I occasionally have to remind myself how good I’ve got it as an at-home dad. While so many other parents spend their days hunched over a computer amid unreasonable bosses and arbitrary deadlines, I much prefer spending mine hunched over major appliances amid unreasonable children and arbitrary behavior.
My pay isn’t so bad (after groceries, mortgage, etc., we split the rest), and the benefits are unbeatable.
I recently spent the morning hanging out with my 4-year-old daughter at a park with other at-home dads. We enjoyed a picnic lunch beneath cloudless skies. Then I got to check out a friend’s new house and hit a new Sears outlet in search of a vacuum cleaner. The next afternoon, I pulled the patio chairs into the alley to gab with the neighbors while my kids joined a pack of a half dozen others who took turns dropping water balloons on each other.
What could be better?
Sure, it’s my job to make the lunches and do the laundry, clean the house and do the groceries. But I get to set my own schedule and work in my own little projects when I want/can. After seeing a Real Simple magazine article this month, I kicked into high gear and tamed our tiny garage. I didn’t have to wait until the weekend and then negotiate child-care duties to scrape together time for the job.
If I want to skip laundry in favor of spray painting mismatched boxes red for a uniform look in the garage, there’s nobody to tell me not to.
If it’s 4 p.m., and I want to stick my feet in the kiddie pool for an hour, I can!
If I want to have a beer while I’m ironing, I can!
If I want to talk on the phone with my sister for half an hour in the afternoon, I do.
If I want to eat lunch on the porch, it’s easy.
If there’s an emergency trip to the mechanic, I get it done.
If my wife has to work late, it’s no problem. I don’t have to leave work early to pick up the kids.
If we have a sick kid, there’s no worry about who has to take off work to go to the doctor.
My primary goal, of course, is to raise our children into responsible, independent and thoughtful adults. And I want my Lovely Bride to have a worry-free home life. Her work gives her more than enough grief, so I need to make home a sanctuary for her. Sounds kinda 50s housewife, but this is the life we’ve chosen together.
When I trained to work for the Census for four days last month, I worried more about the child jockeying than I did about the actual instruction time. I dropped them off. I picked them up. I rushed to the pediatrician to update paperwork for the backup daycare place after the woman across the street fell through.
Don’t get me wrong – my 7-year-old’s hyper-criticism of his 4-year-old sister and her ready-in-an-instant fake crying make me want to shave my head. (The thinking here is: I can’t control my children, but I can control my hair.) And any freelance writing comes only after I’ve finished housework. But rather than drag the kids to Sam’s Club after school or eat up family weekend time with a grocery run, I can do errands while the children are at school.
This sure beats office work.
What a drag.