Being a Stay at Home Dad is awesome. Well, so far anyway. As I draw to the close of my first official fortnight as an (almost) full time SAHD, here are some of the lessons and realisations that I’ve uncovered as I embark on this awesome journey. Here’s five of the best (so far).
I discovered that I can bake blueberry pie. That’s right – blueberry freaking pie. Completely out of the blue, five year old Focker #1 announced that he wanted some blueberry pie. This coming from a kid who has never eaten any form of pie – sweet or savoury. Now I’m not big on letting my kids down, and decided that if my son wanted blueberry pie, then he was going to get blueberry pie. I’ve never made pastry, let alone filled it with blueberry goodness. My first reaction was that I’d have to swing by the local supermarket and grab a ready made Betty Crocker from the freezer aisle. But that’s when the little voice inside of me said “don’t be ridiculous. You can lead complex land development projects, you can run a marathon, you can deadlift 200kg. It’s a pie. You got this.” And so I did. To prove it wasn’t a fluke I backed it up with Focker #2’s birthday cake a couple of days later. I don’t mind admitting that I’m more than a little bit proud of that effort!
Jif gets crayon off white leather couches. That stuff is one part cleaning product, three parts magic. Focker #2 took to our white leather lounges with her crayons the other day while she was meant to be having “quiet time”. I know what you’re thinking – what kind of idiots with young kids have white leather furniture? The pre-children versions of my wife and I, that’s who. Not our finest decision but we’re standing by it. Anyway, a vigorous wipe down with some Jif followed by a quick prayer to whatever gods help to save husbands from being murdered by their wives and crisis averted.
I’ve discovered that when you tell other dads that you’re a SAHD, through some sort of weird mitosis they automatically divide into two categories. There’s the sarcastic alpha types that say things like “ha ha you sure drew the short straw” and “good luck with that one buddy” while sniggering and basking in their own manliness. They’re the same guys that “babysit” their own kids, and are convinced that being too involved with their children is a threat to their masculinity. These guys are idiots. The second category is the overly excitable awestruck guy who thinks what you’re doing is akin to curing cancer. Regardless of which category they fit into, deep down inside they’re as jealous as all hell.
I’m not a violent man, but I’ve realised that I want to fight Jimmy Giggle from the ABC’s Giggle and Hoot Show so bad it hurts. In a world that’s full of extremely irritating children’s entertainers he wins the prize for most irritating, and I’d like to throw a bunch of fives right into his screechy voice box. And when I’m done with Giggle, I’m going after the ginger kid on Fireman Sam. Not because he’s a red head, but because he’s an obnoxious turd. Seriously, how much trouble can one kid cause for poor old Sam. I’m surprised Sam hasn’t pistol-whipped him with his fire hose by now.
I’ve realised that being a SAHD is not a direct replacement for mum and it’s ridiculous to think that we could be. While I’ve managed to do the domestic basics to a reasonable level of competency, there are some little touches that Mrs Dadding Every Day brings to the table that I simply can’t replicate. Conversely though, I don’t see Mrs D-E-D picking up any of the more traditional dad duties like mowing the lawn, or threatening to fix the broken towel rail now that she’s working full time. It cuts both ways. When I was still a full time worker bee in the consulting world, my boss’s favourite piece of advice was to “stick to your knitting”. In other words, stick to what you’re good at, and let others deal with the stuff that you’re not. This should apply to SAHDs too. Don’t forgo the stuff that you’re good at because you’re trying to be ‘mum’ to your kids. Likewise, keep letting mum be mum. At the end of the day there is a special little emotional place in each child’s heart that is reserved just for mum. No matter how competent we are at the domestic stuff, or how sensitive we are to the erratic emotions of our offspring, we can’t fill that space, so don’t go there. Instead, go and mow the lawns and for God’s sake fix that freaking towel rail.