COLLEGE PARK, MD- AUGUST 10 : Thera Larson is currently employed but lives with a fiance who is not. She is blogging about her experiences for The Washington Post. Photos taken at the University of Maryland campus, which is near her workplace. (Michael S. Williamson/WASHINGTON POST)

When I get home from work at the end of the day, I am greeted by a happy, smiling baby.  Our baby is so delightful and so secure in himself it’s almost surprising.  He gives love freely and laughs heartily at the smallest of gestures.  He is the light of our lives.

When we found out I was pregnant last year, my fiancé was gainfully employed.  He was a fourth year sheet metal apprentice looking forward to graduating from school and finally working as a journeyman.  Unfortunately, the week he graduated, his company laid him off.

As the months passed and the “one income panic” faded into hard reality, I came to realize that I would have to become the breadwinner of our family while my fiancé would be the primary caregiver to our baby.  We’ve found ourselves in a reversal of traditional family roles, which added another layer of stress to our unemployment conundrum.

Customarily, most men think of parenting as providing.  It seems that a man’s value as a father is based on how much income he’s bringing in.  Even my fiancé believes this idea to a certain extent and staying home with the baby as the primary care giver has been tough for him.  To see me leave each morning with the opportunity to accomplish professional goals, converse with other adults and bring home a weekly paycheck is difficult.  Like many other stay-at-home parents, the non-stop work of taking care of a baby can become exhausting and lonesome.  I suppose it’s hard as a man to know that at the end of the week there isn’t a paycheck to show you the value of your hard work.

My fiancé doesn’t get paid in dollars. He gets paid in smiles and as I mentioned before, the baby smiles a lot.

The opportunity for him to take care of the baby during the day is the silver lining in the dark cloud of unemployment.  The bond theo two of them have cultivated is remarkable and I truly believe the baby is so happy because he has a reliable, confident parent with him during the day.  I am so grateful that my fiancé is such a willing parent and great father.  Our son is very lucky to have him as his daddy.

If anything positive can be said about my fiancé’s unemployment it’s that it has given him the opportunity to nurture our son in a way that a lot of men never get to do.  If he finds a job next week, next month or next year, at least he can say he spent his time off doing the greatest job of all – being a dad.

Thera Larson, a 33-year-old from Bowie, Md., is the fiancee of a union sheet metal worker who has been out of work for more than a year. Read more about her here. Read about the “Help Wanted” project here. Visit the project home page here.

Read more updates from Thera Larson here.