Jeremiah Fountain had planned on finding a job when he left the Army last October.
But with no interesting jobs open, and his wife Myra, a first lieutenant in the 709th Transportation Detachment, expecting their first child, he decided that it was time to go back to school while staying at home with their newborn.
We felt pretty strongly that one of us needed to stay at home, Fountain said. With Myras career taking off it made more sense for me to stay home.
Their son Noah was born in April and Fountain quickly learned that there was a lot more than he expected to staying at home and caring for his son.
My expectations of (staying at home) were a lot more downtime than I get, Fountain said. I figured itd be a whole lot of him sleeping, me changing diapers every once in awhile. He requires a lot of attention, which makes doing school interesting.
The criminal justice major mainly takes online courses, but typing his assignments is a bit difficult with a baby in his arms.
I had to actually buy speech software where you talk and type because Noah doesnt let me sit down without holding him, he said.
But completing school work wasnt the only obstacle Fountain is overcoming; he also quickly came to realize that stay-at-home dads, while becoming more mainstream, are still rare in our society.
Im getting a lot of disapproving looks when Im out in public with him by myself, Fountain said. Its kind of strange to me because I thought the mentality was that people wanted dads to spend more time with children. Yet when the moms not around because shes working, I get the disapproving glares or if hes fussy because I cant give him a bottle right then, people have their inputs that theyd like to get in while Im walking around the Exchange.
Fountain started looking online for other stay-at-home dads in the area, but after finding a flood of groups for moms and none for dads, he decided to start his own, Stay at Home Military Dads of JBLM, on Facebook and tribe.net, a site for member-created groups more along the lines of message boards.
It gives dads a place to meet other people, but also a place to just vent about their day or brag about their kid or ask questions, Fountain said.
Its similar to the groups for moms but in a setting that may be more comfortable for the dads.
The group has gained attention during the Mothers Own Milk support group at Madigan Army Medical Center. The dads often come with their wives and sit together talking to one another, Dorothy Strobl-Lucas, a lactation consultant at Madigan, said.
I think men speaking to men resonates, she said. I think when dads meet other dads that stay at home ... it seems more acceptable.
There are only about 154,000 stay-at-home dads in the U.S. according to the 2010 census. That is less than 1 percent of all married fathers in the country.
Fountains group has only three members, including himself. He hopes to expand the group to help foster more relationships among dads.
I like camping and hunting, others like computers and video games, with more people in the group people with similar interests ... can link up and find things they want to do together, he said.
Fountain added that all dads are welcome in the group, even if they work. The name was chosen because that was his particular search, but he knows that all dads have questions about their kids or just want to brag about them.
Even dads that are still working, may have questions dont want to ask wife or someone else, I know Ive had stupid questions, he said. You can ask in the privacy of the group.
Strobl-Lucas thinks the group is a great idea and hopes it succeeds.
I think dads putting together their own support group is great, she said. I hope to see it grow.
While Fountain hopes his group gains more members, he is also just enjoying his time watching Noah grow up.
My favorite part is watching the developmental steps he takes. He giggled for the first time the other day, if I wasnt a stay-at-home dad I wouldnt have witnessed it, he said. I havent found time to go to the gym yet, thats okay we do a lot of hikes with him down by the waterfront, he keeps me active.
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