Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Guest Post...Chronicles Of A Reluctant Housedad - Anniversary

Keith is like my male opposite equivalent. Confused? Well, he blogs over at 'Chronicles of a Reluctant Housedad' which is a mix of witty musings (and mean recipes - boy that man can cook!) on his life since he swapped roles with his wife and became a stay-at-home-dad.  

Oh and he gets extra kudos as he mentioned me in a radio interview once ;-)

We've never met but I'd love to meet him because I think he's lovely - maybe one day it will happen.

I give you Keith and his perfectly timed guest post - Anniversary...

It was a year to the day that my wife and I swapped roles. I waved her off to her new job as a magazine editor and I started mine as a very reluctant housedad to our three children, my stepdaughter, now 10, and our sons, aged seven and four.

Why reluctant? Well, I never in a million years imagined for myself the role I now occupy. I – we – was/were forced into this situation by circumstances. I was made redundant from my job as a publishing executive in June 2010. And after six months trying, and failing, to land a position that would pay the mortgage and bills, we came to the conclusion that it wasn't going to happen.

But where's there's a will there's a Successful Other Half, and so when it became painfully clear that doors would continue to be slammed in my face, my wife started looking for work herself.

At one point, it was like a race to the finishing line. We had both reached the top two on the shortlist for positions but ultimately, I failed, and my wife prevailed.

It was a hammer blow to my ego. I hadn't had a day out of work since I became a journalist of my local newspaper 28 years previously. At first I struggled to cope, not just with the attack on my self-worth, but also with coming to terms with the day-to-day effort, drudgery and loneliness of my new life as a housedad: the cleaning, the ironing, the relentlessness of the school runs, the nagging and the perceived notion that I was somehow less of a man because I was no longer bringing home the bacon.

I wore my reluctance like a badge of honour, and created my blog to chronicle the new-to-me experiences of being the primary carer.

I come from a traditional working class background, the oldest of four boys, and we have always worked, a graft ethic etched into our DNA by our hard-working mother and father. None of us have ever been driven by status, but we are all motivated by the desire, the need, to earn. I could no more claim benefits than I could nail my scrotum to a table with a rusty nail. Fortunately, my wife earns a decent slab – enough to pay the bills – so I didn't need to consider that option (the benefits, not the scrotum piercing) but I still needed to make money. I could never, ever countenance being a Kept Man.

But then my wise wife pointed out to me that even if I was in a full-time job, I would have to clear around £30,000 before tax to pay for the childcare necessary to look after our London brood.

Added to that was the knowledge that there are around 200,000 housedads like me, either by choice or circumstance, so who was I to think that running the home and raising the kids was somehow beneath me?

Suddenly, I felt like I was earning, and that my paid job was to raise our children as best I could.

So instead of moping and sulking, I took to my role as a Stay At Home Dad as if it was a new career. I'd become Chief Executive of Kendricks Inc.

I relished spending time with my children, reading to them, helping them with their homework, teaching them about the realities of life by getting them involved with chores.  And they responded. Oh, how they responded. Children are incredibly adaptable and they started to look to me for approval, advice and direction, which took the pressure off my wife to focus on her stressful job and deliver the dough that I would subsequently turn into bread for the table.

But the real breakthrough was when I started my blog, and then began to Tweet. And instead of feeling isolated and trapped in my new role, I felt supported, encouraged and connected. I've never met any of the people who contact me, and perhaps I never will, but these new 'virtual' friendships mean a hell of a lot to me.

It is, in part, because of them – because of their comments on my blog posts, their engagement with my Tweets – that I now, a whole year on, I feel very happy to reveal the five words I thought I would never, ever say.

But most of all, the realisation of what really matters, what fulfilment is all about, what my place on this Earth is – for now at least – comes from the incredible woman I married and the amazing children who are my stepdaughter and sons,.

It's because of the 'gift' my wife gave me to spend so much time with my children and the fact that my children are just really bloody great, actually, that I can truly say:

I LOVE BEING A HOUSEDAD!

I spoke these five little words to my Successful Other Half the other night after a particularly hard week at the office. I half-expected her to throw me off our roof terrace because of how hard her working life is compared to my domestic existence. But instead, her eyes pricked with tears.

Y'see, my reluctance has made her feel guilty about any enjoyment she's had being the Family Go-Getter these past weeks and months. So instead of telling me she's had a buzzy old day making decisions and thriving under pressure, she's kept her pleasure to herself lest it provoke a spew of envy from me, her D'OH (that's Domestic Other Half!).

Now, I hope, we can both enjoy each other's triumphs and highs, instead of being worried about downplaying them to spare the other's imagined feelings. It's only been six months, and we've each been on a huge journey of transition, but we appear to have reached a point of acceptance. Long may that continue.

It's been a hell of a six months, and who knows where the next six will take us, but for now, I present to those who I've befriended a gallery (at the top of this post) of highlights of the Chronicles of a Very Happy Though Occasionally Frustrated And Prone To Temper Tantrums Housedad.

346 comments:

1 – 200 of 346   Newer›   Newest»
Mari said...

I've only bumped into Keith recently and I took an instant like to him too. Great post Keith and I'm so pleased you're now enjoying your role, 'It do narf make it easier!' see you for your Recipe shed tomorrow ;)

Honest Mum said...

Well done you!

SAHMlovingit said...

Thank you for guest posting Keith x

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