When I first left my job a couple years ago, there was a lot that I had not thought about. I had not really considered how much busier I’d be day-to-day. I was used to stressful working conditions, tight deadlines, and a growing list of requests. But nothing could really prepare me for what it would be like to be home with two small kids.
The other thing I was not really ready for was a role-reversal in my home. I knew it was coming, I just did not know what it would be like.
I have never had a lot of interest in upholding conventional ways of living just because that is the way it had been done before. My family operates in a different way than families did on my grandparent’s era. To me that is a good thing because things evolve. Roles have changed, especially for dads these days.
I like to think that I’ve always been able to rise above the dad stereotype and make my own path, yet I know that is not the entire truth. I knew that the right decision was for me to leave my job a full four months before I actually gave my notice.
Once I was home with the kids and starting to catch my stride, that four months of work in an office, hauling the kids to daycare, was a period I very much regretted.
The truth for me was that the reason I waited four months was because I was worried about what people would say or think about a dad being home. I did not really know what it would be like to be the primary caregiver day-to-day for my kids.
I was also worried about what my wife’s feelings about what her role would be and how it would change. Would she feel displaced by me being home and starting to fill more of that traditional role?
The answer to that is yes, I’m sure she did feel displaced. And I felt awkward doing the displacing.
When my kids would run to me after they scraped their knee, I wanted to comfort my wife too.
Between my wife and I, it did take a while to sort out and eventually we were in a new routine. Any uncertainty that I felt initially about our roles was replaced by happiness that one of us was home all of the time with the kids.
That was the hard part. The easy part was brushing off looks from people when I would do something that they might not see a dad usually do. I took a lot of pride in what I was doing. I simply did not care what other people thought.
If you let yourself make your own path, it is a freedom that is hard to imagine. For me taking the the plunge into a role-reversal was well worth it.