Before reading this, most of you would imagine a man in an apron, or are envisioning a pregnant Arnold Schwarzenegger in the 1994 comedy “Junior”. Wipe that image out of your head now, as these men will change that notion.
Shawn Culver* looks like your A-typical expatriate enjoying the inordinately tropical weather in the country. A tall and handsome American gentleman hailing from Norfolk, Virginia, Shawn frequently gets asked by people if he plays in the PBA or is a model, owing to his stunning resemblance to Holywood actor Terrence Howard, until they see him pull in his handy MacLaren stroller carrying eight-month old Carter*, with four year old Taylor* in tow.
You see, Shawn, 33, lives right next door to me, and yes, features deceive, he is a proud stay-at-home Dad. His wife Norah* is a successful banking executive assigned here three years ago. Back home, Shawn, after an eight-year stint with the Army, settled for a supervisory position at a machinery company, but the move to Manila was “a family upgrade,” in his words. A higher pay grade for Norah plus housing and schooling bonuses, coupled with a lower cost of living, awaited the Culvers, but Shawn had to leave his job. They knew from other expats about the joy of having a full time babysitter and household help, but that wasn’t ideal for this family. In a whole different world, somebody had to be there to guide the children through. The family has hired two helpers, but neither of them nannies. Shawn says “They just stay with the kids when the wife and I are out for drinks, or watching a movie.” Not your average, orthodox couple they are.
As we sat in my front yard cracking open a couple of cold ones, I sought answers to a mystery, but what I found was far less complex than I had originally thought. Before proceeding with “the talk”, I requested permission to publish – which he granted - then hit the most stereotyped question of all: “Does it affect your ego at all?” Shawn caught a breath then started to laugh. “Of course it does man, of course. But I don’t let it affect me! You see, my ego and I are two different things. I used to get teased a lot through Skype by former Army buddies and co-workers - heck, even by my sisters! I know there are roles in this world, but I chose mine and I’m man enough to live with it, and if that isn’t at all manly to you, to stick up for what you believe in, then I don’t know what is.” Wise words from a former Non-Commissioned Officer who used to endlessly bark orders. “Who’s the boss now?” he playfully chides.