Halloween or not, this dad's been wearing the same costume every day since he quit his job to care for his son.
Andy Nelson/The Christian Science Monitor/File
No one noticed my Halloween costume, even though I had worn it all day. But I can't blame anyone. The costume consisted of a gray sweat shirt, bluejeans and black sneakers. I was in disguise as a stay-at-home parent. The biggest twist on my masquerade? I'm a dad.
Halloween or not, I've been wearing pretty much the same costume every day since I quit my job two and a half years ago to care for my son, Nicholas. Among the skeletons, witches, and superheroes at the local Halloween parade, I was as much an oddity as anyone.
I'm used to it. I'm regularly the only dad at the playground and parent-child classes. Although statistics vary, they bear out this abnormality. Depending on the source of the numbers, I'm one of anywhere from a few hundred thousand to a couple million men in the US who stay at home to care for their children – a small minority.
Other than it being Halloween, the day was much like any other, filled with errands and chores. I had worn my camouflage to the grocery store with Nicholas. He sat in the shopping cart, wearing a glow-in-the-dark skeleton shirt, while I made my rounds up and down the aisles among the moms and seniors.
After we came home, I made lunch for the two of us. My wife, Beth, was at the office. While Nicholas took a nap, I mowed the lawn. After that, I worked on a wooden toy garage I was making for Nicholas as a Christmas gift. For a couple hours, I almost felt like a regular dad.
When he woke up, it was really time to show off my costume. The Halloween parade is a big deal. Hundreds of kids and parents blanket the main street in elaborate outfits. Nicholas looked good in the skeleton shirt Beth had picked out.
I observed the parents as much as the costumes. There were plenty of dads who had taken time off from the office to be with their kids. But the parents I really related to were the stay-at-home moms.
I began staying at home when Nicholas was 2 months old. As I looked around at the moms, I knew that much of their virtuous work was probably underappreciated.