By Jill Heffner
March 4, 2003: At 7 a.m. Jon Youngblood listens quietly in the hallway
next to his son, Jack's, bedroom. Jack talks to himself every morning,
when he just wakes up, in baby babble.
"This is what I look forward to every morning," Jon says.
Jon, 33, and his wife, Jette, 32, with a tag-team effort, feed Jack,
17 months, breakfast before their workdays start. About 8:30 a.m. it's
time to say goodbye; Jette gathers up her paperwork as Jack blows her
a kiss. She is ready for work.
Jette is a top producing associate broker for Parker Real Estate Services.
Even though she seems to always have a phone to her ear her job still
allows her enough time to spend with Jack. When asked if she wished
she were the one at home she said, "Of course, but then I think
I would be bored, then I'd want to work"
Jon and Jack start their day together. This morning Jon, in his motorcycle-oil-stained
jeans and a red hooded sweatshirt, is ready to clean out the garage,
Jack in tow.
Jack's given name is Jon Thomas Youngblood Jr. Jack is the decided
nickname, but Jon often calls him Junior. Jack is Jon's "mini me."
Occasionally they dress like identical twins in baggy khakis, a blood-red
polo shirt, and black Airwalk shoes. "We get to hangout together
all day," Jon said as he pats Jacks hand.
Jon is a stay-at- home dad, and he is not the only one. Estimates in
2000 placed the number of stay-at-home dads in the United States at
nearly two million, up from 500,000 in 1986, according to Suzanne Woods
Fisher in Christianity Today. Fisher said the exact number is difficult
to pinpoint because many stay-at-home dads work either from home or
at part-time jobs.
Nationwide, the percentage of men 16 years and older looking for a
job last year fell to its lowest recorded level, according to the U.S.
Department of Labor. According to a 1997 survey conducted by the U.S.
Census Bureau of the 8,090 children under the age of five receiving
childcare from a relative, 3,304 received that care from their fathers.
In November, the Oakton Community College near Chicago hosted the seventh annual At-Home Dad Convention. It is a one-day convention, held on a Saturday, that attracts "a hard-to-caricature crowd of about 100," Brian Reid wrote in the Washington Post"
Local stay-at-home groups are popping up offering anything from nights
out to dad-run play date groups. "So while there's ample proof
out there that I'm in the minority, I'm not alone," Reid said.
"The decision for Jon to be the at-home-parent was easy. We knew
someone was going to stay home, and it was obvious I would be the one,
she made more money anyway."
"The day Jack was born Jette was taking business calls, on her cell phone, lying in the hospital bed," Jon said.
Jon knows of other stay-at-home dads and two of them are good friends.
Jon met one dad when he sold him a Volkswagen bus; the other he met
when he worked in real estate."We can sit around, drink beer and
share childcare war stories," Jon said.
While being a stay-at-home dad is Jon's full-time job now, he has a full résumé. Jon received a bachelor's degree from USU in liberal arts and sciences, delivered pizzas, restored and sold VWs, laid cement, was a mortgage loan officer and has a real estate license. Jon just sent in the paper work to make his license in active.
"He just doesn't have the time to do much," Jette said.
"I like it, I like staying home with Junior," Jon said with
a laugh. "Sure my life is less flexible to go do stuff, but I still
exercise three times a week."
Jon mountain-bikes up Providence canyon on a trail leading from his pine needle covered patio in their back yard. "Before the snow this week Junior and I walked near the deer fence, and that is good too." Jon said.
One day after a verbal confrontation with Jette he wondered if he had
made the right decision to stay at home. After thinking about his situation
Jon said, "I resigned myself to it, this is what I do."
Jon does more than change diapers and fetch "bobbles" (a
generic word for drink). He takes Sally, the dog, and Evan, the cat,
to the vet, takes Jack to the doctor, does 70 percent of the grocery
shopping (according to Jette) and loves to buy Jack shoes.
At noon Jon puts Jack down for his three-hour nap. Jon said it is easy,
" I just put him in his crib and he blows me a kiss and says "bye-bye."
It is during this time Jon is able to accomplish some housework.
"He cleans, Jette said. "I still clean the way I like it
on Saturday, but he makes my job easier." He also does laundry,
sweeps the mahogany floors and does the dishes. "I feel fortunate
to be in this situation, Jette said"
Jon also helps Jette's business. He puts together her quarterly newsletter
and helps her with marketing strategies; the latest is a white panel
moving van. "I am going to put her picture, life size, on both
sides of the van, Jon said"
Jette works seven days a week 365 days a year. As a real estate agent
Jette has to make herself available to clients. She recently hired an
assistant to help at the office and show houses. "This is what
I do, but I am also a mom," Jette said. "People always seem
surprised to learn Jon is a stay-at-home dad and I am the breadwinner,
but this works for us."
Jon and Jette are expecting a second child in October. "Jon is
ready," Jette said. "I hope this time I will take time off,
now that I have an assistant."
After dinner Jon watches TV, he can't find the remote. Jack plays at
his feet. Jack might be a baseball pitcher the way he carefully planned
to strike out his dad with a perfect pitch to the head with the just
found remote control.
"He clocked me, Jon said while rubbing the red spot on his forehead."
Jon sweeps Jack up and blows a raspberry on Jack's potbelly, They both
collapse in laughter.
Jette puts down the phone and gets Jack ready for his bath. "Sometimes
I wonder how he (Jack) pictures me, I want to have an active role in
his life," Jette said. "I struggle constantly with that."
Jack looks at Jette, and with a twinkle in his eye and perfect articulation
says "Hot Mama" and gives a five-tooth smile. "Jon just
taught him that, Jette said while giving Jack a bear hug."
It's time for bed; Jack has his stuffed black puppy around the neck
with one arm and with the other blows Jon and Jette a kiss and says