The stay-at-home-dad “thing,” and a farewell

For much of the past three years, I’ve been a stay-at-home dad.

They say it’s one of the fastest-growing segments in our society, that it’s trendy, that it is the wave of the future. I don’t know about all that. I do know that for our family, it was not the first choice.

As I’m sure I have mentioned, Abbey and I moved from central Louisiana to Anderson, Indiana in summer of 2010. I left the only home I’ve ever known, all my family and friends and a job I really liked — okay, mostly liked — and came to this cold, different place. I couldn’t get a handle on it at all. That was a bad year. Abbey’s father died, our car was broken into, we lived in a rental house that smelled like sewage and we were hundreds of miles away from our closest family. I had an extremely demanding job an hour’s drive away, so I was gone 12-15 hours a day. I had no anchor at all. I was profoundly depressed and lost.

Miles came along in July 2011 and changed everything. The circumstances that led me to leave that job were difficult, but I can honestly say it was one of the best decisions I have ever made. Of course, I am lucky in that Abbey had the earning power to support our family, because my piddly freelance earnings weren’t good for more than a few trips to the grocery store.

However, staying home with Miles was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It was rough at first – guilt, feelings of inadequacy, all that stuff you would think a man might feel in that position. But what I came to realize is that staying home with kids — even one kid — is HARD.FREAKING.WORK. It also completely absorbs your being.

And now I find myself getting ready to do it all over again with Owen, our two-month-old. Abbey returns to work next week and will soon take over as The Courier and Press’s lifestyles editor. I am proud of her, and although there is a tinge of guilt at not matching her on the financials, I know that what I’m doing is important.

But it will be one mega-balancing act some days. I’ve written enough stories on deadline with Miles literally hanging all over me to know it’s not going to be any easier with two munchkins on my hands. I’ll probably be stressed to the limit sometimes. But that’s not something that really scares me anymore.

I’ll probably never be one of those dads that grocery shops with a baby in one of those carrier things strapped to my chest, worry-warting over whether their food has GMO or preservatives in it. I’m not likely to be attending any stay-at-home dad conventions. It’s just not my style.

I’m also not going to be one of those dads who stays at home after the kids are both in school. I don’t plan to do this forever. Somewhere down the road, the right career opportunity will present itself again. But right now, when the kids are little, I really do feel like the best possible thing for them is to be at home. They’ll be going to work and school for the rest of their lives. I love the idea that they get to be at home and just be kids for now.

(I also love not paying through the nose for daycare. Sometimes, I wonder if I had a full-time job how much financial difference it would really make. The answer is probably not much. Such is the way of the world these days.)

And I love that I get to bond with them and teach them weird things. After all, I do have the only three-year-old boy in the world who knows all the words to Rush’s “Fly by Night” and agrees that the Atlanta Falcons are — and I quote — “yucky.”

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As I mentioned earlier, Abbey will be returning to work next week, which means that this blog will be handed over to its rightful owner. I enjoyed filling in during her absence and hopefully managed to hold your attentions. Who knows, maybe I will fill in from time to time with dazzling and bizarre tales from a household with too many Y chromosomes.

Thanks for reading.

– Michael

 

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