I know I’m supposed to offer grace, but I can’t. Not now, not yet.
Not when I’m still living through my Waterloo; my daily dose of stay home parenting blues.
What am I talking about you ask?
I’m talking about “model breadwinning fathers”
There are many such “model breadwinning fathers”, who spend most years building up a solid career to the neglect of time and attention for their families.
Then later on, after a string of successes at the workplace (along with a string of problems at home), they “suddenly realise” the “error” of their ways. After much “anguish” and “soul-searching”, they decide that it’s high time to “do the right thing”. And so they start to take on smaller roles at work in order to reconnect with their families.
And guess what?
A happy ending is had by all.
What about the rest of us dads who already knew that a career isn’t everything, and achievements in the secular world isn’t everything? We who already knew this life lesson long before these “model fathers” did, thank you very much.
Which life lesson’s that again you ask?
THE Life Lesson that “Family comes first!”
Oh wait. You didn’t get that memo about this life lesson?
Well, I guess that would explain why you blaze a trail in your career long before your first kid was born, and continue to do so long after he was old enough to vote.
Well let me tell you something. When we read/hear about guys like you, guys like me ask ourselves: Why did we get so hot and bothered so soon anyway?
I mean, it seems to have worked out perfectly for you, no? Your wives and kids are still with you, aren’t they? You still have all your families and fortunes intact, with luxury holidays and spare change to boot, correct?
Your kids might have wandered astray for a while with an absentee dad, but oh just look at them now! So grounded, so settled, so responsible and matured.
Good for you! It looks like you were right all along.
So maybe us “un-model fathers” were jumping the gun when we gave it all up to stay home with our kids. Maybe we too should have followed your example. You know, ditch the parenting until they’re way past diapers and degrees.
If it worked out for you and your darlings, surely it’ll work out for us too, yah?
But you know what…?
…I’ve had it up to here reading your feel-good stories!
It makes me even angrier when they are fathers I also happen to know personally.
Why is that? Am I a sour grape? Am I incapable of being happy for others?
I really don’t know. All I know is that after reading or hearing about these bad-turn-good stories (which are really self-congratulatory feel-good stories in barely-veiled disguise), I learn nothing.
Certainly, I learn nothing to help me get through yet another afternoon of math homework with my kid.
Another meltdown on the car ride to and from school.
Another meal time that’s gone past an hour as the kid eats like his dad’s whole lifetime is to be spent watching him get through that one meal.
I mean really.
I learn nothing from you guys, so stop telling us how well it’s worked out for you despite the fact that you chose career over family. And that dads like me need to take a chill pill.
The truth is, for every one of these “success” stories, there are many others that will never see the light of day because they ended up like the Titanic!
So yah, it’s by God’s grace that you guys were spared a watery funeral, cos what pray tell does your tale say? That maybe us “lesser dads” should take a similar gamble and trust that our kids will turn out okay while we go out chasing another dollar, another accolade?
Just because Don Moen used to croon: “God will make a way where there seems to be no way?”
All these smug stories just remind me again of one thing:
May my writings and testimonies about my unfinished journey as a stay home dad never end up being that beautifully packaged, with pretty bows and ribbons on top.
God help me.