When you talk to other dads, one topic that really burns our ass is how men who stay home with the kids are referred to. I had already written a long rant about it when a reader sent me another post on the same topic. So once you have read this post, please head over to the Toddler Trunk Blog and read the post called Don’t Call Me Mr. Mom. Talk about timing. Thanks for sending Amy.
Now on with my rant for the week.
Parental Leave is Not a Vacation
Have you been on a vacation lately? Did you go somewhere fun? Sunny? Interesting? I bet it was relaxing and nice to get away from the norm. I went on vacation last summer and it was all of the above.
Right now, there are a few people out there who would like think I am on vacation as we speak. I mean, I am not at work. I am not heading to the office for eight hours every day and I am certainly not part of the weekly rat race. I sleep when I want, eat when I want and pretty much answer to nobody all day.
Sounds great right? Well it is great. I am on parental leave, taking care of my amazing baby boy. And if you want to call it a vacation, you certainly have not done enough parenting in your life.
Parental leave is not a vacation. It is not a break. It is not time off. It is not a sabbatical. It is hard work that I am fortunate enough to get to experience.
So why does the outside world look at it as a vacation. It must be because you are not going to work. Are they jealous? I would be.
I get to stay home all day with my son and watch him grow. I get to experience something that everyone should have the chance to.
Sure doing the daily laundry, meals, diaper changes, bed changes, bottle feeding and stroller walks does not look that glamorous, but it is certainly much harder work that sitting in an office working at a computer.
Take that stress of meeting deadlines and throw it out the window. When you are staying home with your baby, you don’t have time to be stressed. Life moves fast. Your baby moves fast. Oh, and you do all this deprived of decent sleep and having that underlying worry that you are doing it all wrong.
My wife and I are very confident with our parenting and yet, we by no means think we have it figured out. Every day is a new challenge. Every day something new is thrown at you that you don’t have long to think about.
Sound like a vacation? Yeah, maybe now you are starting to see my frustration.
People don’t know how to react when you say you are on parental leave. Many make a face that says, really? Why would you want to do that?
Others are awesome about it and pass on words of encouragement. I have even had many men, say they were actually jealous and that they wish their situation allowed them to do it.
I guess I am lucky that it worked out for me.
Living in Nova Scotia, things are a little behind the times. I only say that because I have lived in other parts of Canada and I have some reference.
In Toronto for example, a dad taking parental leave is almost a cliché. It is not new and people are not thrown off by it.
Here, however, it is still a little odd that a man would choose to do that. Many women here would never share the time with their partners. I read a lot of women referring to it as their year. While I see where they are coming from, only 12 weeks of that is technically the woman’s. The rest is parental, to be split up however the family wants.
I know a few guys who have done the leave before and were great at it. But I am certainly the first to do it in my office and based how the mall looks on a Tuesday, there are not a lot of dads out and about.
I am two weeks into my leave and while it has been a nice change from office life, I am much more tired and feeling like I am getting nothing done.
Then I have to step back and look at the big picture.
Our son is getting the attention he needs. He is happy. He is sleeping through the night. He is sitting. My wife and I did that. She took the first 6 months and I am taking her playbook and running with it.
Our son gets to experience how mom did things and now how dad does it. We were just asking each other the other night, if it will reflect in the kid’s development. Hard to really say. But it is two different types of parenting.
I don’t sit around all day watching TV. I am not reading books or looking out the window with my feet up. I am working my ass off to keep the day-to-day going. Just because the baby is sleeping, does not mean it is lazy time. Sure you take it when you can, but there is cleaning to do, food to make, bills to pay and yeah, another boy to take care of on three of the days. Throw a toddler into the mix and the term vacation really burns my ass,
So to all those stay-at-home parents, those on parental leave and those who give it their all for their kids, keep it up. I know you are not taking a break or hiding for what people call the “real world” out there.
There are many days where sitting in an office and doing one thing for multiple hours seems like a vacation.
Still think parental leave is a vacation? Still think I am taking a break over here? Wear my shoes for a day first and then we can talk.
Everyone who has kids, should be so lucky to get to spend this quality time with their new sons or daughters.
So dads, what term really gets under your skin? Hell, this goes out to the moms as well. Would love to hear your story.