Note: This column appeared in Manila Bulletin’s print edition on April 14 2018. You can also read the online version.
For the past century, modern society has relegated women as the “light” of the family — which felt more like a consolation title to having that heavy burden of rearing children and managing the home. Like most things in life, this is easier said than done and I assure you, having taken the role of a “house husband” for more than 60 months has made me empathise with how we see parenting from the mother’s point of view.
Here are three things I learned (and am learning) to accept for being a ‘houseband’ in charge of a home and two small kids for 5 years:
On having that ‘second wind’
One of the best moments coming home to family were that few seconds where my boys would run to the door and tackle me with hugs (and plastic swords). As a parent, we all know that second wind — the fatigue from a long day at work washes away when we see our family. It’s not as easy when you’ve been at home the whole day. You’re just tired. Imagine now the roles being reversed — if your wife stays home she must probably feel the same thing. Now I totally get why it’s offensive to say “But you were just home! You didn’t have to go out?” A stay-at-home parent doesn’t have an office job that acts like a vacation from the kids.
On celebrating weekends
When I got back to working weekdays full time, I became oddly excited for the weekend. My wife, who works a full-time job all the way in Quezon City (we live in the south) and I woke early (we have kids duh!) and had brunch in one of those garden malls nearby. I told her “OK now I get it. I know why you look forward to weekends.” Being a stay-at-home parent made me complacent with weekends because it felt like “just any other day” except that your spouse is home. On one end, she dug me out of the hole which was domestic life and helped me remember that married life is a lot more than just having children.
On having honest conversations
One evening I almost broke down in front of my wife because there were just too many things that needed to be done. Balancing my work, taking care of the kids (thank heavens for their grandparents being around when needed), chores, our marriage – this was a huge turning point that led me to really do a deep dive into what it means to handle a household and, more importantly, having a supportive partner, who I realize is on the same page. Had the roles been reversed and my wife told me the same thing I could easily have said “Kaya mo yan! You’re so good at it,” but now I know this response would have come from a place of zero empathy. My wife asked me “how can we make it better?”
Are you a stay-at-home dad? Then kudos to you! Because at the end of the day, there’s nothing like having a home with a father’s touch!