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In praise of stay-at-home dads (and one in particular)

Updated: Jun 17

A bride and a groom
June 17, 1990

Thirty-four years ago today, I married this wonderful man after falling in love with him in Japan and traveling through Asia for several weeks together. Today I celebrate how he has supported me and my career.

When we first got married, we decided I would work outside the home and he would try his hand as a writer. Five years later, I told him I wanted to start trying to have a baby. As I wrote in "Ten Reasons Mike is An Awesome Dad," I was the one who really wanted kids. He grew into the role after our NICU experience and years of infertility. And so began his 23 years as a stay-at-home dad to what would become our three amazing sons.

Just a few of the things I’m grateful for:

  • An extraordinary man tailor-made for me! Several years after we got married I found a list I wrote in college containing everything I wanted in a man. Mike possessed every one of those characteristics (e.g., spirituality, similar beliefs and values, close to his family, love of travel and adventure, and a great singing voice!).

Father and three boys all holding books
English majors creating readers!

  • Unconditional support of me and my career: Most important on that list, which supported everything else: SELF-CONFIDENCE. I wanted a man who appreciated a strong woman--those are extremely hard to find! For much of my management career, I traveled. He’d take me to/pick me up from the airport and keep the home fires burning, never complaining about my business trips. I also brought him and the kids along occasionally. When I asked about using $ we had saved up for travel and home improvement to start my own business, investing in a business coach, and taking a risk by working for free for an app startup, Mike was—and has continued to be—my biggest cheerleader! It means getting used to much less and more uneven income...and we swapped roles with having me work from home and him leaving the house to work.

A family with a view of Diamond Head, Hawaii
When we were added-on-to business trip to Hawaii
  • Our unconventional marriage: Not every man would feel comfortable being the household manager, primary cook, and carer of children for two decades. He knew everyone at the kids’ schools and managed all the kids’ school activities and appointments. He made their meals and cooked dinner for us every weeknight without complaint. We don't do enough in our society to support men making the choice to be the household managers/stay-at-home dads. So much of our pop culture talks about moms constantly as if they were the only parents to stay home.

Man doing kangaroo care in the NICU
Kangaroo care in the NICU
  • Same values and beliefs: We’ve been through quite a few trials in our 34 years: Mike’s dad dying suddenly 2 years after our wedding, Chris being born at 24 weeks and spending 117 up-and-down days in the NICU, four miscarriages, a surprise baby in our 40s, my ear/brain surgeries, and now caring for our aging parents. I’m incredibly grateful we can lean on each other and support each other through everything.

  • Modeling modern manhood: He married a feminist and activist, much to his extended family's dismay. Our sons have benefited tremendously from having a stay-at-home dad who is kind, extremely loving, sensitive, compassionate, warm, and caring. When he took on a regular job after I started my business, he became an extraordinary in-home caregiver. As a result, each one of our sons shares those characteristics and they love, value, and respect the women and nonbinary folks in their lives.

Dad with sons, roughhousing
The fun parent! Re-enacting the Indiana Jones Stunt Spectacular with the kids
  • Creating a fun, high-energy family: Last night I affectionately said our family was “weird.” (And I see in this post that middle son Kieran called himself weird at age 10!) We’ve been called loud, have constant banter and silliness, tease each other and joke nonstop, are prone to dramatic exaggeration, and are high energy, social, and positive. Our kids are the perfect conglomeration of both of our personalities. What’s unique about our family is that none of us are wallflowers. We have created a family of spirited individuals, and although it’s loud sometimes, I love it. The banter, teasing, joking, exaggeration, and storytelling, I credit to Mike’s leadership.

Family in Santa Monica
In Santa Monica, CA several years ago

I could not have accomplished half of what I’ve done in my career without Mike’s ongoing, abiding support. What is your organization doing to foster and support stay-at-home dads?

Thank you from the bottom of my heart, my darling groom! I never get tired of spending time with you.

Man and three boys singing and dancing
ABBA dance party for Mike's birthday this year

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