING at home for years. People will laugh at you. My ex got a separate bank account months before the divorce and only gave me monthly stipends in order to do the grocery shopping. When she left, I had just under 2 thousand dollars to keep me going until I found a job. I now know how it must have felt for so many stay at home moms over the generations. I know I’m a man and don’t deserve pity, but I know how unfair it is to be the one with NO money, while your ex gets to look like the best parent for the kids because of they have all the money. The parent with a job is also capable of affording the legal fees of taking the kids from the stay at home parent. No matter your gender, if you’re the parent who decides to be the one to stay at home to take care of your kids, you are taking a huge risk. You better hope you trust your partner not to screw you.
I realize I was lucky. My wife was extremely kind in not trying to get more at the time of the divorce. Even though we rented our house at the time of the divorce, I made it clear to my wife that I was going to be the one staying in it. She doesn’t understand the kind of stability it represents, so she happily got a new apartment across town and we started sharing the kids on an alternating week schedule. Another stroke of luck that most divorced dads don’t usually get came when my mom moved in with me in order to be the stay at home grandma while I worked. We just made one of those new Modern Families you hear so much about. Not to get weird, but it really felt like I got married to my mom. I mean, I just went from one woman in the house to another. All kidding aside, having my mom around allowed me to get a job and start getting my life back. But I was mad that my mom got the job I wanted. I wanted to be the one to stay at home, but that’s not how things work.
I was dazed when my wife moved out. In less than 5 months my ex-wife decided to uproot my kids because she quit her job and wanted to move to Jersey, I thought: if I was dazed, it could be nothing compared to what my kids were feeling, so I knew the relocation was a bad idea for the boys. I won’t get into all my reasons, but I will say that my oldest son has a speech disability and it was simply not a good time to mess with his schooling. I didn’t want him to have to get used to a whole new school, and for that school to have to get used to him. At that time, my son’s school had had 2 years experience with him. The staff and students knew him. When he would go to summer school in the same town, he would not have that kind of familiarity. We had issues where teachers couldn’t audibly understand what he was saying because of his disability, and it frustrated him. He also said he was bullied by kids more, and I think it was because they just didn’t know him well enough not to treat him badly.
My ex wanted to go to Jersey to be closer to family, and I can understand that. She rightfully pointed out how much help I was getting from my mom, and she just wanted to live somewhere where she could get that kind of support. She also wanted to pursue her career out there, but I fought her all the way. Finally, this year, we settled our case without going to court. I’m the parent who gets the kids for most of the year, and they go to their mom’s in Jersey for the summer. I remember telling the women in my life (work and friends) about my win. That, after a year and a half, I had gotten to keep my kids! I didn’t mind so much that not a single woman said ‘congratulations’. However, what was really eerie was that every woman I told said exactly the same thing. Word for word.
“Well, I hope that’s what’s best for the kids.”
After years of, self admittedly, not understanding women, I was finally reading them loud and clear. I don’t have to point out how much of a minority I exist as right now. Very rarely do fathers ever get to enjoy a triumph like this. I had a couple of weeks to feel the glow of that win before my back went out on me, and I quickly lost my job. However, with my tax return and the latest stimulus, I might be able to be the-stay-at-home until they leave for the summer. Hopefully, I’ll have a job before they get back. It’s going to be tight but I’m doing it!
So far, this stay at home thing is great! It was a little hard at first because my mom took the chance to move out after almost 2 years, and I found myself alone in the house with the boys again. I realized that I had been leaning on my mom too much when, after she left, the laundry started to pile up and I wasn’t sure which days were recycling and trash. But just like riding a bike, I started to remember all my little tricks and all the old skills just came flooding back. I make sack lunches and pancakes every morning and it’s better than any career out there. If you’re a parent and you have the ability to stay at home? Do it! If you have the financial stability to be a stay at home, but don’t? Then there’s something wrong with you. These kids are only this age for a very short time. People talk about the time they spend with their kids in terms of Quality vs Quantity, but you need to have Quantity in order to have Quality.
I hope that our society starts to change the way we think about parenting. With coronavirus, I’m hoping we can start talking about how our society can be more supportive of having stay at home parents. I really think we are on the verge of a new culture when it comes to parenting, and I can’t wait to start writing about my ideas on that. Our kids are being raised by too many strangers while we are working. The cost of childcare is getting so high that the absurdity of working multiple hours at a job you hate in order to make money to pay someone else to take care of your kids (and basically break even) comes into clearer focus. I personally want to advocate for more dads to fill those stay at home positions too! Men are way too underrepresented in the profession of the stay at home.
I stopped writing when I started the legal process to halt the relocation of my kids. I didn’t want anything I wrote to have an effect on my case. My last blog post was about having PTSD as a parent, and that was one of the things I was worried would be used against me in court. I’m slowly starting to feel free enough to talk about my experiences as a dad. Even though I was cautious enough to be silent when my case over my boys was going on, I feel like it has inspired me to write about things that make me scared and uncomfortable to share as a parent. Like most parents I have so much stress to be the best parent I can. Similarly, I also have an unfounded fear that others will view me as a negligent parent at best, or an abusive one at worst. I know that I’m a good dad, but I worry that others won’t think I am. If you polled most parents, I’m sure they would think of themselves the same way.
I feel parents need to have more support and respect from society as a whole. For reasons that are confusing to me, people have convinced most parents that our children are actually a drain on the resources of a society, and we are allowed to have our kids on their sufferance. When in fact, our children are absolutely vital to a functional society!
I mean: Fact or Not? Are societies generational in nature? Meaning, do we have the same people in the USA that we did 100 years ago? No! We don’t, obviously. But how is it still the USA? How can our country still be the same country if all those people who started the country are dead?
They all fucked and had kids! Obviously. Parents and their communities passed on language, culture, and other values and our society has not only maintained itself, it has evolved. I think it’s ridiculous that I need to argue with pet owners (who hate children and have none themselves) that we need to have kids, and kids need to have parents who can pass on the culture and ideas that are inherent to our society. Those of us who choose to have kids and value our role as parents in our society will keep our respective countries in existence. Decades of propaganda about overpopulation (among other things) have normalized a kind of contempt for parents, and a hatred for those parents who can’t afford to raise their own kids. That’s why we can rationalize the modern landscape of childrearing, where both parents work and children are raised primarily by strangers. I think the current situation parents face in raising kids is not only unfair, it’s really dysfunctional. Nothing will change unless we talk about it though.
I want to advocate for more stay at home parents myself. You might say it’s because I don’t want to get a job, but I’d tell you that I already have a fucking job! It’s called dad. Bitch.