A year ago, Jimmy Baron had been unemployed for three years. It was a humbling experience for someone who was part of the biggest morning show of the 1990s in Atlanta: 99X’s Morning X. By 2006, he refused to take a major pay cut at 99X and sought brighter climes that didn’t come until last fall when Dave FM finally hired him to take over mornings.
The best part of being at home? Jimmy was able to take care of his newborn son Micah with his wife Lisa (who is writing a tell-all book about her time as a spokeswoman for Ralph Reed.). But he also often found himself a bit isolated socially, especially at places where mostly moms congregate, such as city parks.
So when he came to Dave FM, he had an idea to help out all those stay-at-home dads, some who are in that position by choice, some because of the lousy economy. He held his first event last month at a Monkey Joe’s. I checked out the second one at Hammond Park last week. About 25 to 30 guys popped by with their kids. Panera Bread provided the food and Jay Memory from Memory Dean sang a few ditties.
“I found myself at home during the day when most dads aren’t used to being home but they are now because of the economy,” he said. “I’d go to the park and the mall. It was always me and moms. You’re like this pariah. Nobody would talk to you. I wanted to put something together for dads who are in this boat. There are a lot of them.”
The men who were there were a mix of stay-at-home dads by choice and those who are just biding time “between gigs,” as Jimmy called it. They all seemed grateful to hang out with other guys with kids.
“It’s cool to be around other dads,” said Jeff Collins, a 31-year-old Atlantan with his daughter Lida. “You feel more relaxed.” He is home by choice since his wife is an attorney.
Bruce Lawson, an unemployed chef, said when he goes to parks, it’s usually 10 to 1 moms vs. dads. He says when his three-year-old son Devin runs off and he’s momentarily left by himself, some moms would look at him askance. “What are you doing here?” they’d ask, as if he were a potential predator.
Other guys don’t get bugged by the social ostracism. Jamie Lewis, 42, just plays with his two kids, Kendall (4) and Owen (2) at parks and ignores the moms. He has a small picture framing business at home and got a degree, too. And he plans to get back into the workplace once his kids are in school.
Below is a video I took with Jimmy: