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Why I’m grateful for a 'mancession'

NEED TO KNOW
  • U.S. Census Bureau: One third of fathers with a working spouse stay home to take care of their children
  • Some are calling the trend a 'mancession'

Editor's Note: Mark Joyella works as digital producer for CNN’s Erin Burnett OutFront. A longtime journalist, Mark was dubbed "New York’s Most Annoying Husband" by the New York Daily News. So far, his daughter thinks he’s pretty cool. You can find Mark on Twitter @standupkid.

I really, really hate the term "mancession."

To me, there’s something a bit too clever, cheeky and flip about the buzzword coined to describe a profound trend: The recession’s tendency in its first years to leave men unemployed at a far higher rate than women. As Bloomberg’s Joel Stonington describes the fallout, millions of American men found themselves transformed from full time worker to stay-at-home dad -- and I was one of them.

Certainly I don’t envy anybody who’s out of work -- man or woman. But when I look back to the first year of my daughter’s life, I tend not to think about the nights I spent lying awake stressed over finding a good-paying and reliable job, but rather the days I spent changing diapers, feeding my daughter, and playing with her. I doubt I will ever find a job that means as much to me.

In my case, I’d left a job voluntarily in 2009, deciding to quit my job as a television reporter in Miami to return home to New York and get married. My boss at the time urged me to reconsider, noting the dramatic job cuts underway at television stations and newspapers at that time. I knew it would be unlikely that I would walk into a job like the one I was giving up, but I was ready to start a family.

Over the next year, I got married, worked a few interesting but ultimately undependable freelance jobs -- and wondered often if I’d ever manage to get back the career I’d put first ahead of family for so many years. Thanks to my wife’s paycheck and excellent benefits, we were safe from the scariest parts of the recession.

If my wife made more, I might have stopped looking for a "real" job altogether. But the responsibility of caring for our daughter -- and looking toward her future -- meant never giving up the job hunt. Ultimately, I found my way back to full time, and a job that came with an office and a commute.

At the time, I wrote online about the sadness that overwhelmed me at the thought of not spending my days with my little girl. As I wrote then, "I heard about the opportunity on Monday, and signed up on Friday, with a commitment to start work on Monday. Tomorrow. And that means for the first time in my daughter’s life, I won’t be sharing an office with her tomorrow. No more trying to balance a bottle in my left hand and a phone in my right. I hate the fact that I ever thought that was a bad experience. I wish I had known on that first day that it would only last a few months. I would’ve savored it so much more."

And today, so many months later, with a great job that keeps me at work until long after my daughter’s gone to bed each night, I find myself daydreaming at times of being able to get that job back one day, and never again have to say goodnight to my little girl over the phone or only do bath time on weekends.

Sure, "mancession" is a ridiculous expression. But I experienced it -- and will forever be grateful for the experience.

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