For me, being a better man means improving my communication, patience, and understanding. I also look to have humility, confidence, and poise. However, life as a stay at home dad can also conflict with many of the habits that I work to exemplify. For example, I have to continually remind myself that being a financial provider doesn’t shape my manhood. Each day, I learn more and more that money has nothing to do with my strength. Below, I explain how providing my kids with love and affection has altered who I see in the mirror.
Before we moved to Abu Dhabi, I was a teacher, tutor, and Uber driver. Receiving two to three paychecks per month felt natural to me because I have rarely worked only one job at a time.
- Student, student researcher, and Sprint salesman
- Computer instructor, after-school instructor, and animation student
- Real estate marketing assistant, SEO specialist (mostly for myself), and novelist
I still write books, but for 0-3 hours per day. When I took the job more seriously, I wrote and edited my work for 5-10 hours each night. Now, I’m “just” a stay at home dad, and I don’t always feel like I’m becoming a better man.
Being at home with the kids makes me feel stagnant. More often than not, this is because I feel an invisible pressure to bring home the bacon. In my head, I can hear old black folks talking about how they put food on the table every day.
I also have another problem: I’m bored. Life as a toddler tamer isn’t fulfilling for me because I don’t think that being a stay at home parent is very noble. It is selfish and self-centered.
Being a firefighter, police officer, or teacher is much more challenging. You have to give your heart, mind, and soul to other people. These professions require a level of sacrifice for someone that has no blood connection to you. Parenting, on the other hand, involves making sacrifices that will later benefit me. By raising my kids well, I set the foundation to receive love and affection in the future. It’s a self-service.
And that’s why I stay at home with the kids. I want to shape the men that my boys will become.
While soul searching and working to discover my sense of self as a stay at home dad, I felt lost. I had no idea how to guide the boys in my new full-time role.
When I came home from work last year, I knew how to engage my kids. But a few weeks ago, I felt there was no way I could entertain them all day.
Fortunately, time is an excellent teacher. Over the past few days, I’ve been noticing my growth. One of my new habits involves correcting Kairo’s posture. I say, “sit up straight,” more than I can count.
I want to teach my boys the value of poise and how to appear presentable.
More interestingly, I correct my posture when I talk to him because I know that he and Kalel are watching me.
And as any friend or enemy will know, my posture is horrendous.
I also find myself sitting down and cuddling with them while they watch television or when we read books.
This is to teach them the value of connecting with people that we love.
When Tiyaanah is home, I have the boys hug and show their mom affection.
I do the same, so they can know how to treat the woman they love.
I let them help with cooking and cleaning.
So they don’t develop the misconception that these roles/tasks belong to women.
We embrace and hug when they have a boo-boo. But I also push them away quickly.
I want them to still feel like babies, but I also try to teach them about dealing with pain.
Becoming a better man is a lifelong quest that renews with each challenge. While I busied myself searching for the same old lessons, I learned that my children had already supplied me with an abundance of obstacles. Now, I work to master my life as a father, mentor, and guide.
I don’t think that my job is noble. I’m doing what I’m supposed to do, and I’m okay with that.