I’ve fallen a week behind in my blogs. A combination of summer, three kids out of school/daycare, life as a parent, uncle, compulsive content creator… I try to keep up with the blog, but in the battle between videos and blogs, video will always win. And in the battle between parenting and video, well… there’s always a way to combine the two! Lol.
In the context of a family with three young kids, my observation (and I may be wrong) is that as of a certain number of kids, most couples will decide to dedicate one parent to full-time parenting and the other to full time “working”. I am putting “working” in quotes so as not to detract from what it means to work, but only to highlight that parenting is work. Constant and endless work. And I refuse to use the term “stay-at-home parent”. I loathe the term “stay-at-home” parent… Partly because it implies that parenting involves “staying at home”, which couldn’t be further from the truth. But more important, because people “stay at home” when they’re sick. The term implies that parenting is a sickness requiring an adult to “stay at home”. But I digress…
My wife and I have decided that we are both going to continue to pursue careers, which means that we effectively split the tasks of parenting (we have coined the term “tag-team parenting”). We alternate days at work. We alternate supervision while the other exercises. And then we do awesome group activities together (which also serve as awesome content for videos).
So over the last year, I have spent a lot of time in the park with our kids. And I have noticed some things. The first of which is that the older generation loves seeing a dad with his kid. Especially when the kid is attached to his chest in a Baby Bjorn (despite the incredible dangers to men across the world! ;). My parents’ generation just seem like they are not used to seeing a dad in the park or on the street during “regular work hours”. They lived with a certain family structure that I just don’t think applies any more. And I love the reactions I get from a generation who thinks what I am doing is “novel”.
The second thing I noticed is the feeling that others were somehow judging me or thought less of me “as a man”. After all, I wasn’t at the office 12 hours a day, complaining about how hard I was working, only to see my kids for breakfast, dinner or on the weekends. Side-note: The day I quit my job and left the “big firm” life was after a three-day stretch where I had not seen my kid awake. I left when she was asleep, and I came back when she was asleep. And then I just decided that I couldn’t do it another day.
Standing in the park, in jeans and a tee-shirt, with a baby strapped to my chest like Kuato from Total Recall, I was frequently passed by men in suits. I felt like they were judging me. Possibly looking down on me. I wasn’t “making money”. I was no longer playing the role of “important lawyer”. I was just… swinging with my kid. During business hours. And over the last year, I have realized that this feeling was always and only in my own head. Sure, it’s possible that some people did in fact judge me like this. But the feeling of being judged was much more of a self-inflicted psychological fabrication than a real phenomenon.
More important, the feeling was a product of my own insecurities.
And over the last year, something happened… I came to grips with that insecurity. Perhaps because I have found a way to merge my career passions with my family life. Perhaps because I no longer have the same professional aspirations which may be incompatible with my family aspirations. I no longer feel the judgment. Possibly because it’s there and I just don’t care. And possibly because it was never there in the first place. The ultimate outcome is the same. And to quote possibly one of the greatest lines ever from possibly one of the greatest movies ever, “It just doesn’t matter”.