A recent article from the New York Times about Wall Street mothers and their stay at home husbands has stirred up a furor in the blogosphere. And it makes sense, because anytime an article focuses on people challenging social norms emotions rise. “Women working sixty and eighty hours a week? What about their children?” people lament. Or on the flip side: “Guys staying home? How does he handle it? What about his career?” (Pictured: my guys at the park.)
This story resonated with me. Not because I work on Wall Street, or make a million dollars a year (hah!), but because my husband stays at home with our son. We didn’t do it as a statement against traditional gender roles, but because it was right for our family. My husband worked eighty hours a week at a demanding sales job for nearly ten years. He got paid well, but was understandably burned out. I had a job I liked, making about half of what my husband made, but working much more reasonable hours when not on the road. When we started talking about having a family, we tossed around various options. Both of us keep our jobs. I quit and stay at home. My husband quits to stay home. Eventually we came to the conclusion that it would be ideal if one of us could be the primary caregiver. If you looked at our jobs strictly from a financial standpoint, it would have made more sense for me to quit and for the Home Warrior to keep working. But if you looked at happiness and life satisfaction, it was a no brainer.
We planned for a year, saving money and paying off credit card and car debt. For the last few months we lived only on my salary and banked the Home Warrior’s. We also had to revamp our budget, since our income went down by two-thirds—no more shopping sprees, eating out all the time, or fancy gifts. Luckily, we’ve always tried to live below our means. Our house is modest, with an affordable payment.
It’s not always easy having the responsibility of my family’s future solely on my shoulders. I know sometimes my husband wishes he could contribute more financially, and feels a little awkward being the only dad at the park during the day. People seem surprised when they find out he stays home while I work. Like everyone, we think about the budget when we go to the store.
The Home Warrior is much happier, and the Mini Warrior is thriving. They go on walks, play at the park, take naps, and do other guy stuff. I work at a job that I love and can take pride that I am supporting my family. And really, it would be incredibly difficult to keep a job where I’m on the road half the time if my husband also worked outside the home. We are incredibly lucky that we were able to make this choice. Not trying to be nontraditional, just doing what is best for us.
Readers, what did you think of the article? How do you handle home duties and business travel?