1. I exist. Stay at home dads aren’t just on television and in the news. We walk among you, even if you don't realize it. When I'm out and about with my kids, for example, people assume I'm "giving mom the day off" or “have the kids for the weekend” or home early from “work”. I know no one means any harm it's simply what people assume seeing a dad being a dad without mom.
2. This was a choice. Okay, not always. Some men lose their jobs and stay home with the kids out of necessity, but don't assume that is true for every stay at home dad. I'm home with the kids for a number of reasons. I happen to be better suited to the job than my wife. And she happens to make a butt-load more money than I do. Our arrangement makes sense for us and my staying home was a conscious decision.
3. I get annoyed by our kids, too. Being a stay at home parent means you get to spend a lot of time with your kids. It also means you have to spend a lot of time with your kids. They whine, they cry, they fight with each other and you, they won't eat their food, they gravitate towards the most dangerous object in any room, they flat out exhaust you and drive you nuts. But you won't see many memes of SAHDs hiding from their kids, drinking wine in the kitchen. This is partly because we don't want anyone thinking we're incapable, overwhelmed or ungrateful for the amazing opportunity that this is. But we are just as stressed as stay at home moms. And when dads get together, we complain about all the frustrating/exhausting things moms share publicly on their Facebook timelines. We just do it over beer, not wine.
4. I’m not a second-class parent when my wife comes home. I will be the first to admit, I hand my kids off to my wife when she gets home. But it is as much for her as it is for me. She missed them. I've had enough. I'm happy to get to some of that housework I wanted to get to during the day, but couldn't because of my more important role as caregiver. I make dinner, help make sure homework gets done and share bedtime responsibilities. When we're both home, my wife and I are equal co-parents.
5. Making friends can be tough. Making friends after college is difficult for anyone, but it is particularly daunting when you don't have a job. SAHDs feel weird approaching moms and even other dads at the playground. No one wants to be that guy. If you're in a mom group and you see a dad and his children a lot, and he seems like a good dude, and his kids seem nice, invite him into your group. You have no idea how appreciative he'd be, just to be accepted into the club. And if you're a dad, stay at home or otherwise, say hi to your fellow fathers. Take a cue from your kids and assume that everyone is a potential friend, even if you don't know their name.
6. I don't want to sleep with your wife. When I started staying at home with our eldest, and would tell my wife about our day, she'd ask if I "got any digits" from women…or men…but mostly women. Not because she's a freak. But because she wanted me to have adult friends and set up fun playdates for our daughter. She wasn't worried about me trying to bang the mommies at the playground. You shouldn't be, either.
7. I can change a diaper anywhere, it’s my specialty. Sure, there are more changing tables in men's bathrooms now, which makes things easier, but they're not necessary. I've changed diapers on more floors than I can count, not to mention park benches, the trunk of my car or really any flat surface. I have even changed the kids in a bar (though I tried to be discreet about it). All I need is my trusty changing pad, stored in my very masculine diaper bag, and I’m good to go.
8. Sometimes my wife is jealous of my day. My wife works long hours at a demanding job. So do I. But her bosses aren't as adorable and hilarious as mine. They don't give her the world's best hugs and kisses. At least, I hope not. Her job can never be as fun or as emotionally fulfilling as mine is.
9. Sometimes I’m jealous of her day. It feels good to bring home a paycheck. (I remember.) It's satisfying to work on projects and send something concrete into the world, to have someone tell you you're doing a good job, and to have the respect and admiration of the people you work with. Plus, a lot of our time is spent alone…and it's lonely! When we're just shooting the shit with someone, it's usually with a six year old, so we're really just shooting the shoot (because "shit" is a potty word!). It would be great to have more adult conversations with adults about adult things, using adult language. It'd be nice to go to lunch without having to convince anyone to eat their vegetables. And it would be really great not have to watch the Bubble Guppies again.