The stay-at-home dad (SAHD) used to be as rare as a unicorn, and stay-at-home dads who blog, even rarer. Enter Frank Priegue, whose blog I ran across last month. Frank and his wife had been married for three years when their son was born. Frank was 50 at the time. Since his wife’s career was more stable and he was between jobs, the couple decided he’s be the stay-at-home parent. Once that decision was made, Frank took a conusuling job that allows him the flexibility to work from home and pursue freelance projects while he takes care of their baby.
Just like any parent, he says he faces issues like teething, colds, playdates, keeping the baby entertained, juggling My Gym classes. Text or email updates keep his wife in the loop throughout the day, whether it’s a photo of their very cute son playing or a schedule check for a pediatric appointment.
I asked Frank if he’d share one of his blog posts with us while I’m away, and here it is.
Becoming a father was an experience filling me with a pride I’d never felt before. When the initial euphoria passed my emotions ranged from happiness to concern. Realizing I’d be responsible for caring for this this fragile little thing my biggest worry was please don’t let me screw this up.
At first my wife and I were tag-team parents. Being the oldest of three children, she gave me, the younger of two, my parental crash course—SAHD 101. It was a new experience for me—I’d never fed, changed or bathed a baby. Although my training went well, I knew I was working with a net—she was there to grab the reins in case I did something wrong.
My wife’s return from maternity leave meant it was time to fly solo. Easing my transition, she packed the baby bag and left three outfits for our son daily. I eased her separation anxiety by texting her status updates and baby pictures throughout the day.
Family members’ non-verbal concerns
In addition to my initial anxiety, there were a few concerns—okay maybe more than a few. Trips to Grandma and Grandpa’s coincided with family members stopping by for a visit. Although some wanted to see baby—it was more than that. Too many offers to feed and change the baby told me they thought I didn’t know what I was doing. Had I known this in advance I’d have loaded the baby up on prunes for an extra gooey diaper.
Coming from a large family means my family tree is filled with older cousins who are more like aunts and uncles. My generation’s male children were the first taking sharing the parenting responsibilities. Our fathers and uncles never changed a diaper or bathed a baby. Looking at us they must wonder, where did we go wrong?
Initially my aunts didn’t know what to make of the shared responsibility. My brother, for example, was an excellent Dad from Day One. While it didn’t surprise me, my aunts didn’t know what to make of it. Watching their confused expressions the first time he gave his daughter a bottle, you would have thought he split the atom.
I’m not doing this to be “cute”
Seventeen-months later, I still hear “how cute” from aunts, uncles and even a few neighbors when they see me taking care of the baby. If my brother giving his daughter a bottle was a surprise they must look at me like I’m a Unicorn. I mean I actually stay home every day and take care of him.
What the older generation hasn’t grasped is this isn’t about being cute—I’ll leave cute to the baby. I’m not alone—there are many Stay-at-Home-Dads like me doing the same thing. Our child has two parents, and we both share the parenting responsibilities. The difference is my wife goes to work every morning while I stay home with the baby.
It works for us.
If you’d like to follow Frank’s blog, I’m Not Grandpa, it’s HERE.