Saturday, June 19, 2010

The little things I love about being Elle's Dad.

Early Spring getting the garden ready.

  • Elle's thirst for knowledge and her desire to learn how everything works. I have gotten pretty skilled at diagraming when she asks, "how does that work".
  • Watching Elle and my wife share a book on the couch. It's a beautiful moment that they get to share together.
  • Elle running around the room from one parent to another giving high fives in joyous celebration of writing capital letters
  • When dropping Elle off to school she often says, "Dad I'm going to miss you, but don't pick me up early because I want to get enough time to play outside".
  • The creative fibs. "Bentley(our extremely lazy dog), broke out of his cage put the napkins in his mouth and spread them all over the floor then snuck back in to his cage and locked the door." She says this with a cute smile on her face.
  • Elle rocking out to Poison's, "Nothin' but a Good Time", dancing and signing along. Her dance often resembles "The Elaine Dance" from Seinfeld.
  • At dinner time when Elle's says, "thanks for cooking dinner dad, it's taste fantastic". It makes the effort and the time all worth it.
  • Elle holding her arms as wide as possible to show how much she loves us. Then asking if we love her that much.
  • We live close to a college and often Elle sees the kids walking over to class. She says, "Mom, Dad when I grow up and go to college I'm going to build a brick house for me and one for you  right next to it and you can visit me and come over for dinner."
I could easily go on and on. Everyday I'm thankful and proud to be Elle's Dad. She's almost three and a half. The time has seemed to fly by. I look forward to the journey that is to come.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Reaching Out.

I received an email Tuesday that caught my attention and made me reflect. It was from a new stay at home dad that had listened to one of the episodes I did on Blog Talk Radio and checked out a few post on this blog. He asked if I could give him some perspective on a future episode regarding his new situation. He was feeling a bit lost, angry and less of a man. He was feeling guilty for having all these feelings. I tried to do my best to answer from my own experience. I was flattered that Danny (what he wanted to be called) felt comfortable enough to reach out to me. In fact that day I did my little fifteen minute program just trying to relate from what I knew. This post is a bit of a re-hash of a few things  I spoke about on the June 1st program. Just a bit more organized, expanded and minus me saying "you know" way too much.

I have been a stay at home dad since October, 2008. It was at that time supposed to be a temporary. I took a chance from a secure job to one that seemed to be a golden opportunity. Very shortly into my new job as a director of a non-profit I realized why the previous director left so suddenly. A holy crap moment slapped me in the face. I just jumped on the Titanic. I was mostly angry at myself for leaving a secure job and now having to resign from another five months in. I felt like a complete failure. So I was back on the job market and it made sense not to have Elle in daycare while I was looking for employment. Plus, the five months Elle had been in daycare we were very unhappy with the overall effect it was having on her. So began my tenure as a stay at home dad.

Being unemployed I was in the boat with many others. Every week I sent resume after resume and nothing. I had the great joy of being with my daughter full-time which helped take the edge off of my fruitless efforts on the job front. At that time my wife's work was with in walking distance to our home. So she would come home for lunch and we would often visit her at work as a stop over on one of our bike rides to the park. For the most part I was very happy. A month before that anniversary of being a stay at home dad my wife was offered a new job that would change all of our routines. She would now have a hour plus commute and almost monthly business trips. She had worked so hard for this opportunity that we were going to make it work. Then the year mark had arrived of my tenure as stay at home dad. I was hit with a sledge hammer of depression and guilt.

A range of emotions were simmering inside of me and I felt they would boil over at any moment. I had this overwhelming feeling of failure but, with it came anger, a sense of being unappreciated and a crushing weight of lack of manhood. I let this simmer until my birthday came about in December. I was going to be by myself with my daughter. My wife was in London for that time period. I think what added to the tipping point was that my last birthday was sort of forgotten. So, I went full force unfairly aiming all that I was feeling at my wife.

I learned a tremendous amount about myself as a father, husband and man during this time period as a stay at home dad. Some of what I learned is what I relayed to Danny.

One of the key things I now know from the experiences above is that I can't let things build up. Going through that funk made me see something I really didn't like. Bottling feelings was something my parents were skilled at. I promised myself and my wife that I never wanted to repeat what they had done when we got married. There I was doing the same. My wife is my biggest supporter. I have to be able to talk to her and not try to sort out what I may be feeling by myself. I was caught up in my own head and letting go of the roadblock of where I wasn't had to be worked out of my system. I had to change and let my wife help. I had to also realize that she is on the other end of the spectrum. In terms of feeling like she's missing out on moments with her daughter and the pressure of being the sole provider. It took my negative action to bring about positive action. We are both able to really talk, share and listen. I admit I still have moments of funk that spring up. But, I am more capable of handling those feelings and expressing them so I can let my wife in. I do the same for her and I am grateful that I can.

To sum up what I told Danny was to just sit down and talk to your spouse. Don't let your emotions get in the way. Because it is easy to miss what your partner is saying when you get heated. Take the time to understand and you can work it out together. Also, find a outlet to engage with other that maybe going through a similar situation. For myself it was this blog. First as a way to share those moments my wife might miss and then it morphed in a way to connect with others.

Becoming parents I believe has made my relationship with my wife stronger. We are in this together and I won't take that for granted ever again. I am not a board certified anything. I am not a writer or someone the had aspirations of becoming a voice for stay at  home dads. This is not only my journey through fatherhood it is also me finding my way to be a better husband and man. I owe many of those steps in a positive direction to my wife and daughter. I can't thank them enough.

Fatherhood Friday at Dad Blogs