I never realized how much time I spent trying to convince myself that being a stay at home dad was fulfilling until I started working and had blissfully little time to think about anything. Truth be told, there's no real fulfillment in being a stay at home parent, it's great to be around for your kids and all, but mostly it's tedious. No wonder so many stay at home moms drink. And some do drink, even on play dates and during birthday parties. No one on the face of the earth can begrudge them that, there's only so much "look at me! look at this! see my gum? see it?" you can take without having something to help you avoid a voluntary lobotomy.
I'm only working about 23 hours a week, but I'm buying toys, merchandising toys and marketing toys and events. What's not to like? I'm still on dad duty during the week, breakfast, clothes, pack lunches out the door, pick the kids up, meet buses and make dinner. In between I get to have work, doing something I like with people over the age of seven. My kids are great and I love them but ALL kids can be a giant pain in the ass if your exposure levels are too high. It's in their nature; they're narcissists and all narcissists are annoying. Toy reps and customers can be a pain in the ass but I'm not required to love them, wipe their noses or fawn over their every doodle.
Some people truly love staying home with their kids and I have the highest respect for them but I really don't know how they keep it together. Seven years almost killed me. I feel like Papillon floating away on his coconut raft.