Allow me to introduce myself. My name is Burke and I’ve been married two years. I have six beautiful kids, Logan, 12, Laney, eleven, Shane, nine, Camden, six, Serena, five, and Burke who’s just shy of a year. I’m also a stay-at-home dad. (Thanks for not reading “deadbeat” at the end of that sentence!)
There are a lot of really good reasons to be a stay-at-home dad; guiding, leading, loving and leaving an indelible mark on my children to name just a few. The weird thing is, society often times, doesn’t see it that way. Many people assume I stay at home because I have to. You would not believe how many times I stand and watch, as people look me up and down, trying to discern my disability.
When I saw Rene on TV the other day, talking about Supermoms and stay-at-home moms, I reached out to her, wondering if she’d allow me to show the other side. She agreed, so I thought I’d make this real easy, on you and me too (I have six kids to care for, remember?). With that said, here’s what NOT to say (or do) when you see a Stay-at-Home Dad.
DON’T ASK WHAT I “DO” FOR A LIVING: If you can’t tell by the bags under my eyes or the permanent throw-up stains on my gray sweatshirt, then shame on you. I can spot a stay-at-home parent almost every time. You know why? Because they are almost always the most organized and efficient ones in the room, they HAVE to be. A lot of us also have a bit of gray peeking through. My kids think it’s hilarious when I tell them that comes from being a parent, not from being old.
DON’T THINK I’M NOT MASCULINE: Ha! That’s rich! It takes an incredibly strong sense of self and smell to be a stay-at-home dad (I still have a kid in diapers. ‘Nuff said). But I do find it ironic that we live in a society that, on the one hand, creates entire government public service campaigns geared toward getting men to be more active parents then frowns on those staying home and actually doing it. From past experience, I have seen social welfare programs offer everything from pamphlets to help lines to advocates, dedicated to helping a woman thrive as a stay-at-home-mom but will reduce or even drop benefits for a man who is doing the same thing. The message needs to change in the media too; I’ve never once seen a dad interviewed about what makes a successful, stay-at-home parent.
DON’T ASK, “WHERE’S THE MOTHER?” I once took my son to a new pediatrician. When the receptionist slid open the glass, she paused for a second, looked over my shoulder then asked me in all seriousness, where the mother of the child was. In my head, I was thinking, “Heck lady, a lot of times, “I” don’t even know where the mother is. But I know where the father is and he’s right here in front of you. He will also be the one to deal with the doctor, pay the bill and comfort the child screaming because of the necessary pain inflicted.”
DON’T LOOK THE OTHER WAY IF YOU SEE ME STRUGGLING! I’ve seen a lot of people hesitate then walk the other way when they see me in dire straits. I’m not anti-social or a bad guy. I won’t bite your head off if you pick up the bottle my baby dropped or grab my kid as he runs out the door. One day recently, I had doctor’s appointments for three kids (I told you I was efficient). While chasing Serena away from a nearby baby’s car seat, Camden slipped out of the office door and down the hall. Two people sitting near the door saw him but waited for me to be done with Serena and glance their way before bothering to tell me he’d left. Camden has ADHD and is on medication for it; if you have a child with the same diagnosis, you’re familiar with some of the things that go along with that. While I was appreciative that they told me he was gone, I was also dumbfounded that he could make it past so many other parents without someone stopping him.
Now that I’ve told you what NOT to do, here’s what you should do; ask for a tip. Or a recipe. Lucky for you, I’m gonna give you both. First, the tip and it’s what I consider to be one of the most important in parenting. Don’t be afraid to take time for yourself. If you have a spouse or partner take turns. Also, get your kids involved! Chores never killed anyone so ask your child to pitch in while you take a break somewhere peaceful. We are not just parents, but individuals and as such need or own identity and space.
Now, the recipe: I’m a pretty good cook, if I do say so myself and I can do it fast and with six children screaming simultaneously. I call this recipe Chicken Ala Almond.
Start by marinating boneless chicken breasts in Amaretto, if you’re just feeding adults or Almond paste and olive oil, if it’s for the kids too. Next, grill, broil or bake the breasts while reducing the marinade to a glaze, then pour the glaze on the breasts on a portion basis. I like to top mine with slivered almonds as well. Throw in some asparagus for side dish and you have a pretty easy crowd pleaser.
So there you go, food for your stomach and for thought the next time you see a stay-at-home dad. Thanks, Rene, for letting me tell my side and thanks everyone, for taking the time to read this. I gotta run (remember, I’m the guy with six kids!) because my work is never done. But I do love my job and can’t imagine doing anything else!
Burke is one of those guys who just loves being around his family. Just after greeting his fourth child, he realized he was better at running the household than running errands in an office. That’s when he and his wife decided to make Stay-at-Home dad an official part of his resume.