The first half of today was largely a repeat of yesterday. Breakfast, walk, nap, lunch - simple and relatively easy. Even better, my wife only had a half-day at work, and was home by 1 in the afternoon. This made for a quick day.
This evening we went to a barbeque with other medical residents at the hospital. My wife knew some of their names, but overall, we did not really know anyone. Of course, when you introduce yourself to someone new, inevitably the first question the new person asks is "What do you do for a living?" For the first time in a long time, I could not figure out how to answer that question.
For the past three years, I've been an attorney both professionally and personally. Prior to becoming an attorney I was in law school, and college before that. It has always been really easy to say, "I'm an attorney," and even though I did not generally care for the work, I was always happy and proud to say it. And when I told someone what I did for a career, one or more of the following responses was always generated: (1) An attorney married to a doctor, you're going to be rich!; (2) An attorney, eh? Us doctors don't really like attorneys; and/or (3) What type of law do you practice? To which I would always respond (1) Yes we are, if we ever get our loans paid off; or (2) & (3) I practice estate planning, which is pretty tame, so you doctors don't have to worry about me. Yes these are canned responses, but they worked 95% of the time.
Today, for the first time, I had no idea how to respond when asked about my career. Do I mention I am a former attorney, and thus open the door to the typical questions and canned answers? Do I simply say I'm a SAHD, and see where that goes? Do I try to finesse my response, and say that I was thinking about shifting careers, that this gave me an opening, and go into a full blown diatribe about the situation? Do people even care enough for me to spend time explaining? It is like I have lost a part of my identity.
Now I must pause here to say thanks to all of my family, friends, co-workers and readers who have been so supportive of these changes in my life. Almost everyone I have spoken with has expressed either (1) a desire/wish to do something similar; (2) congratulations on making such a difficult choice; or (3) a statement about how he/she could not handle being a stay at home parent, but thinks it is a good decision for me. Nearly everyone believes that I will really enjoy being a SAHD (and I tend to agree with them).
Yet, telling my family, friends and even my co-workers at the law firm was relatively easy. These people all know that I am not lazy, that I am not a bum, and that I am not making this decision because I want my sugar-momma doctor of a wife to support my early retirement (at least I don't think I was making the decision for any of those reasons). In fact, everyone that I have previously told knows me to be a hard worker, extremely disciplined and loyal, and deeply motivated by a desire to serve my family.
My wife's new co-workers have never met me before, and although I pretend not to care about what others think of me, I am deeply concerned about my appearance to others. By mentioning that I am a SAHD, even mentioning that I am now a former attorney, would the co-workers think I wasn't good enough to make it in the legal profession? That I am a lazy bum? That I am somehow negatively judging those who choose to place their children in daycare? Obviously, these are all false assumptions, but assumptions that could quickly be made by someone with less knowledge of the situation.
So I know you are all dying to know what happened. Well, nothing happened. Because we had the baby with us, and because people were so focused on him, my line of work never came up. A few people did ask what we were doing with the baby now that my wife is back at work, to which we replied that I was taking care of him. But none of those conversations ever got past that statement.
In the end, I know I am going to have to just face my fears and tell people that I am proud to be a SAHD, and that I feel like I am doing what is best for my family. If people want to judge me, so be it. If I did not have a child, I would probably negatively judge the SAHD as well. But at the end of the day, the only opinions that really count are those of my wife and son. So long as my son is happy, and my wife has peace of mind knowing that I am at home taking good care of him, then that is enough for me.
The purpose of my SAHD experience is to serve my family in the way I feel best, irregardless of society's views. If I was beholden to the whims of modern culture, then I probably wouldn't be in this position to begin with, and I'm sure I would be having a lot less fun. So bring it on world, I am a SAHD. It is who I am now and who I want to be. And if you don't like it, too bad.