Questions. Jason Miller gets lots of questions. And more than a few funny looks. The grocery store. The zoo. The park. Just about everywhere he takes his 5-year-old-son, Jack.
“The bar is set low for dads,” says Miller, a stay-at-home father. “It’s set so incredibly low that I am made to feel like a hero for doing what we do—doing the stay-at-home dad thing. But I don’t see it that way. I see it as just…being a dad.”
“Jason doesn’t fit into a box,” says University of Nebraska – Omaha sociologist Julie Pelton. That’s one way to describe what sociologists do. They put people into “boxes” and study them in terms of how many of what types of boxes constitute the breadth and depth of human behavior. “Jason doesn’t fit in the box that most men occupy,” she continues, so he gets questions.
An annotation to the preceding paragraph is in order. Let’s be clear to point out that the full name of the sociologist/anthropologist cited above is Julie Pelton-Miller. That’s right. As in Jason’s wife.
“It’s nice to not have to worry about some of the things that other working moms have to deal with,” Julie says. “Day care. What if my child gets sick? Calls from school. My colleagues have to work around all that stress, but I don’t have to. I know that Jack is always here with Jason.”
The decision to have Jason raise Jack came when the Illinois natives moved to Omaha for Julie’s job with the university. He had worked in radio as both a DJ and station manager in his home state and in Pennsylvania. When the couple did a mental balance sheet contrasting the cost of day care and other drawbacks of Jason going to work against the freedom allowed by a new way of life, they decided to take the stay-at-home dad plunge.
Jason, who has also worked as a stand-up comedian, blogs about his experiences on his website, OmahaDad.com. The act of writing, he says, is more than just a creative and cathartic endeavor.
“A lot of it is for Jack,” Jason explains. “He’ll have the blog stories to look back on some day. It’s the story of his life.”
Being a stay-at-home dad means that Jason can turn Jack’s days into an almost non-stop exploration of the world around them. Regular outings include Fontenelle Forest, the Omaha Children’s Museum, the Durham Museum, and Omaha’s Henry Doorly Zoo & Aquarium.
Jack’s favorite destination is the zoo’s Lied Jungle because, he says, “They have bats.” Asked why he is so mesmerized when the creepy critters dart all around him in the dankest corners of the steamy jungle, the tot with enormous brown eyes and a cascade of blonde locks takes on a quizzical look that sets his 5-year-old noggin to work.
“Because they’re bats!” Jack chirps as if to add an emphatic ‘Duh’ to the apparently adults-just-don’t-get-it question that had been posed to him.
“Every day is what we want to make it,” Jason adds. “Every day can be an adventure. Being able to be with Jack this way is the greatest, best decision we ever made.”
Getting a few hours of quiet time on Father’s Day isn’t that big of a deal to Jason. After all, he already gets most every Sunday morning “off” as it is. That’s when Julie and Jack have a routine of grocery shopping and other errands that allow the stay-at-home dad some down time to use as he chooses.
“I feel like I was born to do this,” Jason says. “I used to think that radio was a great place to be. Now I know that being a dad is the best and most rewarding job in the world.”
Read more about the world of Jason, Jack and Julie at OmahaDad.com.