If not me, then who?
It was International Women’s Day this week and I don’t want to introduce you to a female. Let me introduce you to Danny: Husband, father, engineer, entrepreneur, handyman, Nerf gun shooter, playdoh specialist, indoor hockey pro, fort builder, imagination creation man. What you see here is the cartoon version of him (or per Danny: the chiseled jawline version of him 😉). I created this idea of Danny, or rather this book, because I wanted to show the world that a stay-at-home dad is a real job. I hoped to challenge the gender bias that a man has to go to work and a woman has to stay at home with the children. Change doesn’t happen if we continue to do things the way we have always done them, so I knew I needed to take a step towards breaking the bias.
Being different isn’t easy, but it brought about the frustrations that moved me to take action. I had just returned from maternity leave and was asked how my vacation was. I had just received a promotion and still the question, “When will you leave the workforce to stay home with your child?”, seemed to poke itself into daily conversation. My husband and I had decided that what was best for our family, was for him to stay at home and raise our boys. So often I still hear the statement, “I can’t believe you trust your husband to stay at home with your kids.”.
Do you see where my frustration was rooted? Do you see why I left so many business conversations wanting to rip the hair out of my head? But being angry, frustrated, or festering on a problem just isn’t my style. I needed a solution. I can't (and wouldn’t!) just sit around and wait for someone else to bring about change. I decided to embark on what is probably going to be a lifelong journey to ensure no woman has to hear those types of questions or statements again.
How do you show the world that women can still be great and loving mothers even though they have a successful career? How do you do that while still uplifting the women who take on the most difficult role ever, a stay-at-home mom? How do you simultaneously teach others that if a woman does not want to get married or have children that is her prerogative? How do you teach women not to use the terms “babysit” or “watch” when referring to their husbands taking care of their children for a few hours? How do you remove the gender stereotype that it has to be a woman who stays home with the children and not the man?
The answer to those questions is: I have absolutely no idea. But every single day I do my best to make an effort to support working women, to show them they can have a fulfilling career and a big whacky family at home. I strive to communicate the message that wives find their husbands so damn sexy when they are good fathers to their children. Taking care of your children should not be a chore, it is a privilege. It is not a role that should be relegated to women. I wake up each day so grateful that my two little goofballs are mine. Do they drive me bananas? Absolutely, but I love every ounce of them. So what does it matter who stays home with them as long as they are safe and loved? I argue it doesn’t.
Many of you might be cringing that I put up the face of a man while we are clearly here to celebrate women. I’m not doing this to take away from this celebration, but rather because I believe that it is the effort of men and women working together to break these biases. I know that my success as a businesswoman would not be possible without the love and support of the man in this picture. That is why I believe that we, as women, cannot bring about change alone. It will not happen if we shut men out, put them down, or pit ourselves against them. I will continue to do my best to be a successful businesswoman, loving wife, and caring mother, and I will choose to take a step each day towards supporting the many women (and men!) in my life that I am proud of. I will choose to be the change I want to see. If not me, then who?
If you enjoy my blog, please consider purchasing a children’s book to give back to working moms: A Stay-at-Home Dad?