Janelle went back to work full time at the library on October 1st, so we have changed up our parenting strategy once again. It was great for Nelly and the baby to have her working a bit less this past ten months. By putting in 32 hours a week at the office, she was able to spend more time with both kids as I picked up additional shifts working as a professional caregiver to keep our financial boat afloat. Our overall strategy has been to spend as much time as possible on non-market work like spending days with our children, and as much time as necessary at market work to allow for a more secure financial future. So does this mean I am a “stay at home dad” again? Perhaps, in the sense that my wife is clearly the primary breadwinner and I spend the majority of my time on parenting and household related tasks. But who says we have to stay home?
Last year at this time there seemed to be no end to the cold, rainy bleakness that was October, now the sun does not seem to know when to quit. The spectacular October days have allowed us to maintain our mobility despite having rejoined the ranks of one car families, and we have ambitious plans to ride the bus to the YMCA once it gets too cold to take the bicycle trailer.
We are not alone in acting on our belief that young children ought to spend as much time as possible with their parents, or our belief that flexibility in parenting roles is more practical and fulfilling than adherence to outdated ideas about gender and breadwinning. At the moment, I am preparing to spend the next 29 hours with my mentally and physically handicapped clients, my contribution to the bottom line. The shift is likely to involve dealing with cooking, dishes, violence, and excrement. A small price to pay for the privilege of dealing with these same events each day with my own two children.