Don't Set Yourself Up For Disaster—Like I Did
I've talked with other working moms married to stay-at-home dads, and most of them reported that they receive tons of positive feedback about their situation, especially from other women who understand the trials of being a stay-at-home parent. I have learned from them that the key to fending off negative comments is to be prepared with a good answer for the following questions: "What does your husband do for a living?" and "Who watches your kids while you're at work?"
A good response to either question is: "My husband and I both agreed that we did not want to send our child(ren) to daycare and we felt it was important to have at least one parent staying at home to raise our child(ren). It has been the best decision for our family, and he does a great job." This is such a successful response because it not only answers the question asked, but also gives the strong reasons why you came to this conclusion. People will not give you a hard time with this answer.
A bad response, which I unknowingly gave to my co-workers, is: "My husband stays at home with my daughter because he got laid off a month before she was born." This response implies that it was not your husband's choice to stay home with your child(ren); therefore, he is not a very good stay-at-home parent. You are setting yourself up for disaster with a bad response, so get ready for the "Mr. Mom" (who was quite incompetent in the movie) jokes and the follow-up question, "So, when is he going to find another job?"—which implies that being a stay-at-home-dad is not a "real job." When responding poorly, not only do you set yourself up for the wisecracks and negative comments but also for the guilt you will suffer later.
A bad response will eat you up inside for not having the courage to stand up for your family's decision. It may also pressure you to encourage your husband to seek another money-paying job just so you will not have to hear negative comments from your co-workers and family (even if that means sending your child(ren) to daycare).
Is It Better Than if I'd Stayed Home Instead?
Like any other job, you must truly enjoy and love what you do. If you are going to mope around the house wishing you were in a board meeting, then you will not be happy or do well as a stay-at-home parent. Personally, I need the balance of work and home to make me a better wife and mother. Working outside the home gives my life more structure. If I stayed home all day, I would not have a clue how to organize my time. This knowledge also contributed to our decision that my husband would stay at home. Choosing what will work best for both parents is key in deciding which parent will have the stay-at-home job.
I went back to work when Chloe was 10 weeks old. Everyone at my work asked me, "Don't you miss your baby? Aren't you worried about her?" Of course I missed her, but as for being worried about her, no way. She's with the best person who loves her just as much as I do: her Daddy.