Are You Kidding Me?

I pick strawberries, too.

My jaw dropped recently when a guy at church asked me, “So what do you do when the kids are at school?”

Seriously?!?!?!

In 2010 modern America?

You’re asking me this?

It was at a church band rehearsal, where musicians included a drummer with a newborn and a singer and at-home mom with a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old baby. The band members are a jovial bunch, good-naturedly ribbing each other. But I couldn’t tell if the guy asking me – he works at the church and is younger than I am, with a toddler, I think – was teasing or really wondered what I do when I’m not lying on the couch eating bonbons.

The at-home mom’s eyes widened as she turned to look at me.

“Well, I can have a beer at 4 o’clock whenever I want to…” I said.

He wasn’t laughing it off. I think he was serious.

“But really, I clean the house, buy the groceries, take the kids to the dentist, scrub the toilet, do the laundry, organize the basement, scrub the bathroom, cut the grass,” I said. “That keeps me pretty busy.”

I suspect the guy was trying to ask what I do professionally – or did before I became an at-home dad – but that’s not what he said. I eventually told him I’m a journalist by trade. He had wandered away by the time I mentioned that I had a paid gig  earlier this year. I actually made money!

What I forgot to tell the guy – I’m not the quickest with unplanned witty responses – was when I’m not doing those things, I fix breakfast (my waffles from scratch are awesome). I pack lunches and try not to do lots of prepackaged, processed stuff. I fix a hot supper five nights a week. I clean it all up three times a day, and I boss the cleanup of bedrooms and playrooms. I walk the dog twice a day.

I find the right soccer league for my firstborn and choose the right ballet class for my second child.

I drop my wife’s dry cleaning and pick it up. I buy the birthday presents for my kids’ friends. I find a reputable carpet cleaning operation and jam the living room rug into my car to haul it there and back. I paint the bathroom and replace the front-door light fixture. I potty train two children in a house with no first-floor bathroom (I’m long done with that one – whew!).

And then I volunteer at my son’s school. I dig worms from my compost bin for his first-grade class’s science experiments. I pay the bills. I get the car inspected at the place way the heck across town. I hunt down overdue library books by the dozen and try to schmooze my way out of paying the fines.

Individually, none of these tasks are especially difficult. But focusing on any one thing for more than five minutes without interruption – now that’s the hard part.

Oh, and when I’m not doing all that, I’m busy actually rearing my children. I mediate endless ridiculous disputes. I determine whether an offense requires a timeout or is merely worthy of an admonition. I make them get dressed and brush their teeth. I hold them still long enough to comb their hair – well, my daughter, at least. I take them to a weekly gathering of at-home dads and kids, which they’ve come to think as so normal that our son asked one time, “How old do mommies have to be to go to law school?”

I teach them manners (read: pound into their thick little skulls) and get them not to talk like rotten little potty-mouthed kids. I try to train them not to want lots of TV or computer time and instead think up their own things to play, preferably outside. (Now we’re getting to the more abstract stuff that’s a lot harder to figure out.) I try to instill enough (but not too much) of a sense of danger when my 7-year-old plays outside out of my view that he won’t get hit by a car or abducted.

Yep, I do that, too.

When I’m not eating bonbons.

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5 responses to “Are You Kidding Me?

  1. You’re an awesome dad – enjoy a 4:00 beer. You deserve it!

  2. Hey…don’t bogart the bonbons!

  3. As a part-time stay at home dad with a 19 month old, I do the majority of the same things you do day in and day out to help maintain my home. The problem I’m having is “Stay at home dad” envy. I’ve been at home with our son since his birth. My wife went back to work after 3 to 4 months of maternity leave. Since than I’ve been the main caretaker for our son throughout the day. last Febuary my former job called saying the my old position was opened and it was permanent with benefits working 3 1/2 days a week 12hrs shifts at night wed-sat! I discussed this with my wife and we agreed that this would help with our finances and get me back on the horse and some well needed adult time. Well, this worked out perfect for us because we also didn’t want our son in daycare due to every other person we talked to who has their child in daycare is ALWAYS SICK!! Plus that fact that until he can actually say or show mommy and daddy who hurt him in daycare, we wanted to keep him out. With this shift I work 6pm until 6am. I have an hour commute to come home to a wife who’ trying to get our of the door to go to work herself so i’m rushing to help her by making a quick breakfast, getting coffee together, checking to see if she needs any help all while tippy toeing through my home so I don’t wake of my 19 month old. Once I’m finished and my wifes successfully out of the door, who just happens to wake up maybe a 1/2 hour later but my son and he ready to start his day. I run with him and doing my normal errands until 1:30pm 2:00pm than we can take a nap. we sleep for maybe 2 to 2 1/2 hrs than I’m up again getting dressed, and making a quick snack for our son before the babysitter arrives for an hr to watch our son until my wife get’s home and I’m out the door heading back to work for another 12hrs shift. On most accassions I can handle the routine. i catch up on a good bit of sleep on my off days Sun-Wed. The issues is while running around with my son we do a lot of things together and my wife hates that fact that she doesn’t have the time to do these things with our son until the weekend. I can’t share certain events with her because she gets jealous muchless when a good bit of her friends are “Stay at home” moms and are alway’s posting on Facebook and emails about all of the good times they’re having with their children. I keep trying to tell my wife that thier omitting the lions share of all of the other 10,000 things we have to do to avoid our working spouses from coming home after an 8 to 10 hr day and dealing with home chores! Not to mention also dealing with relationship issues on top of everything elses. We’ve been battling some serious issues lately both work and personnal and as a couple we’re SERIOUSLY mis-firing and it’s starting to get to a boiling point. If anyone reading this has experienced any of the things I’m going through and have weathered the storm PLEAESE any suggestions you may have will be HIGHLY appreciated. Thanks for letting me bend an ear.

  4. Pingback: This Shuts Me Up (For Awhile) | The B-More Dad Blog

  5. Pingback: This Shuts Me Up (Again) | The B-More Dad Blog

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