At MomStamp, we love the men in our kids’ lives! Today, we’re celebrating the dads in our community who are the full-time caregivers to their kids. Ryan Miller is a stay at home dad to his beautiful daughter Caroline. Below are his thoughts on the adventure that is parenting!
What’s your day-to-day life like for you?
My day-to-day life is both simple and at times, chaotic. Children need a good schedule, and ever since I became the primary care taker two years ago I have realized that everything revolves around food and naptime!
I won’t bore you with my poached egg routine, but I do make a some killer eggs. Many days we hit up the local park. We participate in the weekly #TacoTuesday and #SexyPizza Wednesday deals around the ‘hood. We meet up with other stay-at-home parents, build blocks, read books, ride bikes, go to the zoo or children’s museum. Every day is simple, and yet, every day is an adventure with surprises and new life lessons.
What’s your favorite thing about being a STAHD?
My favorite aspect of this awesome gig is to watch my girl grow up right before my eyes. Not many parents get this opportunity. I’ve been able to see my daughter, Caroline, take her first steps, eat her first types of foods, say her first words and all kinds of other firsts… that stuff is priceless!
What led to your decision to become a STAHD? Did you ever see yourself in this role prior to having kids?
I never saw myself as a stay-at-home dad until our daughter came along… my pride was too massive 10 years ago. My wife and I didn’t know we would be able to have our own biological children due to some health complications. My wife gave birth to Caroline after 11 years of marriage. The wait was worth it. When my wife received her MD residency program in Denver, I said, “I’m not going to look for a job. I’m going to stay at home with Caroline.” These formative years are more important than any job in my opinion. The decision was pretty easy.
What’s been the biggest learning curve for you in your new role?
The biggest learning curve is the tedious details along with the dynamic social change. I’ve never been a clean freak, and I didn’t cook much before Caroline. Also, I LOVE being around crowds of people. So, to turn my attention from being around lots of people for years to spending the majority of time with a little person who doesn’t communicate was hard at first.
Our view of Fatherhood has changed a lot in the last half century. STAH or not dads do more than ever before. How do you see the role of Fatherhood will continue to evolve in the next 50 years?
It’s all about legacy. What are leaving behind for the next generation? What kind of world do we dream of when we see our children with their children and grandchildren? I think more dads are waking up to realize the importance of not only having children, but also raising them well. Children need their parents to be an active presence of support, discipline and endless love. More men are realizing that it is not about the paycheck or chasing success. At the end of the day, your children want to know, “Am I loved?” rather than, “Did dad make a killer business deal!” I see the tension in our society, but I see the tide turning in favor of a healthier balance of work and family.
How do you divide responsibilities with your wife?
We don’t see things as dividing… that just sounds weird to us. My wife is an incredible woman with a TON on her plate. I don’t know how she does it as a resident MD, but she’s an All-Star wife, doc and mother. When she’s at home, she is fully present. Sure, she’ll take naps when Caroline naps, but when Caroline is up, she’s a rock-star momma. She even lets me go out and do “guy stuff” at night. She helps cook food on her days off. Honestly, there is no dividing… or nagging on either end for the most part. If something needs to get done, it happens. We don’t do the “roles” things in our house. Due to her crazy schedule, I do the laundry, make dinner, pay the bills, do the grocery shopping, work the garden and make sure Caroline doesn’t totally destroy the house!
When you are a Stay At Home Mom the resources and networks you can tap into for support are endless? Where do you go for resources and support as a STAHD? What network or resources do you wish existed for STAHD?
I have a couple of close stay-at-home dad friends in the neighborhood, and we connect on a regular basis. We are in a playgroup with other stay-at-home mothers. They treat us like one of them. Sure, we are still the minority, but it’s not a big deal. The only odd moments are when the new parents at the park don’t know what you are doing… or you get the occasional, “Hey! Are you on daddy daycare today?” along with, “Are you in between jobs?” I think we have all the resources we need when we tap into community life.
As the primary caregiver, what’s the one thing your cherish most about your time with your daughter that you might not have if you weren’t home with her all the time?
All of it! I wouldn’t be able to cuddle, read, play and DO LIFE with her… ask any parent who works full time, and they’ll tell you that they miss their child like crazy. I get to experience all of it.
How you think your divergence from traditional gender roles will shape your daughter’s view of the world for the better?
She already says, “Mommas work. Daddies stay at home.” It’s funny. Hopefully, she won’t be bombarded with a male-driven, patriarchal worldview until later in life. When she comes across sexism in all of its ugly forms, I think she’ll be more confidant in her own skin due to our family dynamic. I’m a big time egalitarian… Caroline will always know she can lead and try on all kinds of activities regardless of her gender.
What is the one thing you would say to moms about STAHDs?
Nothing really. Moms are cool!
What is the one thing you would say to DADs about STAHDs?
Come hang out with us when you get home from work. And regardless if you work full time or stay at home with your child/ children, you are the most important male influence in your child’s life. Man up!
Any parenting hacks you’d like to share with our readers-Tips/Tricks you’ve learned along the way?
Be consistent. Rhythms are healthy. Lots of hugs and kisses and words of affirmation are priceless! Read often. Be encouraging to your partner in front of your child and don’t undermine the other.
And lastly, what’s the difference between leggings and tights? Did you ever figure that one out?
I’m still trying to figure that one out. But I do know what a tutu is…