In the Valley of Dudes: Stay At Home Dad Tells All

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Being a stay at home dad is weird. People ask me all the time what it’s like to stay home with my kids while my wife contributes to the Gross National Product every day, and the best way I can describe it is, “weird.” Not because I’m a man and she’s a woman—that’s not the weird part. The truth is, I know lots of stay at home dads. (We call ourselves SAHD’s. Pronounced “sad.”) I live in the “Valley of Dudes” where women work and men cook and change diapers. We all have beards, rarely wear closed-toed shoes, and find good excuses to get together and drink beers in the afternoon. Suck it, dudes with jobs!

There’s nothing weird about that. What’s weird, is hanging out with two five year old kids all day, everyday. Let me explain.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…A lot like being a camp counselor. I spend a lot of time teaching my kids how to ride their bikes or swim. For most of our activities, the kids need to wear protective helmets. In the afternoons, I try to keep them from launching frogs off of homemade catapults.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Being surprised and a little ashamed by how much you like watching My Little Ponies.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Having your pockets full of rocks, flowers and half eaten cookies. All the fucking time.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Writing angry letters to McDonalds because they put these huge damned holes in the top of their milkshake lids that are five times bigger than they should be. Why McDonalds? Why such big holes? So my kids can more easily paint the interior of my mini van with their strawberry milkshakes?

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Convincing yourself that your kids are old enough to watch The Goonies so that you can spend a Tuesday afternoon watching The Goonies.

…It’s having a bubble wrap dance party. Step 1) put a bunch of bubble wrap on the floor. Step 2) Play Madonna.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Catching your kids in the midst of doing something diabolical, like, say, walking out on the back deck with a chair, a bucket full of water and some rope. And they won’t give you a straight answer as to what exactly they’re going to do with the chair, rope and bucket of water. They just keep telling you not to worry. “It’s healthy.” You will thwart similar diabolical plans at least seven times a day.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Calling out for your daughter 13 times a day, only to find her dancing and singing in front of a mirror. Every. Single. Time.

…It’s spending the morning throwing paper airplanes into a laundry basket. While wearing bunny ears.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Making three separate meals every night because one kid thinks she’s a vegetarian, the other is on a strict Paleo diet, and your wife will only eat food that’s orange.

…It’s creating elaborate sticker charts that reinforce “good” behavior but really, are just designed to make your life easier. Get daddy a beer from the fridge—get a sticker. Walk on daddy’s back—get a sticker. Mow the lawn but tell mommy that daddy mowed the lawn—get a sticker.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Riding your daughter’s pink scooter through the neighborhood all by yourself, so she can ride that same scooter home from school. Like a boss. Then googling “adult scooters” while you wait for your kids to get out of school because you had so much fun riding the pink scooter, but you’re a grown ass man, so you think you should have a scooter that’s suitable for a grown ass man. Something with skulls on it or naked lady mud flaps.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Getting a manicure on rain days while reading comic books and drinking a beer. #glitterfingers.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…Trying to figure out if I should get frustrated or be proud when my daughter signs her name for a school paper but gets distracted mid signature and spends five minutes turning the “i” into a pony.

Being a stay at home dad is…

…finding new places to hide the glitter glue, which is the bane of my existence. How do they keep finding the damn glitter glue?

Being a stay at home dad is NOT…

…a job. Don’t let anyone tell you taking care of the kids all day is a job. That’s bullshit. As far as I can tell, people get paid for jobs. I receive no monetary compensation for my hours of toil. Will I get a gold watch when my kids go to college? What’s the pension like? Do I get two weeks off every year? Hell no. Being a stay at home dad is work, but it’s not a job.

 

 

 

 

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I Love You When You’re Fat or Welcome Home Daddy

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As a kid, I remember waiting for my dad to get home from work every afternoon. This was back when people used to get home from work at 5:30 like clockwork. Actually, shit, this was back when people used to have real jobs instead of just running boutique letterpress studios out of their basement, or quilting, or handing out business cards that say “Project Manager.”

Anyway, I’d sit by the kitchen window and watch for his car to pull up, then run as fast as I could out to the driveway to give him a hug.

It’s not often that I “go to work.” Usually, I just sit at the kitchen table trying to ignore the chaos that erupts from two five year olds with little parental supervision. Sometimes they play cards quietly. Sometimes they try to figure out what will happen if they put action figures in the toaster. Often, they do “parkour” in the living room, performing somersaults over the cat.

In other words, shit gets crazy. When it gets really crazy, I retreat to a coffee shop and leave the kids with my wife or a baby sitter or some random lady that I find walking by the house who’s willing to watch the kids in exchange for free wifi and all the microwavable popcorn she can eat.

Working in coffee shops has a couple of advantages. 1) I live in a weird town and weird people congregate in coffee shops in the middle of the day. So I get to watch old ladies in ornate, peacock-inspired hats look at vampire porn magazines Seriously. I see this lady at the coffee shop all the time. She’s like 80. Loves vampire porn. And peacock hats 2) I get to pretend like I’m a dad from the ‘80s who goes to work and comes home to a loving family. Punching the time clock. Contributing to the gross national product. Working towards my pension. That’s me.

Occasionally my kids will run out to greet me in the front yard, just like I did to my dad as a kid. It’s a big thrill, and it makes all the hours toiling away trying to think of synonyms for “velvety” worth it.

Anyway, one night recently I get home from “work,” and my daughter runs out to me and gives me a big hug, then pulls back, looks me over, and says, “daddy.”

I say, “Yes, honey?”

And she says, “I love you when you’re fat.”

And I say, “What do you mean, honey?”

And she says, “I like it when you’re skinny here (pointing to my shoulders and chest) and fat right here (point to my belly).”

Okay. So much for the loving family. I didn’t take it too hard though, mainly because my daughter is bat shit crazy. Two seconds later, she finished the conversation with this gem: “Also, my body is like a video game. When it goes like this, ‘beep,’ that means I won.”

Then she ran off to play with her brother. Occasionally I’d hear her beep from the playroom. I guess that means she won.

Welcome home, daddy.