My secret desire to be a stay-at-home father

Photo: Shutterstock
Photo: Shutterstock 

It was quite possibly the last thing I should have been thinking about in that moment.

I was in my first year of university at Charles Sturt in Bathurst and living away from home for the first time in my life; looking back now some 23 years later it is almost embarrassing to admit what went through my mind.

Walking into town with my J-Hut dorm buddies (most likely headed for the Oxford Tavern), I stopped on the corner of William and Browning St and noticed out of the corner of my eye a family of four clambering into the car.

I remember – as clear as day – thinking to myself, 'If I could fast forward to that place in my life right now I would do so in a heartbeat.'

Like I said, given what I have experienced in the past 20 years it's an admission I'm almost ashamed of, that before my career had even begun all I ever really wanted was to become a full-time father.

Well, that time has come.

Becoming more and more disillusioned by the industry I was in I made the decision to walk away.

It wasn't quite that simple. There were serious discussions that first had to take place but ultimately my wife and I arrived at a simple truth: She didn't have enough hours in the day for a career she loved and I was wasting away hours doing something I no longer enjoyed.

So we flipped it and that aspiration of devoting the majority of my time to our two beautiful children, a dream hatched before I'd ever really had a serious girlfriend, has now come true.

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I have become the primary care giver.

I like to think I assisted as much as possible and was an active father in my children's lives but there is no doubt that there have been times when long hours have left my wife fighting a lone battle to keep the chaos in check.

That balance has now shifted.

I do the school drop-offs; I do the pick-ups; I facilitate sports aerobics practice on a Wednesday and basketball training on Thursday. I prepare the majority of the evening meals and usually end my days making lunches in order to get a headstart on the 24 hours to follow.

And I love it, but there have been some adjustments to be made, both in how I see myself and how friends view the decision that we have made.

Working parents know that it takes very little to fill the six hours when the kids are occupied by school and when you are trying to squeeze in a new life as a freelance writer the 'working day' is less like 9am-5pm and more like 7am-9pm.

But as a man I can't deny that there is a stigma that is attached to stopping full-time work in order to focus primarily on the family.

Mates of mine have been doing what mates do; giving me a hard time and countless doubtful looks when I tell them I am working harder than ever.

I do fear what might happen should I need to rejoin my chosen field on a full-time basis in the future having stepped back from an industry that I worked so hard to establish myself.

But there are not enough hours in the day to get mired too deeply in those thoughts right now.

I was raised in what would have been considered a traditional family where my father worked and our mother stayed home to look after us three boys. Right up until we got to an age where she had to work part-time in order to keep pace with the food bills.

As a male of 42 years of age I was raised to believe that my primary function was to provide for my family.

Now, my primary responsibility is to guide my children through their schooling years so that they too can plot a fulfilling career path of their own.

What job could possibly be more important than that?