I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan of being a stay-at-home dad and I’m not afraid to say it.
It just wasn’t for me. For one thing, when I had the gig I lived in a smaller, sleepier town. For another, my son was only two, and his personality was still just emerging; he wasn’t yet the super-whiny but also super-fun four-year-old that he is now (and that I hope he won’t be soon because I’m TIRED OF IT).
Most importantly? I like having a job. And I like working in an office. I enjoy interacting with other adults, and I need that time away from the house. Being a stay-at-home dad was BORING. By the time I got back to work, it was a relief.
But lately, I’ve been feeling a little regret. It’s the curse of the working parent.
Being home with my son all day wasn’t all bad. I got to wear pajamas well into the afternoon, I hardly ever had to do my hair, and the cable company’s wide appointment window fit perfectly into my lifestyle!
We had some good times, Detective Munch and I. Like when he swallowed a penny (see pic) and I had to comb though his waste to make sure it wasn’t stuck! And when he was still taking a sizable mid-day nap and I was able to catch up on “Justified”! And when he got hand-foot-mouth disease 300 times! But when I had the chance to go back to work, I jumped at it and became a working parent.
Unfortunately, it was right when my son was coming into his own.
Granted, most of the time his “own” can suck a lemon. With the tantrums and the defiance and the whining and the tantrums and the defiance and the whining, the Threenage wasteland and the Eff-You Fours have been far from my favorite ages. But there’s a flip-side to that infuriating coin.
Alongside that ghoulishness comes some real astonishing, precious stuff. Like when he says he wants to live with us forever and never leave (it would be a lot less precious if I thought he’d actually be living in our basement in 20 years). Or when he tells Mom and Buried he wants to marry her. Or when he gives me an unprompted “I love you,” answers my “What are we?” with “A couple a buds!” or when I’m get him to sing “You got the touch!” without him realizing it’s from my Boogie Nights as well as his “Transformers”.
For every asshole move he pulls, there’s some moment of affection, or intelligence, or just outright cuteness, that (almost) makes wrestling with him for 45 minutes just to get his pants on worthwhile. But, as a working parent, sometimes that 45-minute pants struggle is all I get.
With just early mornings before work and late evenings after it as my available interaction time, it increasingly feels like I’m missing the good stuff and getting stuck with the dregs. I get home and Mom and Buried has stories about the hilarious conversations they’ve been having. Like when he said, “You’re not a young lady. You’re old!” and then she broke down into tears. Why can’t I have that? I’m great at making women cry! But no, I get nothing but 3am trips to the potty, which – despite him burying his half-asleep head in my neck as I carry him to the bathroom being among the greatest things that have ever happened to me – are a huge pain in the ass!
I’m not jealous of my wife; that’s not the problem. It only stands to reason that if she gets more of the good stuff, she gets more of the bad stuff too. And, at four, there’s a LOT of bad stuff. But when I only get an hour or two of ANYTHING, five days a week? That’s lame.
Work is a necessary evil, and, as I mentioned, I don’t even mind it. Besides, without it there’d be no healthcare, no vacations, no new toys. It just sucks that from 8am to 7pm, I miss my son’s life, right when it’s getting interesting.
It’s the curse of the working parent, and it’s one I’ll have to bear until I hit the lottery, or until this post makes me famous (and then after that I hit the lottery). Or until he becomes a teenager and I start sleeping at the office.