My name is Elroy, and I’m a House Husband.
That’s not my confession though.
A few months ago I lost my job. It was a pretty typical office-type job. I’d been there almost 19 years, and though I’d held many positions within the company during that time, each day was pretty much the same. Wake up, take the kids to school, go to work, grab coffee, then do officy things till quitting time. Officy things included numbers, and papers, and more numbers. I’ll always remember the numbers. Numbers so large and so small, that they only make sense to other officy people. Some days were longer than others, but in general it was a pretty typical mouse-in-the-wheel type grind.
I hated it.
That’s also not my confession.
To say that I hated it is probably stronger than necessary. I enjoyed most days, and I loved the people that I worked with, but for many, many years, I just didn’t get the purpose of what we were doing. I mean, I understood what *I* was doing. I was working to earn money so that I could support my family. What I didn’t understand was what *we* as a company were doing. We were making money. The weird thing about making money is that there’s no physical product at the end of the day. There was lots of work, but no tangible result. If we weren’t making money, our stress levels increased, our days got longer, and we saw our families less. I still had a paycheck, though, so I thought that I was supporting my family.
Then that went away.
It’s a strange thing to lose your job. For me, it was both blessing and curse. The curse, of course, was the loss of a steady income. The blessing was a change in outlook.
I’ve always wanted to work for myself. Be my own boss, make my own rules, and so on. My wife and I have always wanted a small farm. After my job loss, my wife and I discussed options. I had a bit of a severance package that would get us through the summer, so we decided that I’d take a couple of months off. I’d worked 19 years; it wouldn’t hurt to take some time for myself. I could work on some personal projects, and start planning the farm business. And so, I became a House Husband.
Here’s my confession. People don’t like House Husbands.
In the past couple of months I’ve heard many iterations and variations of “*Gasp* You’re not working??”, or “Y’know, Acme Company is hiring, I’d bet you could get a job there,” or “The longer you’re out of work, the worse your resume will be.”
These people mean well. I understand their world view. Traditionally husbands work. That’s just what they do. Wives work too, if they want, but a non-working husband is somehow…wrong. You can see it in the eyes of the well-meaning. They are talking to you, passing along advice, but mentally they are trying to figure out if you’re a deadbeat, lazy, or just plain worthless. They can’t understand that a man can be a homemaker too, and furthermore, actually enjoy it. I enjoy taking my kids to school. I enjoy having time to work on my projects. I enjoy cleaning the house, and getting supper ready. I enjoy the fact that I don’t need to ask another person for permission to take a day off to run errands. I can just take care of things. If a kid is sick and needs to be picked up, I’m there. Groceries need to be shopped for? I’m there. Car needs servicing? Yep, I’m there. I can, you know, support my family.
But wait? You’re not working? That’s not support. What does your wife think of this?
My wife is busy. She’s working two jobs, and volunteering at a local organization. She’s not home much. And you know what? She’s okay with me being a House Husband. She knows that I’m now available to take care of the things that she’s not available to do. She knows that she can rely on me to get things done that need to be done. She knows that when I’m not doing household things, that I’m working on planning our farm, and starting my own business. She’s okay with our situation.
Others are not.
So why this confession?
This confession is for those people who don’t understand, and also a bit for myself, as the non-understanding people sometimes cause me to doubt my family’s choice. Society has pigeonholed the homemaker. It’s an unwritten rule that the person staying home should be a woman, while the man should work every day to bring home some money. You know what, though? It’s okay that I’m a House Husband. If roles were reversed, and my wife was home while I was working, it seems that society would be happy and balanced. People are used to housewives. It’s strange that stay-at-home dads are looked upon as something…otherworldly. We’re not slackers, or broken, or deadbeats, we just have a different job; a job that pays in a different way. I’m still college-educated. I’m still supporting my family. I’m still a hard worker. I’m just like a housewife, except, well, I have man-bits.
Yes, my name is Elroy, and I’m a House Husband.