You might call Barry Reszel the original stay-at-home dad.
He made headlines when he stayed home with his two kids in the mid-‘90s, long before men staying home was an accepted—if unusual—occurrence.
And the easy-going, upbeat Reszel has the right personality for breaking down stereotypes. For starters, he didn’t have any problem making conversation with crowds of moms at dance practices, school fun fairs and doctor’s offices.
“Somebody once told me I can talk to a brick wall,” Reszel says. “Some stay-at-home dads complain of isolation, but that’s not a big issue for me.”
The former writer and editor has cherished his role as a caregiver to his children—Bradford, 15, and Christina, 13. “It’s something I would never trade for anything. I’ve gotten to be with my children as they’ve grown,” he says.
Reszel and his wife, Lori Miller, agreed that he would stay home and she would continue working in communications consulting—where they met—because she had more of a passion for it. Once home, he dove into the traditional caregiver role: cooking, scheduling, chauffeuring to lessons and practices, coaching sports and serving as Director of Umpires on the board of the local softball association.
And taking on community work gave Reszel the opportunity to explore interests he likely wouldn’t have delved into otherwise.
Producing musicals at St. Joseph Catholic Church inspired Reszel and a small group of friends to start a nonprofit entertainment group, Liberty Town Productions, that brings high-quality, affordable shows to Libertyville stages. The organization, which puts on about four productions per year, launched in 2008, and boasts Reszel’s son and daughter as its community theater groupies.
He also became an advocate for stay-at-home dads by becoming a principal organizer of the National At-Home Dads’ Convention.
“You’re constantly on the go,” he says of being a full-time dad. “You have to be ready to drop whatever you’re doing and do what’s maybe more important next. I like being busy in that way. It’s a very full lifestyle.”