A stay-at-home dad’s personal essay about struggling to reenter the workplace is resonating with parents across the country who’ve faced similar difficulties.
Guy Patton was a successful broadcaster when his son Finn was born. After limited time off—the couple lives in the United States—he and his wife returned to work but it didn’t, well, work. Finn kept getting sick at daycare, and both of his parents were distraught at spending so much time apart.
In a privileged position of being able to live on one income, the Pattons decided that one parent should quite their job and stay at home with Finn. With her more stable gig and better insurance, it fell to Guy’s wife to keep her job.
“Staying at home with my son was transformative for me. It takes patience to be with a child all day, and I found I had more of it than I thought. His excitement at each new discovery was contagious.”
That was five or so years ago. Finn is now in school and the couple’s savings had “depleted to a terrifying, retirement-postponing level.” It was time for Guy to reenter the workforce, a feat that’s been easier said than done given the “baby gap” on his resume.
“How could I put a positive spin on my transition from Operations Manager at New York City Media Company to Diaper Change Specialist at My House?
“I embraced my situation. In my cover letters, I detailed how I left full-time work to raise my son, and that I’ve been freelancing and sharpening my skills. But in this age of self-populating application forms on company websites, I wondered just how much of my story made it past the algorithms to an actual human. In five months of applying, I landed only one job interview.”
That interview led to an offer that was unfortunately rescinded due to budget cuts, so Guy is now six months into his job search. Still, he has no regrets.
“Finn and I are deeply close, and I feel sad for fathers like my own, who never get to know this kind of intimacy. I had to leave work to build this relationship, and it was worth it, but I’m anxious about what the future holds for me, career-wise,” he wrote.
“I remain optimistic that I will find a company that can see that the gap in my resume has been filled with wisdom, patience, and empathy, and that the experience of staying home has increased my value as an employee and a person.”