My name is Jon and I’m a stay-at-home dad. House-husband. Full-time father. I’m 40 this year and this decision has been one of the best I’ve ever made for me and my family. How did I arrive at this juncture that shifted the course of my life?
I used to work as a pastor in a church in Petaling Jaya for about ten years. In my tenth year, the pandemic hit and that was when I had the privilege of time to re-evaluate my priorities (As a pastor, serving in an urban setting called for a lot of my attention and energy. Often, I’ll be away from my family for days and that would take a toll on my relationships with my loved ones).
There is a memory that will always stick and cut deep every time I think about it. One day I was spending time with my then 2 year old daughter. Seeking for her affection, I asked if she loved me and without hesitation she said a resounding NO. At first, I thought it was her just being coy, I asked her again. Her answer had not changed. It cut deep because it was coming from a place of regret of not being around much during that period. I knew that this was the type of father I’d allow myself to be. But the work continued to pull me away often and that frustrated me.
In 2020, my wife and I found out we were going to expect our second child after a couple of years of trying to conceive (with two miscarriages in between). As I said, the pandemic made me realised I had a chance at redemption. I always believed that God gives us second chances, and that we are to serve our family first before everything else. Maybe I had to learn how to strike a balance and maybe I will in the future. I knew in my heart of hearts that this way an opportunity of a lifetime and with my wife’s blessing (alongside the family’s understanding and support) I tended my resignation and took a detour in my journey – to serve my family in the same fervour I served the house of God.
I learnt all I could to take care of a newborn (after the confinement lady left) as we were not able to have help during the strict lockdowns. I got to know my first born like never before and caught up on the many years I “missed”. Her countenance changed, and her affection for her father grew. My wife and I learnt to communicate better, find a rhythm to take care of the two kids and the household. I got healthy and stronger as I was learning the importance of self-love. Most importantly, I was now there for my wife and kids (and our parents!).
Being a stay-at-home dad is celebrated these days. Being a millennial (although I prefer to identify as Xennial), stereotypes of fathers as the ‘bread winner’ and ‘huntsman’ is slowly being broken. I’ve always been a rebel of sorts and this was one aspect of my identity that I’m most proud with. The world has changed. We no longer need absent fathers. We need them more than ever before.