Why Stay at Home Moms Need Stay at Home Dad Friends

Why Stay at Home Moms Need Stay at Home Dad Friends | Houston Moms Blog

I remember with perfect clarity the moment I realized every stay at home mom needs a stay at home dad friend.

I was hanging out with two stay at home moms I’d just met, both trained in early childhood education {I, for the record, have no such training}. In the way of all moms killing time at an indoor play center full of snotty noses and shrieks of joy, discussion turned to how we spend the day while our spouses are off at work. They began to outline in near perfect unison the surfeit of educational activities they practice with their children to prep them for pre-school. Pre-schools, I’d like to add, they’d already researched and applied for. 

I gotta admit, I felt a surge of sheer, unadulterated panic. You see, at this point my husband and I weren’t sure we were even sending our {at this point 15 month-old} son to preschool, let alone done any prepping for it. I nodded along, praying that the panic I felt didn’t show. Panic that only rose when my new friends turned to me and asked if we’d begun practicing the alphabet or played any color sorting games.

Color what? Sorting? I had no clue what they were talking about. 

Though I would have preferred to hide my parental shame, the guilty look on my face gave me away. They both assured me that it wasn’t too late – that I could still get him caught up.

I remember driving home and weeping, feeling like a complete and utter failure. I was at home with him all day; why had I neglected his education? Sure I played games with him and generally made sure he wasn’t maimed throughout the long hours before my husband got home from work, but what a terrible mother must I be to have completely neglected my one-year-old son’s education.

The moment I put him down for a nap I dove for my computer, Googling how much damage I had done. I poured through Pinterest for early education activities and printables I could use to right the terrible mistake I’d made. And when I couldn’t reach my husband at work, I called one of my closest friends for help. He was one of the few friends from my carefree early 20’s who had also ventured into the world of parenthood, and, like me, a stay at home parent. With him I could be honest in the way I simply couldn’t with a group of moms I’d only just gotten to know, and with whom the only tentative connection we had rested in the shared ages of our offspring. I don’t think I even remembered to say hello before I blurted out the question, “Do you practice color sorting?”

“What the heck is color sorting?” he asked me, “and why do I need to do it?”

I can’t tell you what a relief it was to hear those words come out of his mouth. I explained my earlier encounter with the good moms – the mothers who hadn’t neglected their children’s educational needs as I had – and all the activities they did to enrich their babies’ lives.

“Do you do any of those things?” I asked.

He snorted.

“No, Lauren. I play with my kid.”

And as far as he was concerned, that was the end of it. This is not to say he didn’t ensure his daughter was learning new things every day. He told me tried to always count the number of snacks he gave her to expose her to numbers, and pointed out the blue sky or the red apple to teach her the different colors; but no, he definitely didn’t spend hours and hours researching educational exercises for his 18 month-old daughter. And he certainly didn’t beat himself up over the fact that he didn’t do these things either. 

Since that day we have had several conversations about our parental expectations. He once jokingly said, “As long as I keep my daughter alive, everyone thinks I am the world’s best stay at home dad”. They think it’s endearing when his daughter wears the mismatch clothes, and chuckle when she eats ice cream for lunch.

Let me tell you, this has absolutely not been my experience. I remember a well-meaning girlfriend once laughed and told me to buy my son a few T-shirts they didn’t have Paw Patrol or dinosaurs on them. “Something a little more put together, am I right?” And Lord forgive me if I choose to buy my son the fried chicken nuggets at Chick-fil-A and not the grilled ones. I mean, come on Lauren, pull it together.

The expectation for stay at home moms {and let’s face it, mothers in general} are so high. I’m not entirely sure where these expectations come from – whether it’s society, other women, or if the real culprit is, in fact, ourselves. But what I’ve learned is this – stay at home dads do not feel these same pressures.

Now let me be clear about something:: my friend is an fantastic dad. He’s attentive, he makes sure his daughter is healthy, happy, and yes, learning every day. He takes her to gymnastics class and has even learned to do her hair {albeit not as well as his wife}. And he does all this without beating himself up every single day about all the things he’s failing at as a parent.

I doubt he knows this, but whenever I need a bit of a reality check about stay at home parenting, he’s my go-to. Talking with him is a reminder that, sure, it’s great to practice letters and color sorting and counting games, and all the other thousands of little things our kids need to know. But the most important thing is that I keep my children safe and happy. My sons know how much I love them and that I’d do anything to ensure they have a good life. And with that, my job as a stay at home parent is fulfilled.

So for all you stay at home moms out there up late Pinterest-ing and Google-ing ways to be a better parent, let me give you this one piece of advice – get yo’ self a stay at home dad friend. 


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