R’s Mom’s note: I started reading Sid Balachandran very very recently. And I am wondering why on earth, didn’t I read him earlier. He writes on everything under the sun from humor, to daddyhood to fiction stories. And his writing has got this subtle sense of humor, which makes you chuckle in the middle of a difficult work day 🙂 He is a stay-at-home parent, and often writes about his toddler, R, who is refreshingly super cute 🙂
Over to Sid, where he talks about the evolution of his dad hood 🙂
With a reported number of two million members and growing, this mysterious species could be considered as potential trendsetters – if what they do could be considered as a trend
Somewhere in a deep cavern, hidden amongst the darkest corners of our world, exists a mysterious species. A species that has over the past decades, both adapted and evolved very rapidly. While they closely resemble all of us in terms of physical features, they do differ in one aspect -they go against the “assumed norms of society”. They live amongst us, going about their daily chores. You might spot them on the playground, sometimes at school drops; sometimes even mid-morning at the supermarket going about their own business. With a reported number of two million members and growing, this mysterious species could be considered as potential trendsetters – if what they do could be considered as a trend.
But the frank reality of the matter is, they just do in their own style, what their better halves have been doing for thousands of years. And just like their other halves, this species too neither requires nor requests accolades or awards. All they need is some respect and not to be judged. Today, I wish to confess – I too am a member of that species. I am a work-from-home dad.
I’ll admit it – my induction into this somewhat elite club of fathers was neither automatic nor accidental. It was the result of months of conversations and practical permutations and combinations. It was the result of wanting to ensure that at least one parent is involved with our child during his formative years. I suppose in some ways, it was also the result of me wanting to choose an alternate path in life – both professionally and lifestyle wise. But whatever the reason was, today I am infinitesimally happy and the joy is only marred by the snide remarks from the wonderfully judgmental people that form the society we live in. You see, unlike the majority of my species who are residents of the more open and lesser-intrusive Western society, I have the joyful opportunity of being part of a society where tolerance and acceptance are words that are often missing from their guidebook to social interaction.
We live in a society where it is often imbibed from day one that the man is the primary breadwinner of the family.
Recently, during a conversation with a friend, she mentioned something that really caught my attention. She said that probably the factor that contributes the most towards the “stereotyping” of our species is ignorance. We live in a society where it is often imbibed from day one that the man is the primary breadwinner of the family.
Personally, I see the rise of stay/work at/from home dads as a positive outcome of feminism and women power.
So in effect, it could be our unwillingness to accept that fact that times are changing and that most men and fathers are happy to do whatever it is they need to do, to ensure a proper functioning of the family. Personally, I see the rise of stay/work at/from home dads as a positive outcome of feminism and women power. More and more women are taking on pivotal roles in the corporate chain and it makes sense from a familial point of view, to decide who plays what role. But again, I digress slightly from my point. Just as there are stereotypes about “how the primary care giver should be a mother”, ever since I joined the club, I’ve started to notice that my species has certain stereotypes that we need to deal with too. Today, I’d just like to bust a few of those.
• We are not- nor will be- replacement moms. We are dads and as good as (if not better than) some of the dads who are still the primary bed winners of their family. So do not call us Mr. Mom or a House-Husband. We do our best at being a dad. And then the moms take over.
• We are not all confused and a bumbling bunch of idiots who can’t differentiate between the front and back of a diaper or gauge if the milk is at the right temperature for the baby. Well, most of the time anyway. Yes, we do have our doltish moments. But I assure you that they are far and few in between.
• No, the main reason behind us taking over the role of a primary care giver is not because we aren’t capable of getting a job or cannot stick around for a job long enough. As any mother worth her salt can vouch, taking care of a kid (or kids – gulp!) is hard work. Yes, much – harder than playing around with those excel sheets or trying to find a bug in your code. I know, because I was once one of those “professionals”. Oh, while we are on that subject, no, we aren’t all sitting happily at home watching TV whole daylong. We do try and do some work which will help with the bills in between all the madness. And yes, so do spare us all (both fathers and mothers) the “stay-at-home” dialogue. Regardless of whoever is the primary caregiver, we are in it as a family.
• The idea behind most of us fathers wanting to take on a role reversal is not that difficult to comprehend. We are just trying to build an alternative home where each set of parent can bring something unique to the table. As fathers, we promote the more outdoorsy and playful side of life and focus on the “learn from experiences” adage. We are also not very schedule oriented and prefer to pick up things on the go. So yes, a dad cannot replace a mom and vice versa. Of course we do have single parents that can do it all, to whom by the way, I raise my virtual glass of ridiculously expensive champagne as a toast. I seriously do not know how you do it and each of you deserve a pedestal.
Living in a society that believes in judging people based on your response to the question of “What do you do?” hasn’t been easy. It is sometimes difficult to not pay heed to the condescending glances that you get when you say that you aren’t the main breadwinner for your family. But honestly, the most positive thing has been I’ve managed to find plenty of friends, especially other women and mothers who have got my back and support fathers like me – aside family, of course. Never once, during my present 14-month journey as a Work-from-home dad, have I regretted the decision that I’ve taken. Yes, sometimes it is a lot more difficult than I anticipated it to be, but open channels of communication and ego-clashes nipped in the bud make it work. Sometimes I do wonder how different things would have been if both of us worked, but personally, I love what I have going and wouldn’t change a thing. Well, except wish my toddler was a little less naughty and a lot less adventurous. But that’s a topic for another day.
And it is always great fun to make up reasons about little things like “Why the sky is so high?” or “Why does it rain?” and the millions of other questions that your kid’s growing minds come up with
And at the end of the day, if I look at the larger picture, it isn’t really a sacrifice. I still get to do what I want, except that I need to be flexible with my timings. Probably the most special feeling is that it is pretty awesome to notice that my son seems to need me more than other kids of his age need their dads. And it is always great fun to make up reasons about little things like “Why the sky is so high?” or “Why does it rain?” and the millions of other questions that your kid’s growing minds come up with..And to have the time to capture, record and save every little milestone and celebrate every little achievement with them – I’d be mad if I said I’d rather mull over a spreadsheet or do a presentation instead. But hey, that’s just me.
So I suppose it is safe to say that for the foreseeable future, whenever the wall clock chimes half-past six in the evening, my little one and I will continue to throw furtive glances at the door waiting for “Mummy” to come home. For completely different reasons of course – him for some mummy love; me for a beer and some well-deserved TV time.