I can’t remember when I first realized that I wanted to have children, but I figure it was at least 20 years ago. I have now been a dad for going on 5 years. And while the early years with infants were difficult – moreso that I expected or imagined – I can’t explain how incredible it has been. I know plenty of dads, many of whom clearly love and cherish their children. But among those that I know, I feel like I am alone in one strong desire: that is to be a stay-at-home dad.
The first time that I thought about the prospect of parenting roughly full-time was over two years ago. At that time, my then-wife was doing very well in her career and the economy was not yet in the doldrums. The thought of leaving the full-time workforce was frightening in many respects and would have required that I pick up freelance work from time to time in order to simply pay the bills. Yet I was serious enough about it that my then-wife and I discussed it. And while she was quite hesitant at first, she quickly warmed up to the idea. It would allow her to concentrate more on her flourishing career and would allow me to spend more time with my children. It seemed to be a win-win. Yet I never pulled the trigger. Soon after, the economy began to falter, my wife’s paychecks shrank and then disappeared entirely, and my resolve vanished. And with it went my chance to follow a dream.
So many things have changed over the past couple of years. Just ten months ago, I would have bet my life (and in some respects, I did) that my then-wife and I would grow old together and raise our family in the little house we called home. And yet, here I am today, a (reluctant) single parent. One thing that remains is my love and commitment to my family. My children are no longer a daily part of my life. And while I have never wept more about anything else, this has focused my already strong desire to be the dad they need.
I had a rare opportunity the past few days to spend an extended amount of time with my daughter Elnora and my son Emmitt. And for the first time in a while I thought about what it must be like to be a stay-at-home parent. How amazing must it be to have the opportunity to spend the lion’s share of each day with one’s children, the greatest blessing that God has given us short of Christ himself. And I realized that I still desire few things more. In fact, never before have I wished this much to be able to parent my children full-time. But due to the circumstances of my now divided family, it is simply no longer a possibility.
I look around me each and every day and see so few dads who take their job as a parent seriously. Even among those who truly appreciate their children, few seem to want to spend every day with them. And I can’t for the life of me understand why. Am I really that different? If there actually is someone out there who, like me, wishes to be a full-time dad, my advice to you is to look for opportunities to make it happen – and soon. We have no greater responsibility in life than to raise our children. And no job could be better.