I used to think I had the best job in the world. As good as it was, though, I’ve since found a better one. It has its tough times and the pay’s rubbish, but the other benefits make up for that. Just don’t get me started on the hours!
It’s obviously still considered an unusual career choice: for a few weeks I was convinced my flies were undone because of the strange looks I’d get in the street.
Fortunately, this wasn’t the case – I’m simply a Stay-At-Home-Dad.
It wasn’t exactly planned, but then, again, neither was Samuel! He was just a few weeks old when I became ill with fibromyalgia (a musculo-skeletal disorder) and was signed off work.
Unfortunately, things haven’t got any better. I now have to use a wheelchair or walker for anything more than the shortest of distances, and I’m embarrassed to admit that my 13-month-old son can walk faster than me!
Despite that, though, we have lots of fun and a fantastic relationship.
Challenging parenting stereotypes
I’m sure we’d all admit that parenting can be challenging at times, and I don’t want to make out that it’s harder for SAHDs than SAHMs – but it’s definitely different.
For example, I used to find it really difficult going to the clinic with Samuel, as some of the mums would seem uncomfortable about a man trying to join their ‘club’. They’d all meet up once a week for coffee, but I never found a way to invite them over to my place without it sounding like a chat-up line.
Taking Samuel swimming still causes a few raised eyebrows, too, particularly at one local pool where there’s a wonderful purpose-designed baby section with changing tables, playpens and so on… in the ladies’ changing area. I asked the staff if we could use these facilities, but they didn’t know what to say.
Don’t worry, I won’t venture in there. It’s hard enough getting a pushchair in there, let alone a wheelchair.
Best part of being a stay-at-home dad
Overall, I adore my job. I get to do more with Samuel in a day then many men do with their kids in a week, if not a month. Swimming, trips to the park and soft-play centres, appointments at the clinic, shopping – we’re rarely at home!
And I’ve learnt so much this past year.
For a start:
*Ladies’ and gents’ loos are quite different (I have to use the ladies’ at times to change Samuel)
*Humpty Dumpty isn’t really an egg
*Wendy from Bob the Builder was once a man called Lenny
*And, as Samuel has demonstrated recently, hot-cross buns can’t be tumble-dried.
But, more importantly, I’ve learnt to adapt to being disabled and being a dad, and in doing so I’ve realised that it’s the best job in the world. I wouldn’t change it for anything.