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I'm A Doctor, My Husband Is A Stay-At-Home Dad & We Wouldn't Have It Any Other Way

My husband gives me so much pride in what we are building; our journey works for us - it is uniquely ours.

As Told To

As Told To is a recurring segment on xoNecole where real women are given a platform to tell their stories in first-person narrative as told to a writer. If you have a story you'd like to share but aren't sure about how to put it into words, contact us at submissions@xonecole.com with the subject "As Told To" for your story to be featured.

This is Dr. Gina Charles' story, as told to Charmin Michelle.

I've always been nontraditional and done things my way. When I first met my husband in college, we must've been on date #3 when I said to him, "One day I'm going to have a daughter named Asha, and a house husband too." Ha!

The power of the tongue is real.

I was born in Dominica, West Indies, spent a few years living in Antigua, then immigrated to Harlem, NY at the age of five where I lived with my mother, brother, and a few other relatives. I always knew I would become a doctor, and at the same time, I also had a love for beauty and skincare. I began testing the waters in beauty as a bridal makeup artist while in med school.

Eventually, I got married and became a Board Certified family physician. My husband left graduate school to pursue a career in photography and we formed a wedding company, where he is the main photographer and I am the main bridal makeup artist. After some research of corrective skincare and aesthetics, we realized that there was a high-demand for skincare services from my brides, so we decided to offer these services as well. Our clientele immediately expanded. And with the help of my husband, coach, and advisors, we birthed a boutique medspa in Philadelphia.

This all kept our schedules relatively hectic in itself, minus even factoring in our daughter.

But after giving birth, everything changed. Between the daily operations of the medspa, me being a practicing physician, and my husband running a photography business, it was almost impossible to balance our schedule with personal needs and professional obligations. My husband and I had many conversations about what would be best for our living arrangements, and ultimately, we settled with him being a stay-at-home-dad. He was a full time entrepreneur at this point, so, it was kind of a no-brainer.

Basically, I got what I manifested 18 years ago without having to say it again.

After a while, working as often as I did took its toll and mom guilt set in. I remember when I went back to work after four weeks of maternity, and each day I spent away from my daughter, killed me. I was pumping at work, calling on FaceTime, and asking for pictures every available second of the day. Naturally, I couldn't help but feel at fault for not being with my family for so many hours. I felt I should be there for all of her firsts—and I've missed a few—but my husband is brilliant and amazingly supportive in helping me feel at ease with these struggles. He happily answers my FaceTime calls or he'll document and send pictures of everything our daughter does.

But how did my husband adjust? Does he have any regrets? When I asked him, I didn't know what to expect to hear but here's what he said:

"Staying home, the adjustment was easy at first until we had a daughter, then it became a bit difficult. I had to learn to care for our daughter, run a business from home, and manage our household (cooking, cleaning, shopping, lawn care etc.) It took me about two years after our daughter was born to get into a rhythm that worked for me.

[In the end] the moral is simple: if she wins, I win, and vice versa. It's a team effort, whether in business or in the home. We abide by the philosophy that in order for us to win in life, to break generational curses it has to be a team effort and each team member has to do whatever is necessary to for the team to win."

Damn, I love that man.

Once we settled into a routine, I began to learn how to balance, and appreciate, me time. Sure, I don't get to be home as often as I'd like but I still need solid moments to do absolutely nothing from all risky stresses. Ladies, it's important for us to be fully aware of the fact that not being present in one area, means being overtly present in another. I chose to seek decompression methods: spending mornings practicing meditation in our meditation room; focusing on mindfulness.

I share all of this to say, in the end, your family is exactly what you want it to be. Forget societal standards and understand that no one can decide what a family's roles should look like to you.

Many have questioned our arrangement—you can see it on their faces and even hear it in their voices. We deal with them both directly and indirectly, often dismissing the negative comments, but also openly addressing them as well.

We know what works for us, and we're pretty good at it. At the end of the day, we do what makes us happy. My husband calls himself the happiest man alive because he manages his business from home, he's happily married, and he gets to raise our child by instilling certain values and laying the foundation not taught in classrooms.

I've also learned that there are many women physicians who have this arrangement with their spouse as well, believe it or not, which was rather reassuring.

My husband is more than a SAHD, he's been my number one supporter since my undergraduate years, and he's literally and figuratively "shot with me in the gym". He sacrifices in building our home and family's foundation every day as our personal photographer, chauffeur, handyman, chef, travel partner, corny joke aficionado, and best friend.

He gives me so much pride in what we are building; our journey works for us - it is uniquely ours.

And we're going to continue on this crazy journey, our way.

If you're considering a stay-at-home-dad arrangement, my advice would be to first, be honest with each other and plan out how each of you will contribute to making the home acceptable, or who is responsible for certain tasks and bills. Be confident in your choice of the arrangement. Your confidence will inspire others who are considering doing the same, but also may be afraid of judgement.

Hopefully our story can make it a little easier for you, or give you that nudge of confidence that you're looking for.

It's your family, so play by your rules.

For more of Dr. Gina, follow her on Instagram.

Photos courtesy of Dr. Gina Charles

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
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Featured image by Shutterstock

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