By: Manuel A. Palad, Jr.
My wife, Cristina, and I were blessed with our daughter, Beatrice, after 5 years of marriage. Tina had difficulties during her pregnancy and later on had pre-eclampsia. Sadly, the hypertension did not go away even after she had given birth. In order to relieve some pressure from my wife while she was recovering, I had to step up and take care of our baby, in between doing consultancy work for an agricultural company. I realized that taking care of a baby was no joke. The first three months was still manageable since my wife was still on maternity leave and was at home to take care of Beatrice. However, reality sunk in when Tina reported back for work and I was left alone with a baby, a dozen feeding bottles, and a ton of diapers to change.
Did I choose to be a stay-at-home dad? I guess I did, given the circumstances. We prayed so hard to have Beatrice in our lives, that staying home to take care of her was my way of giving back, for the blessing that was given us.
Almost immediately, I realized that being a stay-at-home dad was serious business and that nurturing a child needed physical strength and endurance! It wasn’t easy, especially for me who is quite obsessive compulsive and likes to be VERY hands-on.
From the time Beatrice wakes up in the morning, until her mom arrives from the office at night, I’m doing my fatherly duties. I do all the chores and take care of Beatrice, as we chose not to have a yaya or house help. I cook, buy the groceries, take her to and from school, and even do the budgeting! When she naps, I steal some time to do some consultancy work. I am also in charge of taking her to acting workshops and things like enrolling her at school. I’m also the kind of dad who asks the teacher about what lesson will be taught in class for the day. I’m like a stage father.
My wife actually feels envious of me sometimes. She’s pretty amazed at how I can provide all the needs of our daughter, on a per minute basis. From memorizing the time and TV channel of the shows that Beatrice loves to watch, to the toys that will pacify her during her tantrums.
I’m fully committed to my role that I can safely say that I even became “maternal” at a certain point. I knew that I needed to have that “mother’s instinct” to understand why my baby is crying, when she is sleepy, especially during Beatrice’s very early years when she had very limited vocabulary.
In order to do my “job” well, I find that discipline is critical—everything should be planned out, executed on time, with very limited variation so that no disruption of routine will take place. I find that being predictable circumvents tantrums.
Yes, things can get very demanding. But I don’t necessarily look at my job as difficult, because I really want to serve my family wholeheartedly. Except for when it comes to doing Beatrice’s hair. The ponytails! Beatrice can only have her hair done neatly when her mommy is around.
The big pay-off to being a stay-at-home dad is that I am present every single day of my child’s life. I never miss a thing. I find comfort at the thought of growing old and carrying with me lots of memories of my daughter, and her having lots of happy memories of me. I feel secure that Beatrice knows I will always love her and I will always have TIME for her. To have given her the gift of my time as father, as a parent, is a truly precious thing to impart to my daughter.
Our society dictates that the father should work and the mother should be in charge of child rearing. So, I know some people wonder if I ever feel emasculated, being the primary care provider of my daughter. To be honest, I love my job! I love being a stay-at-home dad. I think they’re missing a lot… the bonding time alone is very precious. We really don’t mind what others have to say about our setup. We have weighed the advantages of our situation and for us, as long as we are healthy and happy, we are okay.
While being a stay-at-home dad is very rewarding, and I can actually see myself doing this for a very long time, it may not be for everyone. In my opinion, if you are a homebody, loves to be with family than with friends, does not dream for a corporate career, can support your wife who wants to have a career, has the patience to pacify a wailing child, can cook and do laundry, then yes, you can be a stay-at-home dad.
But in any case, stay-at-home father or not, stay-at-home mother or not, just remember that time flies by so fast. You will wake up one day and your baby is grown up and is ready to leave you. So please, make time. Make time to be with your children. It’s the best way to show them that you love them.
What my day usually looks like:
6:30 am – I wake up
7:00 am – I wake Beatrice and give her her breakfast
8:00 am – give her vitamins and milk
8:30 am – her bath time
9:00 am – dress her for school
9:15 am – prepare her school snack
9:30 am – school service picks her up/sometimes I bring her to school
10:00 am – I cook and eat
12:30 pm – prepare lunch for Beatrice
12:40 pm – Beatrice arrives from school, we talk about what she did in school
12:45 pm – change her clothes
12:50 pm – serve her lunch
1:30 pm – wash the dishes, while Beatrice plays
2:00 pm – send Beatrice to bed for an afternoon nap
4:30 pm – Beatrice wakes up and snack time
5:00 pm – play time with Beatrice
6:30 pm – prepare dinner
7:00 pm – Beatrice eats her dinner, Tina arrives from work
7:30 pm – I eat dinner
8:00 pm – I wash the dishes
8:30 pm – Time to relax! I usually watch TV
Photos: Manuel A. Palad, Jr.
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