Tag Archives: stay at home dad

Giving Time

My Wife had grown accustomed to the phone calls.  Those calls I would make between 4:30pm and 4:45pm more and more often.  The ones that started with, “I’m sorry,” followed by my sigh and, “I’m going to have to stay late again.”  Five o’clock was approaching too quickly.  There was too much that needed to be done by the end of the day, which meant that the end of the day was going to stretch on past five until who-knows-when.  Such, I thought, is the life of a salaried employee in corporate America in the 21st century.

As I reached for the phone, it rang.  I glanced at the caller ID.  It was my Wife, hopefully not calling to make sure that I was leaving on time.  With luck, she was calling to tell me about something entertaining or wonderful that one of our three-year-old boy/girl twins had just done.  As a stay-at-home mom, she was always good about letting me know when something exciting had happened at home, like a new word spoken or new feat achieved.  Those were the calls that recharged my batteries on these too-long days.

“Hi Sweetie!” I said as I brought the phone to my ear, mechanically inserting some cheer into my voice to start the call on an up note before delivering the bad news.

She said just four words, but they would soon change my life forever.  “I got the job!”

“Congratulations!” I heard myself cheer, my mind zooming off in a million different directions at once and then rushing back to the here and now.

She paused.  “There’s just one catch.  They want me to start next week.”

My heart sank.  I stammered.  I wasn’t sure what to say.  My Wife had been waiting all summer for this call and it was beginning to seem unlikely that it was ever going to come.  We had planned for her to stay home with the twins until they started elementary school, but then her dream job working for her alma mater had opened up and she felt compelled to try for it.  This was not the kind of position that came along every year.  The last person that held it stayed for a decade.  Knowing this could be her only shot at the job for a very long time she had gone for it, not even sure if she would be seriously considered.  Now it was hers!  But what about the kids?  It wasn’t like her parents or mine lived close enough that they could just pop over and watch them for a couple of weeks until we figured out childcare.

Filling the silence on my end of the line she stated, “This could be my career job.  This could be where I stay for 25 or 30 years.”

“I know, but…” I trailed off.  “Can we talk about this when I get home, tonight?  It’s getting late and I still have a lot to do before I can leave.”

“Of course, Sweetie.”  She said understandingly.

Before hanging up I added, “Hey, I love you… and I’m proud of you.  Well done!

That night, after putting the twins to bed, we sat down to try to figure out how we were going to make this work.  We had kicked around some childcare options during the summer, but landing the job had seemed like such a hypothetical that we wanted to be careful not to get overly excited.

My wife got straight to the point.  “I checked on the childcare offered at the university.  It’s an option, but it’s presently full and there’s a waiting list.  That’s okay though, because I think I’ve figured out the solution.”  Then, she said the words that I will never forget, “We could trade places.  You could stay home with the kids.”

Suddenly, I am 12-years-old again sitting on the back porch with my Dad in rural Ohio.  The sun has just set peacefully across the corn fields that stretch on for miles.  The crickets are chirping.  My Dad is explaining to me, my older brother and younger sister that in the months since his father’s death he has come to realize how much he regrets having worked two jobs during our early childhoods.  He says that his Dad – who had died of a massive heart attack on the assembly room floor of the automotive plant he worked at for 40 years, just one week before retirement – had spent his life talking about the things he was going to do after he retired; the things the two of them would do together.  My Dad announces that he feels like he owes it to himself and to us not to repeat what he has come to see as his father’s mistake.  He is done with telling us about the things that we will all do someday when he doesn’t work so much.  “I’d always felt like I needed to get ahead,” he says.  Then, in a voice heavy with remorse he adds, “No amount of money was worth the time that I won’t get back with you guys.”  He concludes definitively, “I’m quitting my evening and weekend job to spend more time at home.  We can get by.  It’s the time with you guys that matters.”

I snapped back to the moment.  Without another thought or second’s hesitation I stated with determination, “Let’s do it.”

 

It has been a year-and-a-half since that night and I’ve never looked back.  We were able to convince my Wife’s alma mater that she was worth waiting a few weeks for, so I could give proper notice to my company – a company that I cared about or would not have struggled through all those long days and sometimes nights and weekends to give it my best work.

My kids are four now and started preschool last fall.  We made the decision to put them into a cooperative preschool so that I would get to participate in this milestone with them.  Even better, I had them at home with me for a whole year, last year.  I will forever cherish that time – and this time – with my children.  I never thought that I would get to have such a close relationship with them as I have grown to, that I could share so much of myself with them as I get to, or that my heart could be filled with such joy by an opportunity that I didn’t even know I wanted until it presented itself to me.

I am grateful to my Wife for the gift she has given me.  Like I was, she is a salaried employee.  She still has some late evenings, but fortunately for our family she took a lesson from all late nights she saw me put in during our children’s first three years and has drawn very clear boundaries for her job.  She is using some of her vacation days to work at the co-op.  She’s making time for the important things.

My Dad and I have spoken many times about my decision to stay home with the kids.  He is wildly happy for me.  He’s pleased that I value the time I gained with him when he started spending more time at home to the extent that it made me make a big change in my own life.

If there is one thing that I’ve learned from this whole experience, it is this:  We only get one shot at being parents and our children only get one childhood.  There are no do-overs, but it’s never too late shift our priorities, change our course and become more like the parent we dream of being.

Where the Heck Have I Been?!

If you have been a devoted follower of my blog since I started it last summer, then you’ve probably been wondering where the heck I’ve been for the past few months. The truth is that I took a couple of weeks off to focus on finishing my children’s book and a couple of weeks quickly turned into three months.

One of the harshest realizations I’ve had since deciding to pursue writing as a profession is that being at home with my kids doesn’t allow me as much time to write as would be optimal. I thought that I would be able to do social media marketing management part time, write part time, and parent the rest of the time. It’s turned out that once I’ve finished my part time social media management work while my kids are at their ½ day preschool – I usually have about an hour before I have to get back to parenting full time again. Significant chunks of time to work on writing projects are few and far in between.

Trying to keep up with the blog and write a book felt like too much. So, I decided I’d sneak away from Super Eclectica for a couple of weeks to finish my first kid’s book. All went according to plan until I finished the book and decided that I didn’t want that to be the first book I would attempt to get published. It’s a Christmas book and it didn’t seem as marketable as another book idea that I had on the way-back burner. So, I decided that since I’d taken time away from the blog I should just launch straight into that project. Which I did… and am still doing… but it’s not done yet… and the blog has been languishing.

Eventually, the pull to come back to consistently posting to my blog became too much… and here I am. I’m back, baby! And I have a new commitment to you, the reader. I will now be posting to Super Eclectica every Wednesday come hell or high water. Why? Because it matters. Because YOU matter.

To help get things started with a bang, tomorrow I will be featuring my first blog post from a guest writer. She’s an English professor at Citrus College in Glendora, California, and she’s written an entertaining piece about how she uses “50 Shades of Gray” to teach grammar, entitled, “50 Shades of Grammar.” I guarantee you’re gonna love it.

Thanks for tuning in and I’ll be seeing you regularly!

McDonalds PlayPlace: A Parent Paradise

Several months before our twins were born I swore off fast food.  I was roughly 50 pounds heavier than I am now and I wanted to lose weight and get in shape.  I knew that once those buns were out of the oven and started running I was going to need to be in much better shape if I was going to keep up with them.

I was also one of those people who – before my kids were born – swore that I would never take them to McDonalds (or any other fast food joint).  Buuuuuuut… then we were on a road trip when the kids were two and we needed a quick bite and a place for the kids to stretch their legs.  We succumbed to stopping at a McDonalds.  No surprise – the kids loved the food, not to mention the fact that the trinkets that came with the Happy Meals absolutely blew their minds.  I mean, there were free toys!!!

That particular Mickey D’s didn’t have a PlayPlace, but it did have an enclosed patio.  There was no one else on it, so we let the kids roam while they ate.  This experience seemed to leave an indelible mark on their psyches, because every time that we passed a big yellow “M” after that we would hear a chorus of “McDonalds!!!” cheered from the back seat.

In time, we decided that McDonalds would be an okay once-in-a-while treat.  And when they did experience a McDonalds with a PlayPlace for the first time, forget about it – they were McDonalds junkies.  Whenever we would treat them to it, they would absolutely lose. their. minds.  Each visit was like Christmas morning on a sugar rush.

Cut to me becoming a stay-at-home dad.  They had recently turned three.  I get monthly allergy shots and decided that their treat for not tearing apart the doctor’s waiting room each month would be lunch at McDonalds.  Little did I know that I would become a McDonalds junkie, too.

Here’s why… McDonalds PlayPlace is Parentopia.  It is Mecca meets Nirvana meets Starbucks.  There is absolutely nothing for a parent to do at a McDonalds PlayPlace… and it’s marvelous!  The play area is safe and typically enormous.  The kids actually want to eat their lunch.  All you have to do is lean back, keep one eye on the kids, and dine on any one of too many menu items – most of which are guilty pleasures.  I could be getting a full-body massage by a babbling brook and not be as relaxed.  My kids could be at a $12-for-two-hours indoor gym and not be as happy.  Literally, you look around at the other parents and all you see are smiling faces partially obscured by smart phones.

Sure, they always forget the barbeque sauce for my son’s four-piece Chicken McNuggets, at least one of the toys is missing or wrong, and there are never enough napkins, but it’s air conditioned and offers free drink refills.

If you know of a more idyllic spot for parent/child bliss, I’m open to suggestions.  If you want to give me a hard time about treating my kids to junk food once a month, have at it.  But if you want to try to prove to me that I am wrong about McDonalds PlayPlace being Parentopia then you’re going to have a fight on your hands.

Namaste

The Birth of a Stay-At-Home Dad

I’m the featured guest blogger on the popular “Pile of Babies” blog today! A piece I wrote called “15 Things I’ve Learned From Becoming a Stay-At-Home Dad” about the education I received during my first few months as a stay-at-home dad is being showcased by the delightfully witty Meredith Bland, on her blog. I enjoyed writing the post a great deal and look forward to writing about my parenting adventures more here. If you have arrived at “Super Eclectica” from the link on “Pile of Babies” then you might also enjoy a post from earlier this week on my blog entitled, “12 Things You Say to Your Preschooler and What Your Preschooler Hears.”  Sure it’s another list, but it doubles as an English to Preschooler dictionary.

Whether you are a new or returning visitor to “Super Eclectica,” thanks so much for stopping by.  Keep checking back for posts on a variety of topics, including my new endeavor to turn my passion for writing into my full time career.

The Blog About All of It

Geez.  I’ve spent far too long – years – thinking about blog ideas and bouncing them off of people to see what popped.  Once, I was going to write a blog about mammals… all mammals all the time (it was going to be called either “Matt’s Mammals” or “MammalMania,” I couldn’t decide).  Then it was going to be a blog about better living through science (that one was going to be called “Factual Advantage” – get it?).  For a while, it was going to be a blog about making the leap into writing as a career (called “Writing with Both Feet”).  Most recently, it was going to be a blog that promotes public enthusiasm for “humanned” space travel & space outposts (entitled either “Let’s Go Boldly!” or “Peeps in Space” – the second name applying to both people and sugar-coated marshmallow chicks in space, of course). 

Last fall, I became a stay-at-home Dad.  Since then, several folks have suggested that I blog about that.  The idea appealed to me, but I saw a couple of drawbacks.  First, there are a veritable ton of Dad blogs already saturating the interwebs.  Second, I wasn’t sure that I had all that much new stuff to say about it other than it’s lots of fun, I feel lucky to have the chance to do it, and I am tired all. the. time.

Recently, I had a couple of folks that are fans of my ramblings tell me, “I really enjoy your writing.  Honestly, you would write about anything and I’d read it.”  Eureka!  I finally had the theme for my blog… all of it.

So, here’s my blog about all of it.  I hope you enjoy reading it as much as I hope to enjoy writing it.

 

(Be daring and leave a comment; it’ll make me feel like I’m not blogging into the virtual void.)