100% Dad

By Eve Wee-Ang 2023-07-18 16:28:43

Life of a stay at home father.

My husband once took a six-month sabbatical to be home with our kids and me. He took over caregiving responsibilities of our children who were then 6 and 7 years old. If you were to ask him what the best moment in his life is today, he would have no qualms telling you it was that half a year spent being a stay home dad.

Stay home parents are mysterious in the eyes of society. “What do you do the whole day?” was a question I found myself defending when I was a 100% mom. “Lots”, I would reply. “As with every role in life, you need to try it in order to know it.”

Joel Aviles, from Massachusetts, USA has been in Shanghai for four years and is a 100% dad to his two boys aged 8 and 10. He and his wife decided that one of them would be the primary caregiver for their kids when they were based in Mumbai, India and their firstborn arrived. Joel‘s decision to be a stay at home dad was crystal clear. He described a strong paternal urge to care for his newborn. When their second child arrived, it was only fair that Joel raise him and spend time with him as he did with his brother.

As the boys began school when they moved back to the US, Joel started a home business where he had the flexibility to care for his boys. When the Avileses decided to move again to Shanghai, Joel wanted to support his wife’s career in research for a multinational corporation. Once again, Joel immersed himself into the role of a 100% dad.

A typical day for Joel can be fixed and flexible. Fixed schedules include morning and evening routines, and school runs at the international school that his boys attend. There are also the organizing of playdates and sports activities. Once the boys are at school, Joel’s time is flexible where he goes on biking trips with his friends, does Pilates and runs the household.

In Shanghai, Guy Tai (www.guytai.ne) is a support group for trailing expat husbands and stay home dads where they meet regularly for social events. Joel and his family have made many close friends here and celebrated milestones together. As with every role in life, being a stay home dad comes with its challenges and rewards. Joel shares honestly that men don’t typically stay home to care for their children so being a 100% dad is a social construct he navigates daily.

However, the rewards override the challenges. The most fulfilling for Joel are the countless hours spent bonding with his boys - watching them grow and the shared memories they have. From their first ice-cream cone, first steps, to the way his son used to pronounce “woubie-fly” (butterfly). “This time with them can never be reversed,” Joel said.

My husband once told me this when I was a stay home mom, “Thank you for being home so I can work with a peace of mind knowing you are always there for the kids, when I can’t be.”