In the two months, I (Anthony Crosby) have been working on/producing media for AAT full time, I have been asked the question, I anticipated being asked when I decided to become a content creator, “what you do is nice, but are you ever going to go get a real job?” Ever since being asked this, or a variation of this question, on a couple of occasions, I’ve really thought about what the definition of a “real job” actually is. Is a “real job” something predetermined by the cultural norms of your city? Is a “real job” something predetermined by traditional gender expectations set by our parents and our parents’ parents? Is something only equated as a “real job” if it allows you to make X amount of money or allow one to portray a certain kind of image to the world? What is a “real job?” Your definition may differ from someone else’s, but today, we’re going to talk with someone whose interpretation of a “real job” may be unlike that of most of his male peers’.
In this feature, we’re joined by Curtis Tingey. Curtis is married to his wife Mikayla who works as a bartender, and together they have a 9-month-old daughter named Aaliyah. At the time of this article’s publication, Curtis, and his family live with local musician and philanthropist, MJ Roadsz. MJ has appeared as a guest herself on AAT; you can read her full feature here MJ Roadsz: Singer/Songwriter/Philanthropist Since Aaliyah’s birth, Curtis has assumed the role of stay at home dad. AAT wanted to talk with him about this decision and learn a little about his heart behind making it. However, first, let’s learn a little bit more about Curtis, himself. “I was born and raised here in Elko. I actually wasn’t born in the hospital; I was born in a little house over in Ryndon; my dad worked on a ranch for thirty plus years and said it was just the same as delivering a cow! Growing up around Elko has been pretty cool. I’m a certified residential carpenter mason, CAT certified to train on lots of different heavy equipment, ran a gravel pit for three years, and I’ve also worked for Newmont and Highmark Construction.”
Thank for speaking with us, Curtis! So, when it comes to you working as a stay at home dad, how did that come to be? Why did you and Mikayla decide that was best for your family? “We got pregnant when I was towards the end of my career with Highmark Construction; I couldn’t do it anymore because they wanted me to go out of town and be gone doing odd jobs for a couple of weeks, sometimes. I wasn’t going to have a kid and be gone all of the time, so I had to consider something else. I started selling car parts and doing mechanic’s work on the side. However, we finally decided that I was going to stay home because when I have downtime, I can fix things and whatnot. I’ll clean. I’ll cook. I even told Mikayla that I’d teach her how to sew! I didn’t really have it rough as a kid, but my dad went through a lot of marriages. It was never anything bad; it was just a lot of marriages. Going through that as a kid was kind of strange, so I always told myself that when I had a kid, there would be consistency, dependability, and a focus that would allow my kids to be in a rhythm. I think all of these are important in a child’s life because it helps them develop and help them be the best person they can be. People joke about me staying home and doing my “wifely duties,” but this is the best job in the world! I get to watch my daughter grow, and she gets to be raised the way I want her to be raised.”
Let’s follow up with your last statement Curtis. Has there been much negativity for your what you do, from others? Do you miss working outside of the home? Moreover, finally, what makes this entire life choice worth it, in your eyes? “I do have friends who’ve given me a little bit of heat for what I do, but it hasn’t been too bad, not yet anyway; I’m waiting for the day! But I’m mostly too busy even to notice if anyone would say anything because I’m here at the house doing stuff; I think, in the last week and a half, I left the house and went into town (from Spring Creek) once! Idle hands are the devil’s playground, right? I do miss going to work a little bit because I do have various types of work history under my belt, I have a lot of different availabilities to work and make more money than what we have. However, I don’t want to sacrifice being happy and seeing my daughter grow for more money; we’re doing ok now (in regards to money). I figure as soon as she (Aaliyah) starts going to school, I’ll go and get a job outside of the house. But there’s not too much negativity with it. There may be men who think staying out home sounds nice, might not want to do it because it will demasculinize them, or they worry about what their friends think. However, I would say, if you can, try it! On a pro’s/con’s list, the pro’s blow the con’s way out of the water. Growing up, riding motocross and being around bikes was my passion; however, I broke my back when I was fifteen and never was able to ride the same way. Since, then, I’ve never had such a passion for anything…until now, until I had my daughter. I would give up anything and everything to make sure she is ok; I’d go to any length.”
Thanks for the transparency, Curtis! We’re now going to ask your wife, Mikayla, a question about this if that’s ok! Mikayla, what would you say to another woman who might be discouraged if her husband came and talked to her about staying home with the kids because of the whole masculine/feminine aspect when it comes to gender roles and expectation? “Honestly, it’s not about being masculine or feminine, it’s about what’s best for your family; it’s about what fits best. And for us, right now, this works. I would encourage women to give men a chance to step up in these types of ways. For me, it’s been a pretty good experience.”
Thank you, Mikayla! Curtis, back to you. You’ve lived in the Elko area all your life. Obviously, you’re going to have to do some generalizing to answer this question, but what has been your observations of the husband/wife work and household role relationship in our town’s culture? “A very popular mindset around here, from the spouse that is out making the money ( both men and women) is the person who goes to work will come home and fight with their spouse when they’re asked to do anything additional around the house because, in their minds, they did their job for the family. They’re paying the bills! I personally don’t agree with that; I think you should be able to do whatever you can do. If you’re in a spousal relationship, it’s equal responsibility. Because it’s a big misconception that the person who stays home just sits around all day; I definitely don’t sit at home all day! I am busy! Staying at home with the kids is work; it’s a 24/7 job of which you’re always on call.”
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See you around, Elko!