It’s been four months since I started my new job as a stay-at-home dad. I can’t say that I ever considered this would be my occupation, given my many years of work and study, but I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to watch our young son grow each day.
Suffice it to say, I’m still adjusting. I still struggle with how my career developed to the point that I now find myself without a weekly paycheck. Despite the bonus that I get to see our son learn new things daily, the lack of a paycheck still grinds on me as its been my instinct to financially provide for my family. It also pains me to place the burden of bringing home a paycheck on my wife.
I worked in the financial services industry for more than 14 years, in a number of jobs and for some well known, and less well known, firms for the since graduating college. My last job was with a firm that did investor relations consulting with my hope being the interaction with high-level executives would eventually lead to a position at a larger firm. It wasn’t long before I realized that wouldn’t happen and that workload would keep me at my desk about 50 hours per week and even a few more hours on my laptop at home.
All the while, I was missing out on days, weeks and months of being with my child. If I was lucky, I would get home just in time to catch the end of bath time and see him off to bed. There were many nights when I would not be so lucky.
When I was laid off this past August, I was equally annoyed and ecstatic. I had been running low on vacation days, and I now had the best month of the summer free to spend real time with my son for the first time since he was born. I could spend the day with my son while I looked for a new job.
My new job search went poorly. After two weeks, and without a significant financial cushion to fall back on, we decided to let our nanny go (my old paycheck had barely covered her cost) and that I would stay home to care for our son. I say “decision” but it wasn’t really much of a choice. More like the way things had to be.
My days now are thoroughly occupied with caring for our son from the moment he wakes until bedtime at 7 or 8 p.m. When I have time, I attempt to keep the house clean, run errands, shop for groceries and cook. The challenges in my day are deciding what to make my son to eat, getting him down for a nap and keeping him from wailing on other kids at the playground – he means well but can’t seem to keep his hands to himself. There have been other adjustments, such as often being the only dad in the playground, lacking adult conversation (especially with other guys) for hours each day. Through it all, I have to keep reminding myself that what I am doing each day is work, hard work, despite not getting a paycheck for it.
I still look at job notices on LinkedIn and send out the occasional CV for a position that looks appealing even as caring for my son becomes increasingly easier with a set routine. But with my son now speaking in small sentences, developing a unique personality, I don’t find myself thinking as much about what I could be doing instead of caring for him.
My professional career may be on hold or maybe it’s simply changing in an unexpected way. I can accept that. Especially every morning, when I see my son smile at me and pull me over to play with him.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Edward J. Remache, shown with his son in the photo above, is a writer, researcher and most recently, a stay at-home dad. He was born and raised in NYC and now resides in the West Village.