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Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Guest Post: Stay-At-Home Dad

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Josh Weed writes a humor blog, The Weed, where he talks about things like colonoscopies and the cannibalistic tendencies of his four-year-old daughter. He is a marriage and family therapist and an aspiring novelist. You can also follow him on twitter, or read his first guest post here.

I don't care what anybody tells you: being a stay at home parent is the easiest job in the world.

I will heal you
I know this because on Thursdays, Wife plays "grown-up" and goes to our therapy office to do billing and paperwork and taxes and filing and a bunch of other stuff I don't understand because, hey, I'm a therapist who listens to people talk not a business guru, okay? I'm a healer.

Here's the thing. I have learned on Thursdays when I am the stay at home dad that being a stay at home parent isn't the life-sucking chore people claim it is. I know you've heard many people (mostly women, let's just face it) say that it's "hard" or that it "exhausts" or that at times some people "want to pull their hair out" or "get on the next train to South America" because it's so demanding or whatever, but the truth is, my experience has been nothing like that. And I refuse to stand idly by while so many people try to claim this job is "the hardest job on the planet."

It's not.

It's freaking easy.

Let me break down a typical "Stay-at-Home Dad Thursday" for you.

After rolling leisurely out of bed, I find myself faced with limitless possibilities. What should I do with this bright, sunny Seattle day, I ask myself. I stretch and go downstairs where the girls are calmly eating breakfast. "Daddy, can you pour me more milk?" one asks. Wife, who hasn't left for her day at the office yet, pours it. "Okay, I'm about to go," she says. "Please, please, remember to pick Anna up from the bus." Then she heads out the door with Anna, our kindergartener, to make sure she gets to the bus on the way to school. "Bye," I say, chuckling to myself at how easy and relaxing my day is going to be.

And that's when the fun really starts. The first thing I do is grab either a book or my phone, hole myself up in my office while the kids are busy playing, and just start reading. I read and read and read. Sometimes the girls want me to play with them, but I have to be firm. "Daddy's reading right now. You can have a drink of water later," I often find myself saying or "Stop banging on the office door! I'm trying to concentrate! Work out your issues amongst yourself or you'll go to time out." Kids needs so much direction sometimes!

Time to stop playing so we can eat lunch!
After an hour or two--and I admit, sometimes the time has just slipped past and three or four hours have passed--I come out of the office I've locked myself in. I usually come out ready to play, but the kids have often broken into the cupboard by this point and are snacking on cereal. "We want some lunch, Daddy," they say. I agree! It is about lunch-time.

When the kids are done eating the pieces of bread I've thrown on the table for them, and when I'm through eating my pasta and grilled chicken, I realize, "hey, it's about nap time." So, I round the girls up and put them in their rooms. I think it's important to make sure a parent gets some alone time. I know by this point in the day, I'm craving some "me" time. So, when they're barricaded securely in their rooms, I go and curl up on the bed. I intend to do some work I need to catch up on, but I end up falling asleep.

At about 4:00 I get a phone call. It's Wife, asking if I've picked up Anna from the bus. Shoot! I forgot! I race to snag her, and by the time I get there, she's in tears walking home alone. When we get home, I realize it's about time for the kids to watch a show. So, we turn on the TV. But first I have to deal with a mess!

Looks like mom has some work to do when she gets home!
Now don't get any of that Nutella on the couch as you
watch TV, sweetie ...
While they're busy watching shows for a few hours, I mill around the house with nothing to do. I'm so bored! I would normally do some work, but the house is so untidy that I can't concentrate. I start to criticize Wife in my mind for not keeping the house clean enough for us, but then I cut her some slack--she was at the office today. It's fine if she waits to do the cleaning until after she gets back.

As the kids get bored of TV and start asking for dinner, I begin to panic a little, unsure what to do. Thankfully, I know Wife will be home from work soon. It will be sad to give her the reins because I've so enjoyed this wholesome day with the kids, but I'm also ready to relax a little. It's been a busy day.

When she does get home from her long, grueling day at the office, I just chuckle and say "see? That was hard, wasn't it? So, why don't you just do us both a favor and go back to the job that you and I both know is much easier, get into that kitchen, and make us all some dinner." Then I slap her on the behind, scratch my crotch, and go watch some football, but not before bellowing "and can you clean up those blocks?"

Stay at home dad: the easiest job in the world.

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