Being a Single (And formerly a Stay At Home) Father

This topic is going to be a little funky because I’m bouncing between two similar, but different, topics.  I’ve been in both boats and felt like talking about them since they’ve been heavy on my mind.  This might be a challenge because I don’t want to rant about the divorce and fallout.  Now, what are the two roles?

Stay At Home Dad

I was this from late 2012 until late 2018.  The trigger was that my son had been diagnosed as special needs and was heading into Pre-K.  I could only find temp work at the time, so my wife (now ex-wife) and agreed on me staying home.  She had a job and I pursued writing while taking care of our son.  It was a really different first year too because he was sick nearly every week.  His tantrums were bad and a few of them lasted for hours, so I was more father than author.  That’s as it should be.  I managed to counter this since the first 3 books of Legends of Windemere had already been written long before 2012.

Anyway, this was my life for a while.  I took care of my son, ran errands, cooked, cleaned, and held down the house to counter me not making a lot of money.  It was fun and rewarding, but there was some awkwardness.  Play dates were hard because it was usually the mothers.  Most times I’d be able to chat, but there’s still something off with people when it’s the father being spoken too.  I remember getting odd looks from older people in public as well.  Taking my son food shopping during a time when I ‘should be working’ definitely didn’t sit well with a few strangers.  Was a problem for people I knew as well, but I tried to shrug it off.

Have to admit that being a Stay at Home father was much more challenging than being an author.  Yet, I couldn’t complain because it meant I created important bonds with my son that I wouldn’t have if I wasn’t around that much.  I do wish I got a little more time to myself, but we always want that in retrospect.  I wouldn’t trade all the moments I had with my son for anything, especially since I’m not with him every day.

Single Father

This is still an odd thing to consider myself to be.  I’ve come to accept it more, but it still hurts on the days that he isn’t with me.  After spending about 6 years being with my son every day, I’m used to having my little shadow around.  That’s really the biggest difference between the two roles.  As a Stay At Home, I was with my soon all the time.  Being single means I’m working and he’s with his mom at times, so there is no longer unlimited access to my own child.  This is probably more for divorced fathers though.  I do know of many that are fine not being around their kids because child-rearing is ‘women’s work’, but that’s not me at all.  I cherished my time with my son and I think it made me stronger as a father and human being.

Unlike before, I no longer have a partner to help me out too.  My parents are here to lend a hand when I need it, but I don’t want to depend on them too much here.  This means I don’t get to have much of a social life.  Some days, I’m okay with this, but there are times when I have to bow out of things and feel a little lonely.  This is probably more that I still have that sense of being cast aside though.  My friends do understand that I can’t always go out, which is good.  One day, my son will be old enough to take care of himself or to come along for the fun.

The more I write about this, the more I realize the difference really comes down to how one prioritizes.  As a Stay At Home with a spouse, I had more flexibility and someone who could take pressure off.  As a Single Father, I have to put my son and job ahead of nearly everything else.  Writing can’t be done on a whim because I have responsibilities and am no longer home while he’s at school.  Nights are used for preparing for the next day and resting up.  Definitely feels like there’s a lot more pressure on me than when I was a Stay At Home.  Keep in mind that this is all personal opinion.

Now, I know I’m talking about fathers here, but 98% of this can go for mothers in the same positions.  The only reason I’m not going to say 100% is that I really do think fathers have to work harder to create bonds with their children.  Mothers tend to have a natural connection with their children regardless of the time they spend or even the treatment that they bestow.  Maybe human babies imprint in some fashion and that’s typically with the mother?  I really wish I could explain this, but it does cross a line into a personal realm that isn’t right to discuss in public.  Again, my opinion here, so others might see things differently.

So, what do other people think of Stay At Home and/or Single Fathers?

About Charles Yallowitz

Charles E. Yallowitz was born, raised, and educated in New York. Then he spent a few years in Florida, realized his fear of alligators, and moved back to the Empire State. When he isn't working hard on his epic fantasy stories, Charles can be found cooking or going on whatever adventure his son has planned for the day. 'Legends of Windemere' is his first series, but it certainly won't be his last.
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15 Responses to Being a Single (And formerly a Stay At Home) Father

  1. I think it’s a shame that every kid can’t have one parent who stays home with them. Things are too hard financially for that to happen much in 2019. Those of us who grew up in a different era benefitted greatly from having a stay at home parent.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. L. Marie says:

    First, thank you for the courage to keep it real on your blog, even when doing so is very difficult. Second, a good friend of mine is a stay at home dad. He’s had to face the judgmental attitudes of others who look at him like, “Why aren’t you at work?” It’s easy to judge or make assumptions about other people “should” be doing. My friend is a great dad and his sons have truly benefited from his being there with them. It’s hard though (as you know), whether you are male or female, being a stay at home parent. I have nothing but accolades for parents.

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  3. I took a year off from work to be a stay at home dad for our daughter’s first grade. My wife worked and I was the mom. I walked her to school every day and was involved in her activities. I would not trade that time for anything.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Renee says:

    I used to be a nanny for a single dad (his wife died of cancer). He worked all kinds of crazy hours, yet still gave his kids so much of his time. And he cooked too. He was a health food fanatic (and he taught me a lot about eating healthy). Even though it was a single-parent home, it was the most loving family experience I’d ever had in my life. I will always remember it as the time that I learned what a healthy, loving family is supposed to look like.

    I’ve also known stay at home dads, where the mom went out to work, and it was very much the same.

    So from my experience single/stay at home dads are great! I have a lot of respect for men who can take on that role successfully.

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  5. Staci Troilo says:

    Well, moms do get an extra nine months’ head start, so maybe we do bond faster with our kids. To me, the fact that you worry about it tells me you’re doing the right thing. It may not be easy, but it’s important. In the end, I have to believe any issues will work themselves out. (And don’t forget, you’re still new to being a single dad. Give it time.)

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  6. Every family makes the decision that’s right for them, but I have to say being the at-home dad is not as weird as it seems. Our good friend stayed home while his wife worked, because she made so much more than he did. On the other hand, I stayed home for a few years because day care for two kids was more than our mortgage. I had been working, but I made less, so my income was sacrificed. Both families did what made economic sense.

    Speaking of economics, you might look into your district’s pay policies and see if you are able to put aside money from your paychecks that will allow you to have summers off. It could be one way to carve out some time for writing. My district wouldn’t let me do that until I had a full day, permanent position. Even so, I usually start a “summer writing project” every year because I’m able to split my pay that way.

    Being a single dad isn’t that unusual, either, although many families have it set up so that dad only has kids on the weekend. It sounds like your situation isn’t as clear-cut. Still, it’s weird and kind of silly how people will pass judgment on others. Like, life is a sport and they have to score points? Ugh, who cares about that!

    Anyway, if you ever spot an ad for a Dads-and-Kids event, I think you should take your son if it’s within what his special needs will tolerate. You will see that you’re not alone. Maybe you’ll meet some other single dads who can get together for play dates?

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