- Posted July 16, 2013 by
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Don't call me Mr. Mom!
A stay at home dad trying to be half the parent his wife was at home
My wife and I decided together for me to be stay at home dad in March of 2008. Up until then, we had been married for 10 years and I was the only of the two of us working out of the house. My wife was an amazing at home mom. There wasn’t one simple factor that led to my staying home so much as a myriad of events that all came to a hilt. Most simply, our dynamic changed. Our son had become diagnosed with autism and wouldn’t attend his therapies without me in tow. He had also become increasingly attached to me and leaving for work became an extremely stressful ordeal. At that point, I left my job as an account executive for an accounts receivable finance company and began looking for a job with more flexible hours. My wife suggested suggested that I try to pursue my writing and comedy full time while she works instead. It was really hard at first, trying to continue “working” as a freelance writer from home. After a couple years, I realized that the way I provide for my family now, is by being dad. Once I embraced that, I found my groove.
I'm a stay at home dad. Although I know that the intent of this report is to stand up proudly and say that I'm no "Mr. Mom," I'm a dad and I'm damn good at it, the truth is I don't feel that way half the time. Most days, if I'm being honest, I feel like I'm faking my way through this. Sure, my kids eat pretty well, get bathed most of the time and have all their needs met but not to the standard that my wife set before me in the first 10 years of marriage while I worked out of the house. She works endlessly and selflessly and I can't manage to remember to get my kids in the bath every day. Should I get a pat on the back because I'm trying my best?
Don't get me wrong, I'm very fulfilled and fortunate to be able to have a great relationship with my 4 kids. I just also feel like a fish out of water. I strongly believe that a man can stay home and be the primary parent but not everyone feels that way. When hanging out at BBQ's, I feel myself hanging out in the kitchen, talking to other moms about how to untangle my daughter's doll hair more than I talk to the guys about sports or home financing. Why can't those guys just keep up on the Kardashians so we can find some more common ground?
The guidlines of this submission ask for a picture that encapsulates me as a father. The most entertaining moments in my parenting life would make amazing pictures for you all to see, unfortunately, those moments aren't the ones I'm pulling my phone out for. Like the time I was standing in line at the book store with all my kids. My youngest who has autism told me he would like me to buy him a stuffed animal. It took everything in me to swallow the anxiety and fear deep down as I said, "No." Knowing full well what might come next.
Yep. My then adorable 5 year dropped the F bomb at me for all to hear. I dropped the books, turned around, and swiftly escorted my children back to the car before his continuing screams prompted someone to call the police. Surely, I looked like someone stealing kids. If only they knew, at that moment, you wouldn't have had to steal them. Still, it would have made a great a picture. Instead of a hilarious photo capturing the sheer humiliation on my face juxtaposed against my son's stern look of triumph, I've included a picture of me posing with my daughter before our first Daddy Daughter dance.
The Daddy Daughter dance was taken sometime this last winter. The dance was held at the Lacey Parks and Recreation center and while it was fantastic to witness my daughter experience her first formal dance, it was also the most awkward environment I may have ever been in. Surrounded by dads who mostly never spend time with their daughters just standing around, staring at their phones. Some would exchange glances with me as if to say, “Can’t wait until the week starts and we can get back to work, right?” I wasn’t sure how to make my eyes say, “This is my whole life, buddy.” The other picture I included above is Connor on the far left, then Noah, myself, and Dawsyn. It was last summer while we were at the Point Defiance Zoo. Dawsyn saw fake toadstools and decided it was a good photo op to pose like Super Mario. It was also one of the last times my teenager has allowed himself to be photographed.
Before my daughter started kindergarten, we had a ritual to play dollhouse each day until her brothers returned from school. Playing dollhouse with this pre-K kiddo required an infinite well of creativity. The game mostly consisted of her watching me come up with and then play out various story lines and character arcs with all of her toys and stuffed animals. At one point, that tea pot from the Beauty and the Beast story had married Buzz Lightyear but a giant sock monkey had tore them apart. Only a broken Sponge Bob fast food kids meal toy could save the day.
Sure, I've changed diapers, make meals, and have potty trained 3 of our 4 children. I don't think those things make me something more than a "Mr. Mom." The hardest part, I think, is just showing up everyday. Engaging with your kids and not wasting the rare opportunity that you have a dad who gets to stay home with his kids. If you can do all those things well but also love each tedious mind effing task with love and admiration, then THAT makes you a great dad.