I have to be candid about something that may paint me in not the best light with my fellow parent-bloggers. I was reading a blog post last week, and thought to myself: “this comes across as kind of whiny- (pardon my language) ‘shit.’” When I thought about it, a lot of the parent blogs I read also discuss the different levels and examples of shit that we, as parents, must tolerate, and can sometimes lean whiny. As a stay at home dad, it is more about the shit we put up with when people learn what we do. Yes, that gives me the right to complain about shit. But to reach whiny? Hmmm...
I closed the page I was on at the time, and, yes, it was actually my own blog, and thought to myself: “why would I still be a stay-at-home dad a decade plus later if all I focus on is the shit-end of the stick parents (especially stay-at-home parents) endure?”
Thanksgiving has come and gone, and I spent the holiday pondering all I have to be thankful for this year. My family and I faced a great obstacle (my wife--the sole provisioner as of late, lost her job and we had to determine what was the best move for our family), and we ended up leaving behind everything we knew and all of our friends and family and relocated to Jacksonville, Florida from just outside of Hartford, CT. My mother, who had been living in our in-law apartment in CT and who had become an incredibly important resource and fixture for our family, moved with us, to her own apartment about ten minutes away. There was some resentment for mom making this move from both my brother and sister in law who have no kids, and my sister and brother in law who have children who are adults/near adulthood. It was a very difficult decision on her part (that almost did not happen), but she is here, and my siblings understand. Mom has to be where the "babies are," and my family accepts it.
I realized that I also have a lot to be grateful for because I have the greatest job in the world. I thought about my brief stint in the corporate world, and of my wife and my friends whose successes and stories “out there” in the world I often glance at longingly, from outside the “in.” Every single person I know complains about shit they put up with at work. I have seen friends who have lost their careers as they approached 40, simply because the system is shitty and that is what it does to some people. I have watched others grow to great heights, but who discuss the day-to-day shit on how shitastic their jobs can be, how shitty dealing with co workers can be, and what shitastic people their bosses are. It made me realize…My job is better than theirs…and I realized I MUST do a blogpost about why it is not shitacular to be a Stay At Home Dad!
- My boss is cuter than yours, and I’ll bet one million dollars on that fact, right here—right now. I like to believe that I am my own boss, and determine the overall way the household and the day-to-day activities are run. I realize I would be lying if I said I was 'the boss'. I am not and I know it. My three young children rule the roost here, and that is OK. Three little spirits are at the center of our family's structure and that does make them 'the boss', even though my wife and I are "in charge." The best thing about my "boss" is that when they get really demanding on a specific project, it takes little more than logical discussion (or maybe a time out) for them to see my point and the correct perspective on things. Can the same be said for Mr. or Mrs.“Where is the QED report?” Here, I will grant that when actual shit lands on your hands, in your mouth, on your eye, on the floor, behind the changing table, it is shittastic!
- I set my own hours. Now, every mom and dad blogger out there is going to call bullshit on this one, and say we are all “slaves” to when our dear children need us. Yes, that fact is true. But when there is not that immediate need, I am in control of what I do with my time. If something becomes especially daunting or overwhelming, I can find time to prioritize what needs to get done--whether it be to throw a hot towel over my eyes, or down a bloody Mary if I must, I can (kidding, but you get my drift). I hear horror stories about my peers dealing with a boss who slams employees for not being productive enough and making them go through 15 different files to get to the email that shows the boss, in fact, dropped the ball. Can you then say: “I am taking a time out…go paint rainbows with your sisters, and we’ll reconvene shortly?” #winning
- I am paid significantly more than anyone I ever met, including some pop artists. I have actually met and hung out with a pop artist, or two, and they are paid stupidly well. I have enjoyed rides in cars that I can’t pronounce, eaten foods I don’t even know what to make of, and seen endless wads of cash flow freely. It was fun. I have also seen the flip side to their personal lives and experienced a “loneliness” that was markedly educational. You may call it “shit.” I do, and it is food for thought. I have seen markets crash, investments fail, and empires fall. In my world, I am paid in hugs, “daddy I love you” pictures, and with the accomplishments these amazing human beings my children are becoming…each their own universe with endless possibilities and wealth opportunities in their own right. It is I WHO AM overseeing their upbringing, predominantly, on a day to day basis as they venture towards their tomorrows. I even get bonuses that are priceless: found on my computer screen written by one of my six year old daughters: I love you so much more then the sky you are the best daddy in the world you tAKE CARE OF ME AND DADDY i LOVE YOU AND NEVER LEAV ANY WERE WITH OUT ME COME EVERY WARE WITH ME PLEASE AND REMEMBER i LOVE SO MUCH
- My “water cooler” talk is more meaningful than yours. Granted, those I’m with all day will not catch me up on “How To Get Away With Murder,” or the latest episode of “Once Upon A Time;” however, they will talk about ‘once upon a time’ and ask me if dinosaurs had feelings. And we will spend a chunk of our afternoon not only drawing dinosaurs, sculpting them with clay, and googling everything we can on them, but exploring the concept: "do objects feel?” I will be a better man at the end of the day because I gave thought to something I probably had not in 30 or so years, and it makes me remember that way of thinking so I can apply it my 40 year old life.
- When I “retire,” I will look back on what I created, nurtured, and guided. I truly believe I will not look back with regret for what I did not do, but for what I experienced at the soul level, and for the seeds planted for the tomorrows that will come after me. I do not think people look back and wish they did more “at work,” as I have seen plastered all over facebook recently. I do wish I did more, at my work, in the "hazy years" with newborn twins and a four year old, and had understood how incredibly lucky not only I AM, but that my children are, that we have this time together. I would never criticize a working parent for choosing the path to put their babies in daycare and to be raised by others, but for my Self and for my family, I am asserting: “I put my children first and foremost in my definition of ‘wealth,’ and in my life. I will be damned before I would miss a single moment of this short snapshot that is their childhood for simple things, or easier financial paths, or any type of career down the road. I know the way the world works, and understand what my career choices are when my children are grown…and with everything I get in return, I would do it again one thousand fold. Life is not a dress rehearsal, and I am glad I chose the right path for me. So, yes, I will return to shit that leans whiny in my work, I'm sure. I just needed to acknowledge that greater than that shit is a wealth and a brilliance I never dreamed I would acquire.