I mostly "lurk" in the forum, and hardly ever venture out of the music areas ... and then I found this thread ... this morning.
When I got out of college (geology degree) I went out to work. I worked oil wells in California, Alaska, Texas, the Gulf of Mexico, and the north Atlantic. When I burned out on that lifestyle I took a "fun" job, picking up road-killed deer in NJ. When that job petered out (the state decided it would be cheaper to leave the deer and let the towns pick them up) I landed a job in CT with the phone company. I was an early enthusiast of home computers, so when the old "Bell System" broke up I had no trouble getting to AT&T, serving on regional and corporate technical staffs, and then landing a job as a Member of Technical Staff at Bell Labs (back when Bell Labs was still Bell Labs!).
I got into the "relationship" business late in the game. I got married at age 38. I'm the oldest of 6, and having a family with kids was a big factor in our decision to get married. We even planned on me being a stay-at-home dad for a few years.
My son was born on February 13, 1992. Nearly two years later my daughter was born. And my son was diagnosed with autism. At the time of his diagnosis autism wasn't the media darling that it is today -- the first talk of an autism epidemic didn't make it into the media until a year or two later. When he was diagnosed there was no talk of "high functioning" -- we were warned that he would never speak and would need to live in an institution for the rest of his life.
The good news is, I was a stay-at-home dad, and I had the time to work with him. I learned fast, and we started making good progress. I had him speaking by the time he was three and a half years old. We were able to get him into a specialized school and he continued to make progress -- so much that he entered our school district's kindergarten when he was six. He had a full time aide until he graduated from 8th grade.
Today is his 17th birthday. He will never be "just another kid" but he is a sophomore in our local public high school, without an aide, and he's on track for college. I'm still a stay-at-home dad, but I should get back to gainful employment in a couple years.
When my son was still a perfect baby boy I bought a tee shirt that said, "Fatherhood, -- it's not just a job, it's an adventure." I wouldn't trade it for the world, but it's not the kind of decision that should be up to anyone else. You guys make the decision that's right for you.