Saturday, February 6, 2010

Okay - Here's the Situation

My parents went away on a week's vacation
and they left the keys to the brand new Porche
Would they mind?
Mmmm, well, of course not.

Oh wait - that's the Fresh Prince of Bel Air. This is mine:

The Situation

I'm SAHD - a Stay-At-Home Dad! Finally...and sort of. That's what this blog was intended for - to carry the message of broken social gender norms - and yet I'm sure people were starting to wonder if I actually knew what stay-at-home meant. When Carrie and I found out she was pregnant, we decided she would return to work after her maternity leave and I would become the primary caregiver. Along with the benefits that come with her job, we agreed that I was emotionally better suited for the New Parent Cabin Fever we'd been reading about. In the ensuing months, two things happened: we realized that being a full-time house-husband was not financially viable and my supervisor encouraged me to continue working part-time to secure my position.

As a result, we have a modified situation: I'm now a working stay-at-home dad while Amari is living the "It takes a village" motto. What I did was ask a couple of our close friends if they would be interested in some childcare exchange. With the help of Granny C and two excellent moms, I will be able to work about five hours a day on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays. Mondays, Fridays, and weekends I will be with Amari and either of the other parents' children when they need it.

The Players

Nicole: Tuesdays. Super mom to Reya and wife to my dear friend, Noah. Reya is almost two going on thirteen. She is extremely verbal and a lot of fun. Nicole is the one person Carrie invited to Amari's birth and she was nothing short of exceptional. When I ran out of encouragement and praise for Carrie about fifty hours into labor, Nicole acted as my voice for the last ten. She said all the right things, and I'm pretty sure Carrie appreciated her most of all. I admire Nicole's balance as a loving but firm parent, and if she has half the influence on Amari that she's had on my buddy, Noah, then I will have a very thoughtful and sensitive daughter.

Granny C: Wednesdays. My psychic, animal-communicating mother-in-law. She has developed a wonderful connection with Amari and has been thoughtful and generous with both her time and her resources. She lives twenty feet away, offers us breaks all the time, and Amari gets very excited by her goofy facial expressions and the slow cadence of her voice. Although she offers us strong parenting suggestions from time-to-time, we've been trained by everyone else in our lives to say, "Okay. Good idea," and then keep doing what we're doing.

Susan: Thursdays. Although Susan is a new friend we've made since returning to the coast, she feels like family. Comfortable. Relaxed. I really enjoy spending time with her and her family - Luke and their two boys, Aiden and Lliam. Susan appears to be a natural mom, and although she's told me otherwise, it seems as though she always knows what to do when it comes to her children. I'm already sad that she and her family will be moving away this summer.

Isaac: The rest of the week. Isaac is what experts call an Ultra Mega Super Dad. His magic powers include one-handed bottle feeding, speed diaper changing, animated facial expressions, lip syncing, and full-contact karaoke. I don't really know what that last one means either.

Carrie: Weekend warrior, bread winner, and PM shifts. I love watching the way Carrie is with Amari. She teaches me to be even more uninhibited than I already am. Thanks to her our living room has become a twenty-four hour 1980's dance party. Carrie recently remarked that leaving Amari to return to work is harder than losing her dad. "Amari's alive and I'm missing it," were her exact words. I was sad for her and knew from my own experience last month exactly how she felt. I recently read that in Sweden a new parent can take a two-year paid leave from their job and be assured their position when they return. Moms and dads can also split the time so they both get the opportunity to bond. That sounds so much more civilized than six weeks of disability. Go socialism.

The Week

I had this fantasy that as a stay-at-home dad I would have limitless time and inspiration to write, to capture the insignificant details of parenting and share them with the world. The only part that has become a reality is the insignificant details part. There are lots of them. Unfortunately, they will have to wait until this dad gets some more sleep. I can't be the Fresh Prince of my neighborhood without at least six solid hours. The skinny on my first week as a part-time SAHD is that it went much more smoothly than my unnecessary fretting and anxiety would have predicted. I feared that Nicole, Susan, Granny C, or all three of them would have a terrible experience and recant their offer of help. As far as I know, that did not happen. As a fellow control freak once jested, "I guess you should keep worrying because it worked."

1 comment:

  1. I wish I was closer. I'd LOVE a turn with that baby!