For the past decade, my career as a freelance writer has played a prominent role in my sense of identity. For the past year, being a WAHD has greatly defined who I think I am. Even so, when I texted my wife after dinner to tell her I had only worked 20 minutes thus far that day, her reply floored me.

“You are working. As a SAHD.”

I mean, it’s something I already know. It’s no secret that I do stay at home and I am indeed a dad. And I absolutely have the utmost respect for all the SAHMs and SAHDs out there. I just never internalized it the same way. Maybe it’s because there is still a certain cultural stigma surrounding the label. As if being a SAHD somehow makes you less of a man. It doesn’t. It shouldn’t. If anything, shouldn’t being a competent father make you feel like more of a man?

If we are to move forward with gender equality, if I am to raise my daughter such that she feels she can do anything a boy can do, then we need to crush this social stigma. And this change needs to start from within. I need to fully embrace the role of the SAHD. I need to convince myself that I am doing the right thing. If I don’t fully believe it myself, how can I expect to affect the perceptions of others?

Not everything can be boiled down to dollars and cents. Maybe it’s the entrepreneurial mindset in me and I just can’t help myself. I need to tell myself that I am bringing value to my family and I feel compelled to quantify that value in a monetary sense.

Considering that full time daycare is about $1200 a month (or more) in Vancouver and a full-time nanny is at least $20,000 a year, it would not be unreasonable to add at least this amount to the “income” or the “value” I contribute to my family. This is above and beyond what I do as a freelance writer and a small business owner. It’s a different perspective and one I need to take to heart.

A friend of mine recently wrote that he is insanely jealous of families where one of the parents (usually the mom) can stay home full time with the kids. He wants to know how these families are able to do it on just one income. In the case of our family, we’re not doing it on one income. It just so happens that my career choice allows me to earn my income while also taking on full-time daddy duties.

It can be overwhelming and it can be exhausting. But here I am and we’re making it work.