Men’s Work in a Kid’s Class

12 01 2011

Real short post today, as I’ve not much to write about, but I did want to share this little experience. I got an email this afternoon from my child’s class asking for volunteers among the parents to do things for their class play. I do try to be an active and involved parent and my schedule at the moment thankfully affords me the time to do so when needed. This past Fall, for example, I volunteered for every practice and meet for my daughter’s cross country team. I’m going to be helping with the set of the lower school play, in which my kid’s playing a Munchkin in the Wizard of Oz. I’m happy to give my time and labor when I can and would love to be involved more.

What keeps me from doing so is mostly how cliquish other parents can be and how awkward a guy is made to feel at these sorts of things. It’s not so bad if I can keep my head down and concentrate on a task, but any other time, there’s this crazy power struggle among the alpha moms there and, again for a guy, it takes on an almost absurd character and, make no mistake, we’re clearly not wanted. It’s as if, by being involved, we guys are intruding on their sacred realm. This is their territory and they are going to pee on every tree they can find. At the same time, I’ve got to imagine these very same people would love for their husbands to be more involved. See where I’m going here?

Now, I know that stay-at-home dads are still not mainstream, but I categorically refuse to respond to any email that begins with the line: “Hello ladies!!!” They can work on their own props/sets, which is probably how they want it anyway.

Child Care Limitations

11 08 2010

From the Department of Why-I’ll-Probably-Be-A-Stay-Home-Dad-For-A-While comes the 2010 report from the National Association of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, which includes such gems as:

Child Care Costs are High Compared to Household Expenses
• In every U.S. region, the average center-based child care fees for an infant exceeded the average annual amount that families spent on food. Center-based child care fees for an infant exceeded annual rent payments in 24 states.
• Center-based child care fees for two children (an infant and a 4-year-old) exceeded annual rent and mortgage payments in 18 states.
Child Care Costs are High Compared to College Costs
• In 40 states, the average annual cost for center-based care for an infant was higher than a year’s tuition and related fees at a four-year public college.

So, again, my work will be taking place in the very early mornings while they sleep and I’ll take the day-shift. It’s not an easy choice, but there are worse fates for sure and we really just can’t afford the centers we’ve looked at unless my income really was pretty substantial. It takes a bit of a toll on my feelings of self-worth at times. Ultimately, though, my problem isn’t really with the child care providers so much as it is with the economy in general. The recession is rough. Incomes need to be higher for everyone. That’s where the balance is supposed to be coming from but isn’t.