I am SO opted out

I’ve heard that some stay-at-home parents get business cards. Here’s what I’m thinking of for mine:

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      <strong>Doodaddy</strong><br /> <em>Fully Opted-Out Stay-At-Home Daddy</em><br /> Available for playdates and coffee

Have you been following all the opt-out stuff? Here’s the current score:

  1. Lisa Belkin wrote in the New York Times years ago that women don’t fulfill their professional potentials because they choose to spend more of their energy on the family unit.
  2. Then there was a response in the Columbia Journalism Review last month that called opting-out a bunch of baloney: women can’t get ahead because the structure doesn’t allow for it.
  3. Now the debate is all over the blogosphere.

The common sense consensus seems to be that no, mothers don’t (as a rule) opt out from career success; they’re simply given fewer opportunities in most professional settings. That’s probably true, and I would be the last to dispute it.

Maybe I’m an outré weirdo (like usual), but I am happy as pie to have opted out of my “career.” I put career in quotation marks because I never really had one specific one. I’ve had lots of jobs (see the sidebar) and I consider that all of them helped to get me where I am today.

radio traffic manager • Russian interpreter • theatrical lighting designer • database programmer • whale watch guide • marine mammal rehab supervisor • camp counselor • youth mentor • naturalist • stay-at-home parent

So why am I an opt-out-of-a-career daddy? A number of possibilities:

  • I am just not very good at having bosses. In all those jobs I pretty much always worked in small(ish), nonprofit, grass-roots organizations, and I still had trouble with the organizational politics.
  • As a member of Generation Whichever (my parents were born pre-WWII, so I’m not in the Baby Boom Bounce, and I’m too old to be in Gen-X), I’ve never expected that I would stick to one job, one workplace, one career.
  • Being a stay-at-home dad is my career.

Have you ever seen the Irish proverb “May you have an interesting life!” The joke is that it’s presented as an “insult” — because an interesting life is one full of challenge, get it?

I’ve always gravitated toward that “interesting life” idea, though, or, even better, a “creative life.” Sure, I won’t ever be CEO of anything, but I can honestly say that not a month has gone by in my adult life when I haven’t learned something.

Of course, some of the things I’ve learned have had to do with removing poop stains from various fabrics, but that’s creative, too.