Jake Howard-Potter is used looking like a fish out of water. He has been a stay at home dad for almost 4 years, taking care of 8-month-old Lyndon and 4-year-old Skylar.
“It's really absolutely amazing to watch and be a part of,” he said. “I'm definitely still enjoying it. It's quite a bit of work than I had anticipated. It's very difficult to be in more than one place at one time.”
He does everything a mom would do, from swim class to nap time.
It wasn't long ago that stay at home dads were portrayed as clueless Mr. Moms. Like the guys from “3 Men and a Baby” who couldn't figure out how to change a diaper. But today's stay at home dads are geared up and pushing strollers with pride, like the dudes group from “What to Expect When You're Expecting.”
“It's a reality people think of stay at home dads as you know bumbling Mr. Moms from the movies,” said Howard-Potter. “That's a stereotype set up by Hollywood and has been reinforced by the public. It’s certainly something that I considered when I considered being a stay at home dad. All that being said, I challenge anybody whose sitting in an office for 8 hours a day to come do what I do with these 2 kids on a daily basis.”
But it's not all playdates and playgrounds. Despite the progress, stay at home fathers can still be a target for ridicule.
Just last month, doting dad Doyin Richards uploaded a photo of himself doing his daughter's hair. It went viral. Women swooned, but the haters came out too with ugly comments like:
“He probably rented those kids. They don't even look like him” and “I would bet anything that you're a deadbeat.”
But his simple message was a blog post called “I have a dream: that people will view a picture like this and not think it's a big deal”
Tom Stocky shares that dream. He took 4 months off from his job at Facebook to care for his newborn daughter. But he was surprised by all the unsolicited comments, often snarky.
“There were just insanely low expectations for me as a dad,” said Stocky. “Someone's like, 'Oh, that's so great that you're bringing your daughter to the grocery store.' But then I was like, 'Well, of course I am!’”
Stocky vented on Facebook about comments slamming moms who work, when dads don't. One stranger cracked: "It's too bad you can't earn as much as your wife so she can be the one to stay home."
For a lot of stay at home dads, it is a strictly a numbers game. Their wives out-earn them. Howard-Potter is an artist, his wife Erica is a tax lawyer. The women like Erica who bring home the bacon are often criticized for not being home with their kids.
Marriages like Jake and Erica's are still in the minority. According to the census, the numbers of at-home dads has doubled in the past 10 years, but it's still small: less than 200,000.