I had grand visions for my life three years ago.
Since my wife was a just year away from graduating law school and thus making the big bucks, these visions involved me staying at home with my son. We would spend our time doing fun projects, going to the park, playdates and day runs to Target and Costco.
Then life hit.
I was unexpectedly, and probably a few years sooner than I thought, forced into being a stay-at-home dad. I was laid off, and with a wife still going through school (because I told her that it was not the time to change her direction in life), I need to also find a job.
It took me four months to find work, and as time went on it became the job of my dreams. I loved what I did and the people I worked with. But those four months, while I was searching for a job, I was able to spend with our oldest child. We did exactly the stay-at-home dad things I dreamed of. Playdates, Target and Costco; hitting the playground multiple times a day. And we watched a bit too much PBS.
I look back at those months and wonder where that dream of being a stay-at-home dad has gone? Why don’t I want those same things today?
The thing is, through no fault of my own, I am forced back into the same position I was three years ago: laid-off and looking for work. There is still a trickle of a dream that maybe this blogging thing will turn into something more than what it is today. That I’ll be able to support my family through my writing and my influence on social media, but I realized quickly after I started that it would never happen.
At-home dad feelings change
So why is it different this time? Why am I so eager and excited to get back to work?
My life couldn’t really get any better. I get to spend all day with my 1-year-old. I get to help him learn how to walk, play the drums, go on playdates (with the Kansas City Dads Group) and take naps with him on the couch. But all of that, all of those good things I get to share with him doesn’t stop that drive, that urge, to get back to a job.
But why would I want to get back to working again so quickly and not enjoy this time that I get to spend with him? The answer is simple because I thought I could hack this stay-at-home dad thing.
Don’t get me wrong, I love staying at home with him and taking care of both of our kids, chauffeuring them to and from the places they need to go, and keeping our home in some form of organized chaos.
This time, though, being a stay-at-home dad feels too much like a job. It feels as though from the moment the kids wake up, I must be on top of my game. I take my eyes off of one, and he is choking on a Lego. I take my eye off the other, and he is spending the day playing Angry Birds on his iPad.
Why can’t I hack this? I had training for this job three years ago. For some jobs, that’s enough to earn an interview and the job. But for some, it just doesn’t work out. That’s how it is with me. But my bosses are putting up with me, at least until I can find that next job.
That next job, that hopefully will be one of my dreams. But this one, I know this one, will be short-lived. Eventually I will have to hang up the stay-at-home-dad hat again. I need to be able to sit back and enjoy this time with my kids instead of rushing back into a job where I will only be able to see the kids in the early morning, late evening, and on the weekends.
Until then, I’m going to keep trying to make this stay-at-home dad thing happen because we all know that once I get the hang of this, it will be back to work again.
A version of this first appeared on The Rookie Dad.