Stay at Home Parent. Hardest Job in the World.
Do we ever really give enough credit to stay at home parents? I’ve said it before: “It must be tough, being a parent is hard work, thanks for doing such a good job with keeping our kids alive, why isn’t dinner ready?” Truth is, I may have underestimated it.
I am now going on 2 years of hanging up my tool belt for the role of a stay at home parent. My daughter is at the “terrible twos” stage. I’m at the “what have I done?” stage.
The life of a stay at home parent isn’t exactly how I envisioned it.
Where’s the coupon gambling card games and overflowing fun washing machine suds party? Why can’t I grow out my hair and mountain man beard for the full on Mr. Mom effect? This isn’t at all what I thought it would be.
Yet every nap time, I stare at my little sleeping angel and waste 20 minutes of my 2 hour “free time”. When I say “free time” I mean unloading the dishwasher, mow the lawn, pay the online bills, take a shower, uninterrupted toilet, stare at my truck because 1.5 hours isn’t enough time to start and finish any project on it, play a game of online chess, pick up the toys time. I’m sure I left a few things out (and, if I’m honest, internet chess is a total waste of time anyway), but I think you get the gist.
The reason for this blog is to initiate some sort of awareness program designed to shine light on the world’s most under- appreciated job, “the stay at home parent”. I’m not saying it’s easier for women than men, but men who have worked in maintenance their whole lives who then transition to children rearing full-time find it harder than stretching a gnat’s butt over a telephone pole.
Anyway, that’s been my experience. Children are considerably harder to troubleshoot than machines. What may have caused the breakdown this time may have absolutely nothing to do with what broke last time. In fact, trying to replace parts on a 2 year old kid is pretty difficult. I’m finding that even with my extensive collection of tools, I often don’t have the right tool for the job.
Women just seem to be more natural at the patience end of the child-rearing job. My wife for instance, has the astounding ability to stay cool with a very difficult, highly emotional, sometimes very loud, unpleasant toddler meltdown. She handles it with the patience of a surgeon, while making me feel like a complete novice. Who knew offering a latte isn’t always the best way to calm a child’s meltdown? I always deal with the feeling of being a one legged breakdancer by saying to myself, “Yeah, well you get to go back to work, and I have to stay here because this IS my job.” See, I don’t even thank myself for this underappreciated job.
The truth is, my wife is a divorce attorney. Do you want to talk about a stressful and difficult career choice?! After her 9 hour day, she comes home, and I want to basically hand her the keys to the kid, but I know better. The parenting job doesn’t have a time clock. Baby wakes, time for work, weekends included. The only time off really is getting away from the house all together, unless of course the child comes with you, then it’s a whole new type of work mission.
Don’t get me wrong, there are truly many defining moments throughout the day; I get the odd unsolicited kiss and hug. Or the offer of a half finished M&M which will make my day. When my daughter cries “Dad!” from the next room, I can’t help but smile and run to please her every need.
I do love my job. If I can be honest, I will say it is the most difficult job I have ever had from being in the military during a war to fixing an AC in a 140 degree attic, from keeping an eclectic dance floor packed to preparing an intricate Wendy’s hamburger order for the drive through in under 45 seconds. The next time you hear someone say to you they are a stay at home parent, a mom or a dad, thank them for their service (click to tweet this), for they are responsible for our future leaders, doctors, lawyers and candlestick makers.
There is so much more to raising kids than turning on the tv or making a bowl of cereal. I’m proud to want to take a role in the raising of my daughter. I just wished I would have thought of this 26 years ago for the first two kids. Sorry about that you two! I’m so glad you turned out perfect regardless of my immaturity.
Here’s to never having to apologize for not being the parent we all know we can be.
Here’s to being an active parent, the most thankless job in the world.
Thank you to all you dads for your service. Happy Father’s Day!
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