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Health & Parenting

Real Life Stay-at-Home Husbands

Men pick up the slack as women for the first time make up a majority of American's workforce.
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He recalls one recent evening after the baby had been a pill the whole day — nothing seemed to make him happy. By the time PJ’s wife, Michelle, came home from work, he was exhausted and miserable. "I need to leave," he told her and walked out the door. He didn’t go far, just sat on the deck and listened to his iPod. After about an hour, he went back inside. "I don’t know if I’m man enough to be a woman," he said to his wife.

It’s a doubt that plagues many men in his situation, who usually find themselves there for pragmatic reasons. PJ grew to hate his job, while his wife not only loved hers, she was making enough money to support them both. Joe and Jodi Schatz were pulling down similar salaries before they had the first of their three children 10 years ago. "She had benefits. I didn’t," explains Joe, a former supervisor for a construction company in Baltimore. It was simple as that.

If the decision was easy, adjusting to it wasn’t. With thick, dark hair and a nice smile, Joe, now 35, isn’t the type of man women usually ignore, but he found the very female world of playgrounds and playdates alienating. He faithfully attended playgroup sessions in their suburban neighborhood, the only adult male in the room, and as babies drooled on toys and ignored each other, their mothers dished. "It would be a gripe session about their husbands, then they’d take it to the next level and talk about the hot guys in the neighborhood," he says. "I’m like, What can I add?"

One day at his daughter’s tumbling class, a woman sat down next to him and struck up a conversation, to his delight after months of being ignored. But their talk turned into an interview. "Are you a stay-at-home dad?" she asked. "How does that work? Do you do the laundry and the dishes?!" He sighs. "I was like a science experiment to her."

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