Parenthood - The days are long but the years are short.
My First Day on the Job
There I sat on the basement couch alone, looking down into the sweet face of our four-month-old baby girl. Cradling her head, as she nursed from a bottle, milk rolling down the side of her cheek, and she was in desperate need of a diaper change. Resting my head on a propped up pillow, I looked up at the ceiling and thought, “Am I going to be cut out for this?”
This is one of the earliest memories of my first day on the job as a stay–at-home dad.
And how did I feel?
I felt dazed and confused as a brand new father trying to figure out what it would mean to care for this bundle that needed my constant care and attention. This was the greatest responsibility that had ever been bestowed upon me, the boldest adventure I’d ever set out on. This would prove to be a major undertaking for a man with a track record for being sort of immature and rather irresponsible.
The most I had ever cared for on my own was a houseplant, and now I was supposed to care for this little bundle that was solely dependent on me while my wife was at work.
I was definitely going to be put to the test.
Who’s Da Man?
At that time, I was not even totally convinced that men were even qualified to be primary care givers.
When I was growing up, it seemed that the only thing dads needed to worry about, was playing catch every once and awhile, or maybe playing a small role as a disciplinarian. All the heavy lifting of child rearing was placed on the shoulders of the mother.
As a man I was supposed to be self-confident and aggressive, bring home the bacon and take care of the finances, work on the car and do the home repairs. Not to be accommodating and nurturing, cook and clean, and certainly not stay at home and care for the kids.
This gender role bias had been seared into my psyche and accepted as “normal.”
Over time, I experienced a shift in my mental perspective that would forever change my life and the lives of my children…for the better!
I wanted to be happy in my role as a nurturer, and I wanted my children to be happy!
I eventually stopped comparing myself to others. I stopped subscribing to societies widely accepted gender role stereotypes. I stopped looking at other people who I once thought were doing more important things and who had more important jobs – while I sat in my pajamas stained with baby vomit, changing an endless amount of dirty diapers.
I came to realize how important my role truly is…I’m not just a stay-at-home dad. I’m
- A nurturer
- A role model
- A teacher
- A chef
- A nutritionist
- A nurse
- A household manager
- A maid
- A butler
- A child psychologist
- A protector
- An event coordinator
- A cheerleader and motivator
And in a world that values acquisition and excess as the primary gauge of success, Rachael and I agree that it’s important for us to impart our own thoughts and ideas about what constitutes a meaningful life, and what will ultimately lead to a happy, peaceful, and self-empowered existence.
We will acknowledge your gifts and do our best to nurture them until you are ready to cultivate them yourself.
We will teach you that material possessions are not as important as relationships. It’s not what you have, but who you have in your life.
We will show you that you are loved and worthy of being loved.
We will encourage financial responsibility, an entrepreneurial spirit, and foster creative thought…which all leads to self-sufficiency.
We will be mindful of the fact that mistakes will happen and are a necessary part of the growth process. It is okay to be vulnerable and to make amends for your errors, as we are all striving to do the same.
We will make sure you know that you will always be welcomed in this home and a part of this family unconditionally. There is nothing that you can ever do that will keep us from loving you.
And so it is.