I was reading this really well thought-out post last night on Dadventure about tips for guys thinking about becoming stay-at-home dads. I could only think of one thing to add, and the middle of writing my comment, I realized that I might as well bring this up here too. Is it OK to feel awkward when you tell people that you're a SAHD?
It came up the other day when the DirecTV guy was over installing my HDTV service (the joys of which I'll leave for another post another day). In the middle of the install, he asked me, as most Americans do to people they barely know, "So what do you do?"
Immediately I gave the answer that I've been giving everyone for the past 15 months - "I'm a stay-at-home-dad."
Not knowing if he didn't hear me correctly or that he couldn't fathom it, I said, "I'm a full-time dad. I stay at home with my daughter during the day."
To which he replied, "Oh. That's cool I guess."
To which I replied, "Yeah. It's really cool actually."
Later in the day as I was marveling at the picture quality of my new television, I kept replaying that conversation in my head. Not because the satellite guy was being a jerk, because he wasn't. I just don't think he had ever met a SAHD before (not to mention the fact that the "SAHD" moniker is cumbersome at best and not easily used in casual conversation). The thing I kept thinking about was my internal reaction to the act of explaining to a stranger what I do. For some reason I felt kind of defensive, like I had to justify not going to a normal job every day. And as the explanation was coming out of my mouth, I felt guilty for not having a normal 9-5 job. The whole thing was very awkward.
Admittedly, all of this is a lot of contemplation for a fifteen second conversation with the DirecTV guy, but it got me thinking. Some of my defensiveness was definitely a guy thing - here was this guy doing a very working-guy type of job, and here I am worried if Noggin is coming in clearly or not. And I do have moments sometimes of nostalgia (and envy) when I'm speaking to my friends about their regular jobs, but I think at the end of the day all of this comes with the territory.
Staying home with my daughter is the right choice for our family, and I'm lucky to be able to do it. And just because I feel weird sometimes explaining what I do during the day doesn't mean I secretly wish I was doing something else. I need to get used to the fact that what I'm doing is different, and probably will be until my Madame is out of the house for good.
And who knows, maybe next time the DirecTV guy will go home, quit his job, and make his wife go to work too.