Thursday, March 28, 2013
I did it for the boogers and if I had it to do again, I would. No regrets.
Wednesday, March 27, 2013
|Original stock photo by Petr Kratochvil http://www.publicdomainpictures.net/view-image.php?image=5758 Captions by me. Ribbons instead of dye by some unknown genius.|
Tuesday, March 26, 2013
Where am I now? Do I run my own firm? Am I an executive with a fortune 500 company? Not exactly. I’m sitting on my couch typing away in my boxers while my son naps and my daughter entertains herself with a craft I set her to work on a few minutes ago. While trying to write, I’m worried about deadlines. There is an overflowing laundry basket (or 3), a floor that needs vacuuming and a dinner to be prepared but I need to get some thoughts down. I don’t get stressed about these things; I handle it like I did in my previous position. Take a look at what has to be done, estimate the time needed to do them, prioritize tasks and tackle them. You see, my second career is well underway as a full-time Stay Home Dad. My wife and I decided the right thing for our family was to set aside my less lucrative career so we could travel and live as nomads of the world as needed for her higher-paying consulting career.
I dabbled in part time work with online background investigations once I was in my groove as a stay home parent of one. I tried it because I was thinking what so many people seem fond of saying in one way or another, “Stay home Dads Can Never Really Be Content” the job is not meant for Men (at least not a real man, "a man’s man"). Given the demands of looking after a toddler, and with little time to spare, I found the part-time work to be tedious and felt it was taking away from my primary focus so I stopped taking assignments before our second child was born. The money I was making was negligible and the job did not bring me to a Zen-like place so I let it go.
These days I try to make people laugh on my blog, nothing too serious, no money to be made to speak of (unless this article launches me to the status of internet celebrity) and no business plan on the table. I thoroughly enjoy the creative outlet because it is not a job for me, it is a hobby. I already have a full time job. Whether Dad On The Run becomes more or not, it does not define me, the footprint I leave on the world is what defines me. I’m a man in addition to, not in spite of, being a stay home parent. Some may disagree with me on the best way to impact the world, but we should be able to agree there are many, many parts to play in our story and they are filled by men and women with differing motivations, needs, values and perceptions. What we’re saying as a society when we tie contentment to a job is that some jobs are lowly, as are the people who do them, and other jobs are worthwhile. We’re saying there is a line in the list of occupational choices you can’t cross if you are to be satisfied with your life as a man. We’re saying that if an Army veteran chooses to turn down a lucrative job and become a stay home parent that he’s taking a step down, that he is less of a man. How can that be? If we put the position of stay home parent below that imaginary line then we belittle all the people who do that job now and have done it through the ages. If you say a Man can’t be content in this position but a Woman can, then you are suggesting men’s ambition and drive to impact the world is greater than women’s and being an at-home parent is not impactful. On both of those counts, I call bullshit.
Repeat after me, “Stay home parenting is a job and it is fulfilling.” Of course there are stark differences in the day to day between my new career and the previous corporate occupation, like the fact I am now under a literal barrage of crap rather than a metaphorical one. There are less water cooler talks and more pillow forts, fewer meetings and more tea parties, not as many performance reviews and way more roughhousing. My commute is a lot easier but the noise level is… oppressive. However, there are also things which parallel with my old job. Managing people is a skill and it is challenging; no matter the age or size of the people it is largely the same animal. Continually working to expand the training and education of those I supervise remains a large part of my day (though there is now slightly less whining and crying when it comes to corrective action). I also constantly review process management/improvement in my new career. For example, I examine where to put the clothes to facilitate dressing quickly, how/when to fold laundry quickly, how to most effectively navigate other routines like getting little people dressed, fed and out the door, bedtime preparation, craft-time clean-ups, etc. Scheduling remains a large part of the job: how do I make time to stay healthy (though completely lacking in discernible abs), get kids to school and activities, foster socialization through play dates, and maintain a network/support system without co-workers? Stay home parents juggle these routines with frequent medical appointments, keeping school/park/gym activity registrations current, making time for grocery shopping and meal planning… don’t even get me started on meal planning. What I am trying to illustrate here is that I am still a manager, I still have a job. That is my skill set; it is what I’m good at and probably where I will look for compensated employment when my tenure as a stay home Dad comes to an end.
I don’t worry about starting a third career, I’m not stressed about the time I have lost, the opportunity for advancement I have missed, or the lack of expansion of my knowledge in a marketable field. I entered this career willingly and I believe the skills it will provide and the dividends it will pay outweigh anything I could have gained on the corporate ladder. My time as a caregiver has changed my outlook. I don’t need to make a certain amount of money (thanks to my wife’s continued success in her own career). I don’t need to change the world by rolling out a new product or selling one to the masses. I don’t need to interview a rock and roll drummer to feel complete; I might be raising one.
Who knows what my children will become? Talk about exploring an unknown frontier and going where no man has gone before! I’m beyond satisfied knowing when I am done here I will have changed the world for the better even if I never punch a clock again. I will have raised children with infinite potential for changing the world in their own rite and I will have shown them how to raise yet another generation in an environment fostering independence, honor, a thirst for learning and an appreciation of the not-so-obvious way so many people impact the world positively every day.
My daughter might become president or she may choose to raise her children while her significant other works at a paid job. I will love and respect her in either case or an infinite number of other scenarios. Her happiness is my goal and I know her impact on the world will not be measured by the lines on a resume or the zeros on her paycheck. My son might write a best-selling novel, be an expert in anthropology or “just” be an expert domestic caregiver. I have no idea which direction they will take, but I do know that it makes me feel good to do this for them and I am grateful that we have the financial ability for a parent to be there for them day in and day out in these formative years. The cherry on top of my job satisfaction is that I am changing for the better in ways I could not have imagined; so please don’t tell me I can’t be content with what I have.
The secret to fulfillment as a stay home parent is in making parenting your job. You don’t just spend time taking care of the kids and leaning in to the stack of household duties; you spend your time thinking about, researching, and implementing practices to be the best parent you can be and there is always more to take in. Anyone who thinks there is more to learn about production, marketing, analyzing inventory, managing a group of employees or even rocket propulsion than there is to discover about how to successfully raise a child has completely missed the point of the exercise. If that is the way you feel then I agree you will never be fulfilled as a full-time stay home parent, if you think the job is menial, simple and beneath you then it shall be. The job is what you make of it. If you do understand the challenges and the task at hand and you rise to the occasion then you might come to see that raising children IS your life's work.
I’m among the bottom 1% of writers when it comes to compensation and I’m probably in the bottom 5% for 6-pack abs as well, but I’m in the top .05% of job satisfaction and contentment in my life and there's no bracket I'd rather be in. Anyone, trying to define what contentment looks like for all men, or women for that matter, needs to have their head examined. It’s not a competition and we don’t need to hold our lives up to one another for comparison. There are many shades of man and a fulfilled life and I don't presume to tell men what will make them happy or content, I'm just here to tell the world that I Father Full Time and I am happy and content.
In other news, as you may have picked up on yesterday, it is spring break from J Bean's preschool. We got ready and made it to the school yesterday but we were the only ones there. To a 4 year old, this is the equivalent of being told you are going to Disney and then finding a padlock across the gates of the Magic Kingdom, so I spent the rest of the morning trying to pull J Bean out of her funk. Meanwhile, a little piece of my soul was run through the trash compactor because I was expecting a break during Link's nap and had none. Spring break used to be awesome... what happened? Maybe I should make jello shots. Lets see... what else... Link is walking better and looks like a "walker" from my favorite zombie show now as he drunk stumbles around the room with stiff legs and a smile like a goat eating briars. I can't tell you how excited I am that he can reach new things and is learning to climb like a tiny chimpanzee. I wonder if they make straight jackets in 12-18mo size?
Lastly, in store today is a serious article from yours truly. Its long form, its angry, its defensive and its probably pointless, but it provided a much needed catharsis and I just hope it reaches the screen of that self-important douche-bag who dared to question the contentedness of stay home dads and by proxy questioned the importance of the stay home parenting job for all who do it. You don't mess with my stay home Parenting Partners. It makes this lighthearted, wanna-be comedian angry... and you wouldn't like me when I'm angry. So stay tuned for that bloviation later on and get a cup of coffee, a beer or a glass or wine when you read it, because its probably going to make this post look like a footnote. Enjoy your Tuesday folks!
P.S. Bobo4, still alive. Go figure.
Monday, March 25, 2013
We decided on a yogurt and headed to the front. J Bean chattered excitedly asking if I had heard what they said and asking me to repeat it a few times. I wasn't sure why she was so excited, just hearing her name through the PA system I guessed. When we reached the cashier, J Bean looked around quizzically and asked, "Where's our party? They said there was a party waiting for us."
Now that's not the kind of disappointment I wanted to deal with and I imagined how it must feel to a 3 year (at the time) to be promised a party and to have nothing but beeping cash registers and grumpy adults waiting in line. Not missing a beat, I told her the party was going to be at Grandma's house, they just didn't want us to be late. I circled back to the bakery, picked up a few balloons, and a pack of cupcakes. When we made it home, we cranked some music and had an impromptu party. The lesson here is to never pass up a chance for a cupcake and a party.
With that, it's time for an installment of "I Like to Move it", the one in which we all step away from the phone or laptop and grab your wee ones for a morning dance party! Shake it like your pants are on fire! I thought this one would be fitting given the day and the morning's Blue Man theme:
Sunday, March 24, 2013
All you'll have to do if you win is provide me with your name and address (No P.O. Boxes please) and I'll have them ship it out to you. So here's what I'm thinking. Rack your brain for Hobbit trivia (freshen up by playing their game or perusing the Hobbit handbook) and share with us here on the blog --Not On Facebook-- how your child most likely resembles any character of the The Hobbit. Imagination and humor will be rewarded among our reader/voters I'm sure. I'll select the top 10 and put them up for voting on March 31st and select a winner on April 2nd. The window above has everything you need to know and its a cool little place to explore the movie and get ideas for the contest! Tweets, Shares, Pins, Likes and +'s are always appreciated.
**FTC Disclosure: Promotion Prizing provided and shipped by PartnerHub on behalf of Warner Bros.
I'm planning to make this another recurring series, so I need YOUR help. When you see one of those SomeEcards, that mentions Moms or women and you think it might apply for something like this, please share it on my wall. Thanks! I'm not looking to poke fun at Moms at all, I just like to point out that a lot of the "Mom" issues are actually Stay Home Parent issues. Please share if you like it and help me find others that would be silly/funny if they were were about a stay home Dad instead of a stay home Mom! Thanks!
Another addition to the ongoing "When Toys Get Hurt" series.
I'm not sure what happened here, but I blame Barbie. You can't sunbathe nude next to the highway, just an accident waiting to happen, its bound to cause a Woody accident sooner or later.
Saturday, March 23, 2013
Thursday, March 21, 2013
I noticed some of the kids, including J Bean, were getting upset at the change in plans despite her earlier protests of being "too sick" for school. I decided to swallow my neuroses and ask a few of the parents (all Moms except for me) if they wanted to bring their kids over to our place to play for a while and have a pot of coffee to ease the passing of the disappointment (ours).
The problem: In my head, I'm going over every speck of trash on the floor, every dirty dish in the sink, every piece of loose laundry and questioning the status of the aroma of the house as I'm telling people to come over.
My house isn't really bad but it was not freshly cleaned and I'm sure all those "in charge" of keeping a house up are occasionally worried about what others may think. This is further complicated for me when it comes to a crew of Moms, because I start to think they'll be quick to judge my suitability as a person who cares for children if I have a dirty floor for some stupid reason. Turns out (as I should have known) what is far more important is that we are all caregivers of small children- We're members of the Parenting Club together... Parenting Partners if you will. Those Moms just wanted to hang out, shoot the shit, drink some coffee and let the kids entertain each other and they didn't give a hoot about a few spit up stains here and there, dishes on the counter, an overfull trashcan and a cluttered living room. I guess what I'm trying to say is; Moms and Dads have a lot more in common than we often think. My house was a little messier when the play-date was said and done, I was jittery from the extra java and (as you know) Link ended up getting a jolt of his own, but I really enjoyed the time and the kids had a blast. None of these Moms follow my page because I never mentioned it and I never really thought it would be their kind of entertainment, but I think I was mistaken.
J Bean has taken recently to claiming illness for no good reason and giving me her medical opinion that, "she has the flu and I need IbooBroofen to make me feel better." Given the ongoing plague outbreak in our house, this is troublesome because its hard to dismiss without further investigation. You know how it goes, there's no fever, no runny nose so is she serious about her symptoms and how do I know?
A few weeks ago at the height of her hypochondria, I asked J Bean what type of symptoms she had and she gave me some vague complaints about her elbow hurting and her hair feeling extra staticky. Using my extensive medical knowledge I decided this was probably a farce, so I decided to plant a red herring while I had the chance. "You know," I said, "When someone is coming down with the flu usually the backs of their knees will start to itch a lot"
My little actress said with no pause and faux surprise, "MY knee backs are itching!" I told her I didn't think she needed Ibuprofen and that she could have a vitamin and some lotion for her legs. Her shoulders shrugged. The thing is though, I can ask her about symptoms now and if it's the real deal she'll usually whine and reach for words to help describe a sore throat or nausea that she doesn't quite know how to articulate... but when she's just looking for some tasty meds, some extra sympathy, or to get out of something she'll often inform me she has "itchy knees" and I'll just smile and offer some "alternative remedy" which usually includes an extra hug, a drink of cold water, a hair tousling and some words of encouragement.
Wednesday, March 20, 2013
I've been slacking on my "I Like to Move It" recurring posts where I post a kid-friendly song for you to shake and wiggle to with your little ones. It's a good time to put off the chores, put down that phone, close that laptop go ahead and pop on your favorite station, playlist, CD, tape, vinyl or 8 track and put down the laptop/phone for a while. Have a dance party, you won't regret it. All the grumpy cat posters, count-the-shapes games, name a day with the letter "Y" quizes, fellow facebookers talking about our coffee and the proclamations of TGIF can wait. Trust me.
I scheduled this post for the dance time which I have already blocked in my calendar, so when you see this in this your feed know that I am already doing the rump shaker with J Bean and Link. Didn't know I could do that did you (dance and put posts on layaway)? I do play with my kids occasionally. I actually do a lot of my writing/creating at night and then just participate in comments on my phone when the day presents a moment of peace.
#1 rule of Dad Bloggin': When presented the choice between writing about parenting and parenting always go with the latter.
...but I digress. Dance!
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Parenting Truth #271: As the number of mouths to feed increases, so does the chaos of mealtime.
One Baby - Gourmet home cooking or take out for the parents. The baby is fed face to face, strapped in with a bib on and eating organic/homemade fresh produce puree.
Two children - Make a healthy meal for the older one and the parents, whatever baby food was on sale for the little one can be fed to him/her in the highchair while you buzz around the kitchen.
Three children - Cheesy Mac, chicken nuggets, fruit and a vegetable for the older kids. Mom and Dad get to pick through the leftovers. Baby eats banana and whatever else you think he/she will like and not spew on the floor while you are trying to prepare the other meals. He's not strapped in, just hanging on to your pants leg making movement next to impossible.
Four children - Parents drinking their lunches. Elder child enlisted to make PB&J's for the middle kids. Baby amazingly gets fed in highchair again while Mom or Dad line up shooters.
Five children - Throw a loaf of bread and a pack of bologna in the room with all the walkers. Mom or Dad shares baby food with the youngest and wonders if he/she should take another Xanax.
Six Children - The children seem to fend for themselves for the most part, hard to tell because you've lost count. Parent and children who are smart enough to shadow him/her get some frozen pizza or ice cream.
Seven children - Porridge maybe? I don't know what they do. I'm assuming there is some sort of meals on wheels program for these poor souls.
Eight or more Children - Meals catered on the set of your own reality show.
Take away... all or nothing. Stop at one or push through to 8. Otherwise, your diet and sanity will suffer.
There are times with multiple kids when you wonder, "Why did we do this? What were we thinking? Make them stop, I just want bathroom privacy. I can't take this much longer!" There are times when they alternate crying/screaming for hours or when they scream together for some kind of tortuous harmony from the pits of Hell. You may whimper, "Why can't you nap at the same time? Or at all? Do you think 4 years is too young for boarding school?"
One day though, one day you will realize there are a few times a day when no one is biting your toes through your socks, crying for a diaper change or throwing toys at you and the house is slightly quieter than a Chuck E Cheese at lunch on a Saturday. That is when you will uncover your eyes and head, look across the room and see the wee ones playing together. No one in a head lock, no fingers in orifices, and no blood anywhere. Smile to yourself knowingly. This may not last long and there are still plenty of the aforementioned joys of parenting to come, but it is a sign and a beacon in darkest night to those expecting to increase their brood or learning to deal with a new arrival. That sign says: It Will Get Better.
(as with most other phases in parenthood, it will probably then get worse again, but for a little while at least it will get better)
Just a little silver lining for your morning. Now Link is pulling J Bean's hair and she looks like she is about to try the Karate Kid crane kick on him, so I should probably intervene.
Monday, March 18, 2013
I always see sippy cups advertised as "spill proof." How about "backwash proof", I mean look at this. How do you even get that much food down through the valve and straw!? Which brings me to:
Parenting Truth #342: At some point you will be thirsty and your child will have a drink. You might think, "Hey, I can just take a sip of his/her drink." Don't do that. See the picture below? This is with a sippy cup, it can be even worse with a regular cup. You do not want to drink after your children. Ever.
Me, "When you are old like me, sometimes taking a break and resting is more fun than playing. Can you believe that?"
"What do you think you will like to do when you are older?"
"I will watch adult movies!"
"It's important to have goals."
Thursday, March 14, 2013
I think he died of my procrastination, its hard to find time to clean a fish bowl frequently with kids. Dammit, not feeling great about this one. Good night, parenting partners.
Bobo is dead, Jim. Not to fear I headed out to the pet store while J Bean was eating breakfast (luckily Vv was working from home today). Look, It's a miracle! It also gave me the chance to stop by Dunkin Donuts for breakfast and coffee, it's kind of a win win. Well, except for Bobo. Kind of a lose lose for him, but for me not bad. Vv reminded me this was already Bobo #2 anyway, so this is #3
All's well that ends well, I suppose. I'll have to pour out a few betta pellets for my homey Bobo2 though.
Bobo4, who was just installed yesterday and has already outlived his predecessor.
Bobo4 is looking a mite maladious.
Wednesday, March 13, 2013
Daddy Dictionary entry:
Pankles: [Pang-kuhls] noun
The result of not holding a infant/toddlers legs tightly while changing a stool filled diaper. The back of the ankles touch the feces and become coated. A combination of the words "poop" and "ankles"
(See Also: poopsmear)
Example: Oh shit! He kicked his legs and now he has pankles!!! Help! Never mind, too late, it's on me.
Origin: Believed to have originated with the first diaper. Before diapers, "poopfeet" were much more common and personal hygiene standards were significantly lower.
Update 8/16/2013: Pankles can also result from an over-full diaper and a crouching toddler. Crouching Toddler Hidden Poop (sounds like a great action movie). Here is the actual update I made on Facebook today. True Story:
A good question would be, "Why is Link in the shower and getting his teeth brushed at 10am?"
I spotted him chewing on something. "Bring me that, Buddy, what ya got?" I asked.
He put a tiny grape skin in my hand. I thought to myself, "We didn't have grapes today, where'd he get that? IS that a grape? Let me give it a sniff... Oh crap! It smells like crap! Oh geez, his diaper is full. He's been diaper diving! NOOO! Oh gross. I'm holding a grape skin he's already digested... He has poop on his ankles. (see Daddy dictionary entry for "pankles"). It's on his hands, it's on my hands, it's on the floor, it's everywhere!"
I'm going to be sanitizing my house for the rest of the day. In related news, does being a parent immunize us against gross out nausea? I think any sane, childless person would have lost their cookies over that one. Have a good one Parenting Partners!
Tuesday, March 12, 2013
I can't begin to tell you how excited I am that the "hopping down the bunny trail" 100 decibel-singing-freaking-dancing Easter bunny toy that Grandma gave us three years ago is still going strong. Why is it that the batteries in TV remotes, smoke detectors, watches, even my car seem to go bad so much quicker than the ones in this long-eared spawn of Satan? I think I just solved the world's energy problems, run everything on the batteries in this S.O.B. I've stayed my hand on executing this smiling blue bastard for years because J Bean loves to dance with him, but his demise may be close at hand. I can't risk Link falling under his spell.
Monday, March 11, 2013
Earlier, I was cleaning up in the kitchen while Link buzzed around my feet trying his best to help, which (as you know) is more of a hindrance than anything especially when loading and unloading the lower rack of the dishwasher and trying to sweep up. He was fussing more than a little and I wanted to wrap it up so I banished him to and blockaded him in the living room for a few minutes. I headed back to the kitchen, but the house started to sound even more like an acapella death metal concert than usual. Piercing. Tortuous. Migraine inducing.
Normally, this plays out with J Bean jumping around and trying to distract Link while he continues to yell and cry only the house gets louder because she starts yelling/singing loudly in an attempt to drown him out. This time, she grabbed a keyboard and started pushing buttons for children's song samples and singing along. Link immediately stopped crying and within a few moments was laughing. I peaked around the corner wondering what type of sorcery was afoot and I saw that he was doing some kind of booty shake and trying to hit the keys while J Bean DJ'ed and sang to him. Not only that, but they were both thoroughly entertained for 10-15 minutes. After a few months of Link's clingy, needy, yelling, crying, Cthulu phase I am ready for a break. It may not be over, but this could be the start of a great new stage where the siblings play with each other without injuring each other seriously. Today is not going to suck.
Tuesday, March 5, 2013
Parenting Truth #48: There is no such thing as "child proof." There is only child resistant.
As soon as you think you have the house proofed for your child(ren) he/she will learn a new trick like standing, climbing, walking, running or plotting with a sibling to destroy your illusion of safety. Nothing is out of reach once a child learns to stack and climb. Anyone know where I can buy a Nerf house?
Saturday, March 2, 2013
Parents: You Touched Poop
(Genesis: Invisible Touch)