For those of you who don’t know what’s going on in my marriage, please read My First Day of Marriage Counseling, and maybe you will want to leave a comment about how if you were my husband, you’d divorce me for blogging about my marriage.
My husband, in fact, has brought up divorce for other reasons. I am not totally sure which ones, to be honest, but I think it is career related since I have a great career and his sort of stalled when he became a stay-at-home dad and then went to hell from there.
There are a lot of stay-at-home dads in my neighborhood. After all, I live in a town where you can buy a house for under $200,000, so living on one income is not that hard here. That’s part of the reason we moved to Madison.
So my friend who writes for a very huge and widely read publication needed some stay-at-home dads to interview. And I said, “I know a bunch. I’ll give you names.” But you know what? None of them would talk. And of course my husband would not talk, because stay-at-home parenting has been a disaster for us. And if you ask all the high-level women who have men at home with their kids, (there are tons) their husbands are not talking.
So I’m going to tell you the truth about stay-at-home dads: The happy ones are working part-time at something they love. This is not surprising because the majority of women with kids would rather work part-time than either stay-at home full-time or work full-time. Which explains why we’re done with the stay-at-home dad routine.
Not that I really know what my husband is doing, though, because we are barely talking. We are doing what I imagine lots of couples do when things fall apart: Acting totally normal at events where normal families show up as families, and then pretending we don’t know each other at home.
And I do feel a little like I don’t know him. Last night I accepted a LinkedIn invitation from a friend. I went immediately to see our common connections – my favorite thing to on LinkedIn — and, there was my husband.
I wasn’t shocked that she knew him. I was shocked by what he wrote for his profession. Stay-at-home dad, former online game producer.
Surely writing stay-at-home dad on a LinkedIn profile cannot be good. But that’s what he is, so what else is he going to write? I went to LinkedIn to investigate the stay-at-home situation. When I searched the string “stay at home”, I got 471 results. It makes sense, I guess, because the biggest problem people have when they leave work to take care of a kid is that they lose their contacts. So LinkedIn would be an obvious thing to do to make going back to work easier.
The list was mostly moms. The first guy I saw was not only a stay-at-home dad, but in his special skills section he lists “baby stuff”.
As the career expert in my household, I always think I’m ten steps ahead of my husband. But I didn’t know that somewhere in the back of his mind, while we’re at soccer games and swimming lessons, he has been wrestling with the question of what to write on LinkedIn, which is really the question of how to present himself professionally when he’s abandoned his profession. I feel very lucky that I’m the one who kept up a career.
So we are interviewing babysitters because my husband needs time to think, and you can’t think about the state of your life and what to do about it when you are taking care of kids.
While I was conducting an interview, my husband was scurrying around getting camp lunches ready for the next day. This is an endearing thing about my husband – he is the king of details, and I am terrible with them. Every time there is something wrong in the lunchbox, my son comes home and asks if I could please not pack his lunch anymore.
So my husband was running around the house and he bumped into me. A normal thing to do would be to say I’m sorry. But we are not talking to each other. And the babysitter saw that an opportunity to be normal was somehow missed.
I needed to say something to explain the weirdness, because good babysitters do not work in homes of messed up families. I thought a little story might make things feel like I have some control. So I said, “Um. My husband and I are, uh. Well. We are…”
And the babysitter said, “Oh, don’t worry. I know. I read your blog.”