Wallace on staying home with his son

Wow, seems like many, many people want to be (or have been forced by circumstances to become) self-employed these days, but the problem--yes, you know this, but bear with me (or bare with me, yow!)--with competing on the Web is that potential local customers can get their Web work done in pretty much any city in the world.

Yeah, face-to-face is nice, but, all other things being equal, low prices are nicer. And as people get used to working from a distance, the situation is only going to get worse, not better. Not trying to bring you down Gareth, or TJ, cause I'm in the same crowded boat.

I've been at home with my son since he was six months old--he turned three in May of this year--and all along, I've been struggling to drum up some freelance design and editing work so I can feel like a "good provider" (or a "provider," period).

I've had some success in magazine editing and production on the local scene and late last year turned my attention to the Web. I'm working hard, I've got a few clients, but I'm not making much money. In short, I'm trying, oh boy, am I trying.

But I also try to remind myself every day to keep everything in some kind of reasonable perspective. Fact is, spending time in front of my computer (which I've been doing far too much lately--oh, cursed ambition!) is IN NO WAY comparable to spending time with my son.

Kids need their parents to be available and attentive. If you think you can spend all your time working now and make up for lost time once you've MADE IT, you're very sadly mistaken.

I remember the first time I went to vote in a federal election after I began staying home. My wife and I went to the desk to get our ballots, and the woman behind the table looked for our names on the list of voters, saw that my wife was listed as a librarian and I was listed as a homemaker (I was reading the upside-down page), and then said, "Oh, they must have made a mistake," and went on to explain what she had found.

Well, no mistake, but I was a bit surprised to be called a homemaker, and the expression on my face must have made it obvious, because a second woman behind the desk said, "Oh, maybe you'd rather be called a 'household engineer.'" "No," I said, "I was just a bit surprised, but I guess if 'homemaker' was good enough for my mom, it's good enough for me."

Yeah, I know, this story makes me seem like a friggin' saint of new masculinity, but it happened, and I've presented it to make a point: Gareth, you may not be making a whole hellava lot of money YET, but money is just a means to various ends, and one of those ends should be raising your children. Even if you only DECENT parents, having one parent home with your kids EVERY day instead of shipping them off to daycare is SO important.

Good for you, Gareth, for pursuing your dreams and for taking on a non-traditional role--just make sure you carry out that role with conviction, e.g., do regular housework, cook great meals, make sure the time Michelle gets to spend with the girls is free of distractions, etc., etc.

Good for you, Michelle, for working hard to make it possible for your partner to stay home and for setting a great example for your girls.

A big salary and shiny awards is good for your ego, but raising independent, secure, creative, caring people is good for the world.

And on that note, I bid you peace.

© copyright, 1997, Wallace
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