To summarise part one – took a break, unsuccessful job search, looked at business opportunities, went back to school.
I haven’t had the normal sort of impetus – like food and shelter – to get back to work as soon as possible. Despite two years of me being unemployed, financially the family is fine. When I finished at my last job the mortgage had already been paid off, we had no debt, and the bank balance was healthy. The situation has not changed, and we live reasonably comfortably on my wife’s wage.
The fairly logical and unrushed journey I’ve been able to take in working out what to do next in my career has been a relatively fortuitous luxury not afforded to most.
By taking primary responsibility for the kids, my wife was able to change jobs twice and rejuvenate her career. I am better at cooking, cleaning, washing, shopping and time management than my wife, so the house is better organised and runs smoother.
My wife has a pathological need to have our kids lives filled with organised activities – aside school five days a week there is soccer training and matches, swimming, karate, athletics, roller-skating lessons, Sunday school and professional appointments for our daughter. Since not working it has been a lot less stressful for us all trying to meet my wife’s overfull and complicated scheduling.
I am better at dealing with our daughter – who is on the high functioning end of the Autism spectrum. Over the last two years we have been able to work with her Paediatrician, Psychologist, Speech Therapist and Teachers to better understand her, and have got her out of control tantrums from happening 15 to 25 days a month down to 3 or 4.
It is not all happy days though.
My wife is supportive – almost always, mostly, sort of. For much of the first year she was keen on me not working as it made it much easier with her job changes. She understands the journey I have gone through, the decisions I have made, and says it all makes sense to her. On the surface I have a great deal to be thankful for.
But – my wife avoids confrontation like the plague and is passive aggressive. The occasional jibe, under breath utterance, and attitude shift suggests she isn’t entirely happy. She expresses annoyance at not being able to spend as much money on the things she wants – travel and entertainment. She jealously remarks on how she would love to be the stay at home parent – while indicating she wouldn’t make anywhere near the effort I do or wangle the kids half as well, so I’d be expected to still cover off lots of that stuff. I’m left with the underlying impression that while she is thankful and happy with my contributions, she thinks a little less of me, and if she was to be completely honest, she would prefer I do all that I do – and earn a good wage at the same time. She would like to have her cake, and eat it too.
My wife and I have always been very good at making long term plans. We haven’t really been able to since not knowing where my career will go.
Personally, I have found it very hard to quantify my self-worth in the Stay at Home Dad role. A monthly salary was an easily defined contribution to the family. A male keeping the house orderly, the fridge full, the kids in clean clothes, putting a hot meal on the table as your wife walks in through the door – society either assumes I am not doing it, or it is dismissed.
We likely both sound ungrateful – but understanding and meeting your own, your families, and societies expectations in this area has been trickier than expected.
So back to concise context – not working has left me busier than before, there have been real benefits for my family, but it has been tricky to navigate, and leaves aspects of life on hold.
So that is life out of game. Now back to the normal sporadic updates.