Escaping the Middle-Class Parenting Trap
What one stay-at-home-dad (SAHD) and his family are doing to create a better long-term work-family balance, with all the trade-offs and sacrifices this entails.
A few months ago, Oren Miller wrote the following on his excellent blog, A Father and a Blogger. He was nice enough to let me repost it here, and even provided a short follow up to the article. He’s a great writer, and a good fellow-dad-blogger friend. Enjoy:
Escaping the Middle-Class Parenting Trap
Guest blogger Oren MIller shares his work-life story
Our family is going through some difficult changes now.
To escape our ironic lifestyle, to be able to see her kids more than a tired hour per day, my wife has found a new job. This job will allow her to work from home a lot, which is the good part. The bad part is that there will probably be a lot of travel, too. And the worst part is that now, because it’s a new job, she must leave home and travel to the end of the world (Seattle), and stay there for a couple of weeks (then return to Baltimore for a week, then again to Seattle for even longer).
It’s not going to be easy for me, it’s not going to be easy for the kids, and it’s definitely not going to be easy for my wife, who will have to settle for Skype to see her kids.
But it’s worth it.
It’s worth it because we must escape this terrible contradictory, ironic life. The idea of being with the kids and NOT being exhausted is something I experience every few days, but it’s something she knows nothing about.
For 4+ years, she had woken up, rushed to work, and come home just in time to make dinner (after a day at work, she now faced a tired husband demanding a break and tired children who needed to sleep but didn’t know it). Then she cleaned up the kitchen, and went to bed, falling asleep less than an hour later. And when people mentioned women who “had it all,” they were talking about her. She had a great job, great kids, a beautiful husband, and a new Prius V. She had it all, alright.
And that’s the sad irony of the middle class. Being constantly tired, spending a couple of hours driving to and from work, seeing kids an hour a day at their worst and at her worst is not even considered settling. It’s the good life, because we could spend time on the weekends, and because we could travel as a family once a year.
Only it’s not the good life. It’s the middle-class trap, and it’s something we should escape from or we’ll sink into the same old tired routine that will end up destroying us.
Two weeks in Seattle is a small price to pay. Constant travel later in the year is nothing, compared to the benefits of being able to spend weeks together as a family.
It’s hard, and my wife is a little depressed after two days in Seattle. This post is for you, Honey. I know it’s hard, but you’re pulling us out of the middle-class trap. You’re our hero.
Well, the two weeks in Seattle turned out to be two weeks in Seattle, three weeks in California, a week in Georgia, a week in London, Canada, Hawaii… It’s a start-up, and by definition, no one knows exactly what to expect and how fast the company would grow. It hasn’t been easy, and it has probably been even worse because we didn’t know what was coming.
But in the end, despite the constant travel and the Parenthood-by-Facetime, and despite the toll it all brings to the kids, to our relationship, and to my wife as a mom, a partner (in a single-income family), and a driven person facing pressure from every possible direction, I still believe this was the right thing to do. It’s not easy to escape the 9 to 5, and everyone needs to sacrifice something along the way, but the result will ultimately, finally, hopefully make sense.
There is a goal at the end: a lifestyle that allows my wife to be there for her kids and for her husband while reaching her potential as an individual. We’ll get there. Our good-old-days are ahead.
Thank you for sharing, Oren- and good luck to you and your family in figuring it all out. We all struggle and we know it is not easy.
What experience do you have in managing your family when one spouse has demanding work that requires travel? Any ideas or struggles to share? Let’s discuss in the comments section.
Oren Miller moved from Israel to London to Baltimore. He is now a stay-at-home-dad, living with his wife, two kids, and an 18-year-old Pit Bull. He has been featured on The Huffington Post, Redbook, The Good Men Project, CNN’s Raising America, the Parenting Gag Reel book, Mamapedia, and The Baltimore Sun. He writes the blog, A Father and a Blogger.
One last note about Oren- he is the most generous blogger I know. In addition to his own great content, one of the main features of his blog is highlighting the work of fellow dad bloggers. Oren also created a great facebook group for dad bloggers of which I am proud to be a part and from which I have benefitted greatly.
Sharing Experiences is a series of articles written by dads about their work-life experiences. These are shared in the hopes of generating conversation, sparking ideas, and letting dads know they are not alone in their work-family struggles. For more of these stories, click on the category link on the right-hand side of your screen.