Dads Don’t Want to Leave Home Either
~By Alan Kercinik, Always Jacked
When women talk and write about parenting, they are all over the Sophie’s Choice between motherhood and their careers. I work with and know a ton of women who fret over this. About balance and feeling like they aren’t doing either job very well, how even when they’re at work they still have to somehow do most of the caring for their kids.
I was IM’ing with a friend of mine a week ago. He’s a relatively new dad who travels a lot for his job, and he mentioned that it was hard for him to leave the house now that his baby is getting old enough to do more than give him the stink-eye. As we went back and forth, it struck me how infrequently men seem to have this conversation.
A couple of years ago, I learned about a guy in the advertising industry. He had done what men are still expected to do. He climbed the ladder. He was promoted to the top of an advertising holding company. He ruled an empire. After ruling it for about a year, spending most of his time on the road, he decided to step down and spend more time with his family.
Naturally, this guy received all kinds of applause and love for his difficult decision.
Instead, there was an abundance of gossip-fueled, piece-of-crap “journalism” about how the guy couldn’t hack the job and how the whole family thing was just an excuse.
This is why men need to talk more about how hard it is to leave their kids and the fact that they miss their families. Because if a high-ranking woman had made this kind of decision, no one would have blinked. But if a man does it, he is somehow less of a man.
I’m calling bullshit, right here.
Maybe men are less willing — or less able — to talk openly about the challenges related to balancing work and family. Maybe doing so makes us sound weak. Or maybe, despite more men staying at home with their kids, we still feel like we don’t have a choice but to leave.
Business. Government. Society. They don’t really care, for the most part, if you have a happy and balanced family life. If you find a way to spend time with your kids or not. And you don’t need to look at the statistics about the number of male vs. female CEOs or the number of women in Congress to know that a lot of this general attitude is coming from men.
I changed jobs this month and the amount of travel at my last job was a huge factor in my decision. When every night your 3-year-old son asks you, “Dad, are you sleeping over tonight?” you know that you’re gone too much.
The thing is, I liked the work I was doing. Loved the people I was doing it with. But those people aren’t with me when I have to explain to my kid why I have to get on a plane again. They aren’t there to pick up the kid-watching slack for my wife so she can get out of the house and have five minutes to herself without hearing the question, “Why, Mom?”
I don’t say this as any kind of “Look what a great dad I am.” Fact is, I felt like I wasn’t doing that job very well at all over the past year. I was doing more writing and talking about being a dad than actually being one.
My dad’s schedule didn’t allow him to come to my plays in school or most of my little league games. He worked overtime and on weekends and, for one lengthy stretch when I was in sixth grade, in another city. I know that what he did, though, he did to provide for us.
So I could have kept at it. One day, my boys would realize that the travel and the long hours would have been as much for them as they were for me. But right now I just don’t think that “some day” is good enough.
[Photo credit: Kolcraft]