So do I. In part,
because I feel a certain sense of solidarity with Micah's dad.
I look after my 2-year-old on Mondays and Tuesdays. I work Wednesday through Sunday. The program I host airs in most places in America from 5
to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
While I am fortunate to have a job, I'm also fortunate to
spend a lot of time with my kid on days when most people are at work. But on those Mondays and Tuesdays, I also
have the privilege of experiencing a taste of life as a stay-at-home dad.
I take him to an organized playgroup in the morning and in
the afternoon, when the weather cooperates, we are at the park.
There I am almost always the lone father among mothers and
nannies. According to the latest census
data, there are 158,000 stay-at-home dads in America. Now this number is misleading because
apparently, it does not include fathers who work from home AND look after the
kids or dads who may have worked a week or two during the year. So we can assume the number is much much
higher and possibly growing, in part, because of the dismal job market and in
part, because childcare is often so unaffordable, that it doesn't make a whole
lot of sense for both parents to go to an office or a workplace each day.
Now, this isn't the place to prattle on about the challenges
of being a dad in a mommy-dominated world of child-rearing. It's hard work. Even in the most open-minded communities,
there's always the snickering and the "Mr. Mom" jokes.
But here's what I have learned in all of this. One: never
ask a stay-at-home parent whether they "work" full-time because raising a child
is FULL-TIME WORK! And two: Dads, don't be offended if the mommies keep
you at arm's length. You will never be
part of the inner circle. The mommy
solidarity at the park and playgroup is just a fact of life.
Now all of this takes me to a question one of the mommies
asked me in playgroup not too long ago.
She was curious about what I do.
I explained I host a weekend radio program. She asked, "So does that mean you only have to
work Saturday and Sunday?"
I get asked that more than you'd think. And the answer, sadly, is no.
For those of you who read this blog outside the U.S., NPR is a
national radio news network. Perhaps
you've heard of us lately?
Well, outside the recent distractions, we do one thing. We cover the news. As I write, we have
reporters in Japan
covering the aftermath of one of the worst natural disasters in memory. But we also have correspondents in Egypt, Libya,
Pakistan, Wisconsin, and dozens of other hot spots
around the world.
And that brings me to our program...
This is our staff meeting Wednesday morning.
It is on Wednesday morning where our weekend program begins
to take shape. Our challenge is
formidable. Our main competition is the day.
Each Wednesday, we ask ourselves how we can compete against good
weather, errands, the challenges of parenting, or TV sports or other news
programs to convince you to listen to your radio on Saturday and Sunday.