I read Roissy’s article on Consumer Confidence and found this gem buried within:
.. it occurred to me that the nuts and bolts of being a man is to produce more than you consume.
To maintain a wife, children, even a dog, a man must produce more than his consumption. Once you’ve lost that capacity (or never developed it) you are less of a man – you are a burden. You must be provided either by charity or guile, but you’re not producing.
For all the fem-centric male professions of how rewarding being a stay-at-home Dad is, what eats away at them [females] is the hindbrain awareness that he is not producing more than he consumes. This is the same awareness etching into a woman’s psyche when she’s the one doing the provisioning.
One of our close friend’s family has one child, in first grade, and the wife makes the money in the family. The husband, a skilled tradesman, decided that working made him miserable, so they decided he should stay at home and take care of the household, get the child on the bus and be there when he gets home. A job many SAHM’s do and not really that out of line with many other family structures and it seems to work for them. I have no idea what the wife thinks of this, but for them, a husband who has less stress (by not “working for the man”) is a better alternative than having him work and be miserable toward everyone.
My boss’s wife is in a similar situation as a SAHM. She doesn’t use most of her day to keep the house really tidy, or make great meals or really knock it out of the park at her job as home maker though she does an ok job of keeping the family unit running smoothly. But she uses a good part of each day to pursue her favorite athletic endeavors like running, biking and swimming. She’s a nice person and looks good for her age (obviously in shape), which helps. However, I know my boss has a little resentment over the fact that she gets to “play” all day on his nickel. But they’ve been married forever and likely it will be fine.
So I think, as a man, the roles are a little more murky being the stay at home dad, especially a bright and able-bodied one. Back to our friend. He takes care of the house, takes care of their garden (big, but not huge by any means) and works on home improvement and other personal pet projects. He’s a net consumer of family resources and not a net provider. It’s none of my business, but it just screams that something in the framework of being a man is not right there. This individual is genius level intelligence, skilled in handiwork and general mechanic-hood (is that a word? if not, I just made up a new word, you’re welcome Merriam Webster) yet something is lacking in his DNA that makes him want to provide in the most primitive sense of being a man.
The payback for this lifestyle (compared to mine) is that he get’s to spend an extra 20 minutes in the morning with is kid prior to the bus and an extra hour to hour and a half after the bus drops him off, along with all summer days together. Not bad, for summers alone I’m admittedly a little jealous. However, he has one kid and our family has two, which makes a huge difference (I think) in the types of activities and general social play and bonding that goes on. At the after school program our kids partake in, they have lots of activities and more often than not are doing them together along with other kids. Loudboy and Birdsnest are really good buddies most of the time and spend a lot of weekend days doing things together if Holly or I don’t have structured activities for them. In the summer, the kids do essentially a local day camp. Do we wish we could spend more time with them as stay-at-home parents? Absolutely, mostly during the summer. That’s the trade-off we’re deciding to make and having a strong two-parent house with a very stable and loving environment, and two kids who are well bonded to each other makes the trade-off more palatable to us. Life is always about trade-offs, more of this but less of that, and certainly I can see the tradeoffs that they feel are in the best interest of their family. Anyways, back to discussing the difference in mentality of a less-structured, free lifestyle of a SAHD and the one I (and many of you out there) live.
I embrace hard work. I suffer in workouts, I strive to be a good worker and usually go the extra mile. I take satisfaction in providing financially for our family as well as being a good father and doing many of the same duty our friend performs. I know that if I slacked off in any of these areas, lost my job or decided not to work, how my wife would view me would change. I would be another person dependent on her for support, at least financially. The power dynamics of the relationship would change and despite her best intentions, I would image I would inherently be less of a man in her eyes. Is that fair? Probably not, but it’s both the societal norm and something that seems ingrained in most men (as far back as caveman days) to provide for your family. If you don’t, even for good reason, expect that hindbrain part of your wife or girlfriend to rebel against accepting you as a leader of the house in other ways. And expect your man-peers, friends and family talk behind your back about how they don’t understand how a man could be happy in these newly defined roles. If that’s what works for you and your family in this regard, that’s great, but be aware that people (including your wife and maybe your kids) are going to view you much differently consciously or subconsciously than if you held down full time employment.