By Christy Salcido
I probably think about the term "role reversal" more than most working Moms. That's because my husband, a former ski instructor and contractor (a real "guy's guy") made a life-changing decision two-and-a-half years ago: to stay at home with our newborn daughter. Being a stay-at-home dad is, in his own words, one of the hardest jobs he's ever had. In fact, he has a t-shirt that says "Fatherhood is the Hardest Job I've Ever Loved."
While each day has its challenges, Barry always says it’s worth every single minute. I often get teary-eyed when I watch the two of them interacting because it is so special. It’s different from the typical father-daughter relationship because he is the one changing her diapers, feeding her lunch, taking her to the park, giving her a bath and teaching her new things all the time. Barry has always had a big heart, but it grew even bigger when he became a father and started raising Carly.
But, to be honest, there are a few perks that go along with this stay-at-home daddy gig. When he brings Carly to Gymboree, the park, music class -- you name it -- he is the ONLY Dad nine times out of 10. That means he's surrounded by other mommies or nannies (we are in Los Angeles). That also means that they fawn over him once they hear that he's a stay-at-home dad and I work. You can imagine the comments --"That's sooooo adorable!" "That's the cutest thing ever!" "Your wife is so lucky." Of course, I sort of think this falls into the double standard category because, if I were a stay-at-home mommy, it would not be "adorable." During a time when I wasn't working, I took Carly to an indoor playground and was mistaken for her Mexican nanny.
Barry gets a kick out of it and somehow finds a way to deal with his unique situation amidst so many women with a dose of humor. Recently, however, this so-called perk nearly became too much, even for him. Our neighbors started hosting a Toddler Yoga class at their home and he found himself standing in a circle with a bunch of women doing yoga positions and singing songs. But instead of drawing the line and quitting the class, he continued with it. That's why I salute him for his selflessness and for his sensitive side. And, most of all, for being the best stay-at-home “mommy” ever!
I'm not saying my job in corporate communications is easier than his role as stay-at-home dad -- just different. Being a working mom is full of contradictions, but, at the end of the day, I focus on quality over quantity when it comes to Carly-time. When I get home from work, I really try to put the Blackberry down and pick the story book or puzzle up! I love being a mommy and I love working, so I guess this non-traditional arrangement works for us.
Now that Mother's Day is upon us, I want to reverse roles again and pay tribute to an amazingly patient, loving and dedicated Daddy, who really does have one of the hardest, but most rewarding, jobs around!
Christy Salcido is the Director of Marketing for the CHAYA Restaurant Group and M Cafe in Los Angeles. As an 18-year marketing and communications veteran, she's led strategic campaigns for high-profile brands, such as Starbucks Coffee Company, as well as non-profit organizations like producer Norman Lear's nonprofit youth voting campaign, Declare Yourself.