The Stay-at-Home Dad

Up to this point I think I’ve tried to mostly keep my husband out of the blog (except for this post).

A deliberate choice, I wasn’t sure quite what to share. Joseph is private person and doesn’t like to talk a lot about himself or tell people what he’s up to.

For instance.

When we got engaged, Joseph’s family had no clue we were even serious. They knew we had gone out a few times, but when we sat them down and told them the big news, they were stunned. Happy, but stunned. My mother-in-law cried, my father-in-law gave me an awkward hug. To them, it was coming out of nowhere because while Joseph was living with them at the time, he didn’t divulge any details about his love or personal life and they had no idea that all those late nights were being spent with me. That’s just the way he likes it. My family on the other hand, they knew we were getting married before we even started dating, but that’s a story for a different day.

I’ve been a bit mum about our family life, and as I’ve mentioned recently, I now feel more comfortable being open with our lives, especially since I think family life IS life, and food is such an integral part of family life, I can’t seem to separate the two. And after reading this post, written by the talented Nicole of Making It Lovely (who does have a lovely little blog, btw), I felt validated, like finally I could be open about our family’s current situation, and felt prompted to share.

Joseph is currently a stay-at-home dad. By choice. Kind of.

He has a law degree from BYU Law School and is the smartest man I know (he reads like a fiend and is a brilliant orator and writer). He also has a job offer to be a part of JAG (Judge Advocate General, remember the TV show?) for the Air Force. He has had this offer since December 2010. To get into the JAG program, you have to be exceptional. The acceptance rate, at least when Joseph applied, is 3.5%. This means he was one of the 10 out of 350 applicants chosen. He wouldn’t tell you this, but I will. This is just one example of how intelligent and talented he is.

So why is he a stay-at-home dad?

Long story, but the short version is he didn’t pass the bar exam the first time and he can’t begin his enlistment until that happens. He took the bar exam for a second time last month. We’ll know by May if he passed. If he passes, he’ll begin his career (boot camp, Officer’s School, and all that first) in late summer.

Last year after he graduated, he and I were both working, but then last fall (before we found out that he didn’t pass the bar), we decided he should quit his part-time teaching gig (he was teaching LSAT prep classes at the time, which incidentally paid better than a law clerk position he had) so we wouldn’t have to pay for childcare and he could spend as much time with the kids as possible before launching into a military career.

It would be temporary since he was going to begin the Air Force job in January. But that was before we got the test results came back at which point we found that at best, it would be at least 10 months until he’s officially begin his career with the Air Force. We decided to stick with our plan of me working and him being the stay-at-home parent. So this is what we’ve done, what we’re doing.

Money is tight, but I have a steady job with competitive pay that allows me to provide for our family and not be away from kids all day long. We get by, and we’ve always had more than enough to meet our needs.

The stay-at-home dad is no longer a freakish thing–thanks in part to the economy, among other things like shifting cultural perceptions–but it’s safe to say it’s a long shot from being anywhere near “normal” or “mainstream.” There certainly are no “daddy” play groups in Provo, UT.

Despite the idea of a stay-at-home dad becoming more accepted, I think for most guys, this would be a brutal blow to their “male-ness.” But for Joseph it’s not. He is not male in the “I am man, hear me roar” sense. He doesn’t watch sports, he doesn’t golf. Heck, he doesn’t go out with his buddies to play basketball or have a guys night at the bar (we don’t drink anyway).

He has a domestic side. He makes bread. Does the dishes.

He’s manly, but not afraid to get his hands dirty, changing diapers, giving baths, making dinner; essentially all the grunt work of child rearing. He takes the kids to story time, helps with homework, reads them books, chases the kids around the house and makes them scream with glee, takes them to the park, wrestles with the boys (Salem likes to join in, too), teaches them 101 different kinds of card games including polish poker, builds forts, tells them stories, draws pictures, and at the end of the day, he sings them songs to put them to sleep.

Is this guy for real?

If I were you I would think the same thing. But I can attest, as well as can my sister and my children, he’s the real deal.

I sometimes pinch myself to make sure I’m not dreaming, but no, I really am married to the perfect man.


  1. jes
    on March 26, 2012 at 9:45 pm said:

    oh, janae, keep me posted. being a jag is no easy thing. air force life is no easy thing. let me know if you need someone to talk to while he's away at COT, etc. best to you.

  2. Tina
    on March 26, 2012 at 2:18 am said:

    This was a very sweet post. Thanks for sharing these details. I hope you'll share more of your family life with us. Glimpses into who your family is helps us see who you are, too!

  3. Whole Foods Vegan Momma
    on March 24, 2012 at 2:14 pm said:

    Lfwfv: I think men love nothing more than to recieve praise & admiration from the women they love, even if they are a bit shy about it :)Felicia: It's true, isn't it–no dad communities like there are for mom's. I guess we currently don't have a culture that fosters this. And guys don't socialize the same way women do (we tend to flock together, nurture). It's an interesting dynamic, one that I think deserves more attention.Melissa: Yes. It is a blow to confidence, but Joseph takes that sort of thing really well. I wouldn't. I'd probably be a bawling mess for months!Tia: Congrats!! I really hope you can make things work so that your husband can stay-at-home. My opinion is (and research supports this), that kids are better off in so many ways with a stay-at-home parent. And I think a man can do it just as well as a woman if he so chooses. And I don't think that a man staying home is in any way diminishing his masculinity. Char: Thank you ๐Ÿ™‚ Greg: Thanks for stopping by and saying hi! I agree, we need more men who are willing to be loving and nurturing. These are not just qualities for women. Steph: Caleb is welcome at our house any time :).

  4. Stephanie
    on March 23, 2012 at 6:26 pm said:

    This morning I took the kids out for a walk, but didn't get far before a neighbor bombarded me w condo annoyances as I was trying to keep up my kiddos. They stopped in front of your house and then suddenly I remembered – Oh no! Janae loves to have the door open on lovely days like this and I rushed over to figure out where Caleb had run off to (Mali, Sadie, and Sophie were playing nicely on the sidewalk of course). And there he was in the kitchen while Joseph was sweeping away. I came in and talked to Caleb, explaining that we just can't waltz into people's houses whenever we want and Joseph just smiled and laughed about it. He is so easy going. Thank goodness. He made a troublesome parenting day much easier on my heart.

  5. Greg
    on March 23, 2012 at 5:47 pm said:

    Glad to have stumbled onto your blog searching for great whole food vegan recipes for the weekend! I'm a fellow vegan from Boston and appreciated your valuing of these aspects of masculinity that are too often devalued. Your husband and family seem like the kind my fiancee and I would be lucky to meet when we settle down into a community. Keep writing and spreading the vegan love.

  6. Char @
    on March 23, 2012 at 5:16 pm said:

    Awwww you do have an amazing man! Your whole family is adorable ๐Ÿ™‚

  7. Tia
    on March 23, 2012 at 4:17 pm said:

    I'm 5 months pregnant with our first. My husband would love nothing more to be a stay-at-home dad. We're trying very hard to see if we can make it work, because I think he'd be great at it! He loves being home and taking care of our home life. It's just very hard financially.

  8. Melissa DeLeon
    on March 23, 2012 at 3:56 pm said:

    It certainly throws a wrench in your original plans, but at the same time, it does provide you with the unique time together you didn't know you would have, so that is a blessing. Not passing the bar is a huge deal, emotionally speaking. It says something amazing about Joseph's character too that he jumped right back in to take it again just a few months after those results!

  9. Felicia
    on March 23, 2012 at 1:57 pm said:

    As the wife of a lawyer, may I say how profoundly that sucks, but I'm sure he passed this time around.Also, my brother is a stay-at-home dad (in Orem! they should hang out!) for the past several years. I definitely feel like it's been hard on him. As you mentioned, there's not the same dad community as there is for moms.

  10. Anonymous
    on March 23, 2012 at 12:50 pm said:

    What a sweet tribute. It is such a blessing to have a wonderful husband. I feel the same about mine, and he too is always embarrassed when I brag about him to others. I think, deep down, he loves that I respect him and admire him so much though ;)lfwfv