So let’s take a trip down memory lane, if you will. Harken back to the days of simpler time as young, dumb teenager ready to take on the world, just one keg stand and frat party at a time … as a freshman in college.
It’s day one of the rest of your life and the parental unit is dropping you off to leave you on your own as a pseudo-adult. They finally close the door behind them and leave you to take on the world without mommy around to handle your dirty drawers every day.
At first, there’s that initial feeling of relief. Because ya know, parents always tend to linger a little too long in those situations.
Then the feeling of “fuck yeah, I’m on my own now and it’s time to party and I’ll never have to clean my room again.”
And then the fear sets in as you ponder, “Holy shit, can I really do this? You mean, I actually have to like, do this on my own?”
Despite all the parties and the responsibilities and crazy adventures that define our college years, we do manage to keep our heads on straight. Okay, well, some peeps may need a few extra semesters to finally get that whole graduation thing right, but the moral of the story is … we do eventually make it as adults. I guess.
Anywho, now that I’m all sorts of grown up as a real life adult and stuff, I had no choice but think back to those first few moments of college, as my wife made her triumphant return to work. A few short (18 years) after those emotions bubbled up when my parents left me at school, the same emotions resurfaced in a similar fashion as Angela shut the door behind her to signal the end of her maternity leave: Relief. Excitement. And downright fear.
Thus, a new chapter was opened in my life and a new badge added to my flair in my role as a dad … who stays at home. In colloquial terms … a stay at home dad.
Alright, so technically, I’m a work-from-home dad. I run this blog, do some freelance marketing and have a semi-awesome job as a voiceover actor where I record audiobooks and cool shit like commercials. So I make some income and stuff.
But, I am at home. All day. With a baby, who is my kid. Which makes me a dad. Who stays at home. With his kid.
Boom goes the dynamite.
It’s funny the wave of emotions that come over you as the wifey leaves for the first time. There was this instant gripping fear and anxiety that flooded my system with that self-doubt that takes over. As if for the previous three months I had never changed a diaper or fed my daughter.
And just like those days in college, there really was a moment of celebratory exuberance as I paused to realize that I basically got the house to myself again. Well, kinda. I mean, there is that whole three-month old offspring that is hanging out in her MamaRoo just waiting for a little bit of attention; but this does officially make me the dude in charge for the next eight hours.
Then there was a sneaky little feeling that set in shortly after that whole excitement thing wore off: Loneliness. Yeah, I said it. You’ll never realize how pretty freaking dope it is to spend extended periods of time with your soulmate and best friend until she has to return to work and leave for a third of the day.
While we had some crazy-ass experiences in the first few weeks of our child’s existence on this planet, we rebounded and finished strong to have a pretty amazing time together as a new family to close out her maternity. And now it’s all on me.
Just like a batter with two outs in the bottom of the ninth and the pressure of the series on me, I have no choice but to rise to the occasion and knock this one out of the park.
A year ago my daily routine was popping up early to hit the keyboard and work on some ways to market my at-home small business. Now my mornings consist of popping up to make sure my daughter is all set with a dry diaper and ready for that first bottle of the day. Then it’s on to the keyboard to bang out a few thousand words. And then it’s back to the little one for some more much-needed attention – usually in the form of a bottle and a wardrobe change
Throughout the day, the bottles are on me. The tummy time is on me. The diapers are on me – like literally “on me” sometimes. Blowout diapers are real, my friends. And they are nasty. And they are gonna happen no matter how much or little you try to prepare for them. But, I’ll save that drama for another post.
Every seemingly little responsibility is not so small when you are the only one around to handle the situation. So yeah, there was that one day when was all like, “why the fuck did I sign up for this?” There was the other day that I felt like my daughter was basically trolling me with her I need-a-bottle-every-90-minutes tantrums. Then there was that time when I realized that I would never again get anything done with my business because my daughter was going to take over my life.
These are all normal things. And they don’t last forever.
A few weeks into this stay at home daddy thing and we’ve adjusted to a routine and flow that makes sense for all. I get work done mostly in the morning-time when she’s more likely to take a few naps, then I hang out exclusively with my daughter in the late afternoon and evenings before wifey comes home to help close out the game in the ninth inning. Win for all.
It’s provided a nice little break from the monotony of my business day, to be honest. And now I have a little company to keep me entertained.
The little nugget and I spend the entire daylight together now, hanging out while daddy makes phone calls and bangs out emails and sets up leads for new opportunities. And she gives me a chance to do something that I’m pretty terrible at doing: step away from all that crap to appreciate the little things in life.
Is it always going to be smooth sailing? Of course not. There are going to be days where she’s going to be a volcano of emotion and fussiness ready to explode a hot plume of spit up and poop that will force me to stop in my tracks and get absolutely nothing done on the day. And that’s okay.
But for now, I’m focused on the cool shit. Like her staring at me right now while I put the finishing touches on this blog post. I mean, after all, if I didn’t have this little munchkin, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to start this site and talk about my crazy adventures into fatherhood.
Meanwhile, the perspective of things shifts and changes. I find myself more motivated to tackle this blog and be more successful. My dedication to establishing a routine that allows me to productive during the day is of the utmost importance. It’s made me more efficient at what I do.
I’ve opened up a bit more appreciation for the other stay at home parents out there that are living the struggle to provide for the kids. And I’m definitely tossing out more props to the peeps out there holding down a business while holding on to a newborn.
Just like that first day at college, there is an adjustment period, as I learn how the hell to make this new chapter work for everyone involved – ya know, minus the keg stands and stuff. It’s a new day and a new opportunity to be great. But now the definition of greatness has shifted. It’s about being a great dad and a great husband and then spending some time to be great at my business. And having this little nugget challenge me by forcing me to put all of this into some kind of perspective is a great thing in itself.
Alright stay at home dads (and moms, too): time to chime in with what you do to make it all work with a munchkin … or even several. Join the conversation and leave a comment below with your thoughts and any advice you may have to survive the craziness.