Crowding in the ER
Last week's story "Odd Man Out," by D.C. dad Mark Trainer, prompted soul-searching responses by e-mail and on the Web from many parents trying to create the right work/family balance. A selection follows:
After five years of staying home full time to watch a 5- and a 3-year-old, I'm not worried about the endgame. I'm impatiently waiting for it to come.
I love my children very much and feel I give them good and stimulating care, but there's no lonelier job on the planet than a stay-at-home dad. I'm responsible for the children full time, and all my wife wants to talk about when she gets home from work is the kids. All the stay-at-home moms at the library or the park talk about the kids. No politics, sports or hobbies -- just kids, kids, kids.
I have lost my identity and many of my old friends, and I struggle with making new ones (because after I've made dinner and done the dishes, I'm too wiped out to socialize, and I can't in good conscience take off more often on my own during the weekends).
Parenting full time is a necessary, important job, but my life takes a back seat. Hell, I feel like I'm in the trunk sometimes.
I am a stay-at home dad by choice after I had a near-death heart infection. It's great, but I feel guilty sometimes, which may motivate one to try harder to make the wife's favorite meal perfectly and serve it in nothing but an apron and a chef hat.
Being at home, I can control my own performance when we have that two or three hours over exercise, dinner, TV and bedtime to discuss how our days went, knowing we are striving to live together, love together and celebrate together. With this healthy marriage, it doesn't matter how the world sees us.