“How do you handle a bossy preschooler?”
“Advice on a newborn and a toddler.”
“Need advice on nighttime potty training.”
These questions are regular posts on a parent forum website, but it’s not moms clicking away at the computer. These everyday questions posted on Dadstayshome.com are from stay-at-home dads.
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, there were an estimated 154,000 stay-at-home dads in 2010. With more women in the workplace than ever, stay-at-home dads are becoming more familiar at local play dates and in classrooms.
Twelve years ago, Goose Creek dad Brian Davy received odd looks when he first arrived to a play group with his son, Peyton. Seeing a stay-at-home dad was a rarity at the time, and some of the moms wondered why he was there, But he wouldn’t have it any other way.
Davy and his wife, Valerie, were married 11 years before they decided to have children. Due to his hectic travel schedule with the Navy, neither wanted to have a child while Davy was away. But when Valerie got pregnant, he took a desk job.
“We both assumed she’d be the one to stay at home. I wasn’t making as much money as when I was traveling with my previous job. I wanted to go to college on the G.I. Bill, so we decided I would take night classes part time and take care of Peyton full time,” says Davy, who received his associate degree in computer technology from Trident Technical College not long after Peyton was born.
As an office manager at a local concrete company, Valerie felt good about the decision. “We both wanted our son to have a stay-at-home parent if at all possible, and it just worked out that he was the one to stay home,” she says.
“I had already been working for many years at that point, so it didn’t seem too out of the ordinary for me to be going to work. At that time though, we did not know very many, if any, stay-at-home dads, so it was a little more awkward for Brian,” she said. “I also hated to leave my baby that first day, but I was glad that I was leaving him at home with his daddy.”
The Davys welcomed their daughter, Meg, to the world in 2004, and Brian’s duties began to expand. Along with taking care of his son and daughter, he also began taking care of his sister-in-law’s two children, Jamin and Jolie Ward.
For them, nothing was routine. “Jamin and Meg are the same age, so when they were in diapers, it was like I had twins,” Davy says. “As they’ve all grown older, our routines change with age.”
Often you will see Davy at Westview Primary School helping out Meg’s class or on field trips with Peyton’s class at Marrington Middle School of the Arts.
And, yes, he cooks, cleans and does the yard work.
“It’s a complete role reversal, but it’s been a good balance. She’s very structured and organized, and I’m the opposite. We’ve always agreed that it has worked out this way for the best and for a reason,” he says.
Valerie will hear the occasional comment, but she takes it all in stride.
“He is a good stay-at-home dad because he is a kid at heart. He enjoys our kids and likes to be involved in what they are doing,” she says. “I am a good working mom because I am dedicated to both my job and what is going on at home. I keep a weekly calendar that helps us all know what is going on each day.”
But she admits, “We certainly have good days and bad days, but I think overall this arrangement has worked really well for us. Our kids seem to be happy, healthy and well-adjusted, so we must be doing something right.”
As the kids have gotten older, Brian recently took a partime job at the airport doing security 4-8 a.m. every weekday. He’s back home in time to get to the kids’ events and classrooms. Valerie now gets the kids up and to school and helps them with their homework at night now since he goes to bed early for his job. Brian picks up the in-between time.
Even after 12 years, Brian is still the only man in his children’s groups. But now he’s just part of the gang.
“At first, the moms think you’re out to hit on them or something,” he laughs. “Now when we all go out to lunch, it’s me and 12 moms sitting around a table. It’s become a good joke between us all.”
Ryan Nelson is a local freelance writer and can be found on Twitter @Ryan_ NelsonSC, Facebook and Google Plus. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.