There's a great article in the Washington Post today from author and stay-at-home dad Chad Prevost that's worth reading, "Why this is the end of the dumb dad era." What resonated with me was this passage:
"No, the domestic hemisphere is not for the faint of heart. Not just because it’s hard. It is definitely another job, but it’s also often humble work, tending to others and scheduling your life around their schedules, while remaining engaged enough to be emotionally present for your kids. There’s little external reward, and for many smart and driven people, even when you do it well, it’s not enough."
That is right on the money.
One of the most common responses I get from people (both men and women) when I tell them I stay at home is usually something like "Well, that's definitely a hard job," or, "I could never do it." But I'm lucky we can afford to make the decision to have a stay-at-home parent in the first place, and the truth is the tasks themselves aren't that difficult. However the responsibility and selflessness that it takes to get the work done makes the job pretty tough some days.
So I usually respond by saying, "Well, it's the job that needs to get done."