The Day of No Responsibility

8C01AFB5-D290-4FBB-A385-43A2331563B0Even as a stay at home dad, you get a long weekend sometimes.  Well, it felt long anyways.  Sugar Mama was out of town most of last week, so she gave me Saturday morning through Sunday morning off:  The Day of No Responsibility.  It felt deserved, and I took full advantage.  Shep was gassy all week, because we just switched him from formula to whole milk.  My goal is to never spend a full week alone with an 11 month old that has a butt full of dairy farts.

My neighbor friend also happened to be home alone for the weekend, so I decided to show him a “local’s spot” at the river.  He’s outdoorsy and likes to drink, so we took our dogs down and drank too much.  This spiraled into a night of drinking at the local sports dive across the street from our neighborhood.  Another friend of ours came to meet up and injected a little energy into the night by ordering a couple rounds of shots.  Suburban rage night was a resounding success, and ended with us taking turns picking 90’s songs from Spotify in his sunroom, and trying not to be the first old dude to pass out.  My goal is usually to control my drinking enough to remember the walk home; that didn’t happen.

The Day of No Responsibility was the most relaxed I have felt in a long time.  It was a great treat to truly let loose, and not have to worry about an emergency work call, or something going wrong at home.  It was a real treat, and something I know will be very uncommon in my life.

Monday still hits like a ton of bricks, but I was mentally recharged and ready to get my week started.  We went for our daily run, applied for jobs, napped, played, cleaned, and had a great day.  This little bit of time to focus on family is still very fun, but there is always the creeping anxiety of our impending move and the stress of my career.  Perhaps I’ll have to move my rosè happy hours up an hour or  so to keep the anxiety at bay.

Midweek Drudgery

This week’s biggest discovery is how I am helping Shep sleep more often, and for longer stretches.  With summer in full swing, it is too hot to take Shep on our morning walks, so I have been focusing on naps for a couple of days.  Slight adjustments to nap times have him sleeping over 3 hours a day.  It’s amazing. Sleep is the key to sanity for everyone.

We are still trying to figure out what is wrong with the AC system in our house.  What a mess.  When two different companies give you two different stories, something is fishy, and you stop trusting repairmen entirely.  At this point, I just hope it fixes itself, or blows up entirely.  Shep and I hung out at my parents house again while we couldn’t have the AC running.  Grandma made BLTs!  Big win.

We slept downstairs one night, while the house cooled down after having the air off all day.  Shep slept through the night in his pack and play, and I woke up shivering at one point.  We will assume that’s a good sign for the AC fixing itself.  Owning a house sucks sometimes, but then the HVAC breaks down when you are trying to sell your home, and it seems like a terrible idea all around.  Things are not going easy right now.

Boredom is becoming my greatest challenge as the days meld together and what used to be difficult is becoming more mundane.  This morning I put on David Bowie’s “Let’s Dance” in an effort to spice things up a bit.  Shep enjoyed it thoroughly.  Sugar Mama also surprised us with Paul Simon’s Graceland album in the mail, probably to say thank you and sorry at the same time.  It was a nice treat, and Shep loved dancing to it.

This morning may have been the first time I felt a deep appreciation for all of the nap times, crawling around, dancing, talking, and watching him experience things for the first time.  As a father, it really is unique and special to get this time with my son, and I need to stay focused on that fact.  At one point today, I even had a thought that it may not be all that bad if this experience dragged on for a while; not too long though.

Tuesday: No Groove

4B50AD65-B1E4-482E-A885-656461DBD49B.GIFThere might not be a groove yet, but we are rolling with the punches.  Sugar Mama left to catch a flight early, but helped me a lot before her Uber arrived.  She will be sorely missed this week.  Let the adventures begin.

During our morning walk, I received a call back from an AC repair company and they said they would be coming later in the morning.  This was perfect timing, because it was between Shep’s nap times.  It was also terrible timing, because it was not during Shep’s nap time.  There’s never a good time.

The AC repairman pretended to fix my AC, and overcharged me for spraying deodorant in the system and sucking up the water with a third rate shopvac.  I’m a college graduate with no knowledge of air conditioning units, so I paid up without argument.  Another company is coming out tomorrow.  Colleges should have an elective class for basic home repair.

Luckily the “repairman” finished in time for Shep and I to go get our haircut by an awesome lady named Penny.  The appointment was scheduled one half hour before his midday nap.  He was tired and calm, so all the ladies loved him.  Penny has been chopping locks off of my family’s head for over two decades, and we took Shep to her for his first haircut.  She seemed to really enjoy holding him and getting to play for a little while.  If you’re ever in the Richmond area, and need to look good, call Penny.

Another home showing was scheduled for early afternoon, so Shep and I headed to grandma’s for a nap.  Naturally, I hit the wrong sequence of numbers on their alarm, and nearly ruined nap time.  After a few conversations with the county police dispatch, an alarm company, and finally my mom, the alarm was disarmed.

Once I was able get a diaper change completed, there was a large wet spot on my shirt; either pee, water, or apple juice.  It was probably all three, but I was already on shirt number three for the day and too tired to figure it out.  My shirt dried, and didn’t smell.  Good enough.  Exhaustion eventually won and we napped for two hours.

After that awesome nap, Shep wanted to play all afternoon, so I played DJ with my records in an effort to keep him entertained.  We were having a lot of fun, so he stayed up about thirty minutes after his bedtime.  When there is a few hours of nothing going wrong and he is having fun, I really try to stretch it out as long as possible.  Those easy going good times seem to be rare for a stay at home dad.

I was ready to relax at the end of the day.  Surely it would be necessary to recharge for Wednesday.  Hopefully fewer things will go wrong.

Monday: A Test Of Wills

Monday started just like every Monday.  My will survive via sleep, versus my will to survive via adult duties.  The snooze was used lightly, right up until Sugar Mama ever so lovelingly threw Shep onto my chest in what has become the first step in our morning waltz.

A couple cups of coffee, a Carol King record, and a few minutes to peruse the morning news had us ready earlier than normal for our daily hike through suburbia.  Early in the walk, I saw a beautiful red fox crossing the road about fifty yards ahead of us.  Foxes are not common here, so I figured this had to be good omen for the rest of the day.  It was not.  Hopefully it is still a sign of good, if unexpected, things to come for our family.

Shep has a new favorite activity where he sprint crawls to the stairs and starts climbing before you can get over to him.  He looks back and laughs at me when I panic and run over to him.  We let him climb, but make him crawl down.  He doesn’t enjoy the decline.  Consequences are a fact of life, and we hope he starts learning it now.  Sugar Mama is already tired of me telling him to “suck it up” whenever he starts pouting.

Nap time is my favorite part of the day.  Sometimes he sleeps on my arm, and I’ll rest with him.  It is the quiet moments of bonding that I can tell are going to become extremely rare in the not too distant future.  Occasional midday naps with your baby should be a cultural requirement.  Although, it does seem to spoil him a little for the afternoon, and he becomes super clingy.  I’m not trying to raise a stage five clinger.

When you’re a stay at home dad, and your baby is being super clingy, there is only one solution.  Afternoon rosé and leftover pizza.  Disclaimer: We were out of beer, and the rosé was leftover from a Sunday baby sprinkle Sugar Mama hosted.  Also, an ice cold dry rosé is perfect on a humid summer day.  Whatever, I guess I don’t actually need to explain myself, because dads are allowed to drink rosé without judgment.  It was good, and I would probably be judged more harshly for drinking whiskey at 3:30 anyways.

The lack of adult conversation has begun to allow a little bit of loneliness to creep in at times throughout the day, and it has me becoming more open to the idea of play dates.  This was certainly a whiny-brat day, but Sugar Mama consoled me, which helped me to recover quickly once Shep was asleep.

Sugar Mama leaves town for four days tomorrow morning leaving me and Shep alone.  That is me doing some foreshadowing for the long week to come.

 

First Weekend: Baby Birthdays, Booze, and a Babysitter

2FA8D85E-B9C0-4266-9D94-9068E76FF2D4.GIFSeptember is prime babymaking time in this town, and that means babies in July.  There were approximately two hundred and thirty five thousand birthday parties for babies of various ages this weekend. It must be the start of football season that gets everyone so randy.  Beer, cooler weather, and a reason to party will get just about anyone in the mood.

I very sneakily avoided all parties to have some selfish alone time, and watch the US men’s national team tie Panama in the Gold Cup.  (That was a weak showing, but I realize this isn’t a sports blog.)  Sugar mama took Shep to the parties though, and represented our family well, so we didn’t lose any hard earned social standing.  Once I was out of my antisocial funk, my mom came to pick Shep up and watch him for one last Saturday date night before we move to Nashville.  It is kind of sad, and the move is becoming less of a distant concern, and more of an imminent threat to our well established groove.

We were ready for a carefree date night.  You know you’re old when you don’t even look at the menu to order at your local Mexican restaurant.  A couple of recently engaged, and extremely fun friends of ours ended up meeting us for dinner, and things quickly spiraled into a booze fest.  The DJ at our favorite karaoke bar was kind enough to pretend like his equipment was broken when Sugar Mama and her friend attempted to do Ghetto Cowboy by Bone Thugs.  He probably saved the night.

Sleeping in was a nice treat Sunday morning, but Sugar Mama had a baby shower to host and I had to mow the lawn before leaving to take care of Shep.  Any amount of rest is always a nice treat, but Sunday-Funday has changed into Sunday-Do-Bunches-Of-Productive-Adult-Things-Day.  It is better this way.

As a stay at home dad, the weekends are quite a bit different.  My main concern used to be spending as much time with Shep as possible, but now the weekend is about trying to have some alone time, and catching up with my friends.  I am still trying to wrap my head around this whole experience, and so far the positives are abundant.

Day Three: Delayed Defeat, Dry Sponge, and the Dog.

I cannot win.  I can only delay defeat.  The morning always starts with an unspoken battle of wills.  He wakes up and starts to pout, and we lay in bed pretending like we can’t hear him.  Sometimes he falls back to sleep, most of the time his cries quickly gain steam until I give in and go get him, change his diaper, and then take him to roll around in our bed for a few very adorable minutes.

Starbucks K-cups have almost changed me into a morning person.  Rumour has it their beans are grown in the caffeinated fields of heaven, and roasted on hell’s least sulfurous coals.  Regardless of coffee, mornings are now filled with joy.  This time spent watching Shep learn something new everyday will be short lived.  I need to soak this up like a dry sponge.

My first great idea of the day was to build a chair barricade in a large doorway.  This would keep Shep in the play room and require less effort on my part.  Shep learned how to move chairs this morning.  Immediate defeat.  It was a swift kick to my fragile stay at home dad ego, and a realization that he will always find a way to win.  I’m swollen with pride for him, and disappointed in my shortcomings all at the same time.

Vito (the dog) and Shep have really developed a strong relationship.  Shep eats half of his food, and strengthens the bond by throwing the other half on the floor for Vito.  We are lucky to have such a passive dog, because Shep rips out handfuls of his tail hair, and only gets face licks in response.  With Shep at home now, Vito has really stepped up to the plate, and helped to keep him from crying all the time.

One of my new responsibilities is to ensure that the house is clean, and ready to show at any time.  This is an added layer to my training as a stay at home dad.  I have always been a neat freak, but with a messy toddler and a hyper dog, I end up cleaning constantly.  Shep is very interested in figuring out the broom.  My goal is to never let him touch it.  This will keep him curious, and he will continue to follow me around while I sweep.  Well, at least for now.

At some point I hope to do the unthinkable and compare being a stay at home dad to being a working dad.  For now, I will reserve judgement and just record my thoughts and reflections as accurately as possible.

Day Two: Grateful Dead, Grandma, and Gin

Day two was an absolutely embarrassing pleasure.  This is still new, but I only fear enjoying my fresh role too much.  The anxiety is all based on my natural instinct to provide for my family.  I can’t help but to feel as though my emotional support as a father, and familial leader, is helping more so than ever in these early days of our new journey as a family.

We have a daily habit now of a five mile walk/jog for the majority Shep’s morning nap.  He has always slept best in the jogging stroller, and this has been exacerbated by Grateful Dead radio on Pandora playing from my phone, which is strapped right over his head.  My little dude loves a good heady jam.

There is an old lady that walks a similar route to ours every morning.  She always seems to be so excited to see us, and I look forward to our quick exchanges now.  There were some old fat dudes smoking tobacco products on a front porch.  They didn’t wave back.  People not waving back makes me uncomfortable.  I know you saw me, old dudes.  Stop being weird.

Those folks make the morning fun, but most importantly, I found time to take care of my son, myself, and the dog emotionally, as well as physically.  This was much more rare as a working dad.  It makes this time feel important.

Once we arrived back at home base, he was rested, and I was ready to rest.  As a stay at home dad, your time is not your own.  There is a needy little human that decides how your time is spent.  (Excuse my depth of thought for the next few sentences, please.)  Perhaps this is my biggest lesson of all during this time I’m spending at home with my son.  No matter if you work for yourself, your family, or The Man; you are truly going to have to serve somebody.  Friggin Bob Dylan, man.  Dylan knows… he just knows.

I was lucky to finish up the afternoon with my mom’s help.  She’s always wonderful.  It’s mutual selfishness.  She gets time with her grandson, and I get a slightly less stressful couple of hours.  Thanks Mom!

I had a kickball game, and got a little me time.  We lost.  We are all sore losers, and take kickball way too seriously.  More seriously than the big kid in elementary school took his domination of tetherball.

When I came home, my lovely wife had left me a healthy dinner.  This is a sign that I’m doing a great job keeping our beloved Shep alive, at least from Sugar Mama’s point of view.  Crystal light tea goes better with gin than would be expected.  That might be my favorite sentence ever.

 

 

 

 

Day One: Tears, Triumph, and Tampons

Stay at home dad: this is my temporary title.  It doesn’t show well on LinkedIn.  The title shouldn’t last long, and I have convinced myself that remaining focused on this irreplaceable time with my son is paramount in maintaining sanity, and a high level of satisfaction.  However, thoughts and fears of not filling the traditional role of provider for my family creep into my mind far too often, and create unnecessary anxiety.  My wife’s career is progressing expeditiously, and we have made the best decision for our family.  Our initial discussion and subsequent decision caused my manliness to shrivel for a short time, but we never hesitate to make a big family decision.

Our motto since day one has been “Never Slow Down.”  We want a life in the suburban fast lane, and we married each other with the understanding that we would never accept a boring lifestyle.  On day one, the excitement came as finding my son destroying a box of tampons while Sugar Mama laughed and Snapchatted.  Dad daycare is fun stuff.

Day one was not as I expected.  I was so anxious to start my new assignment that I woke up at four in the morning, and patiently waited for the distant “da-da”, while gorging on my daily dose of news.  “Da-da” is his way of saying, “you better come get me and change my diaper, or I will wreck your morning with hateful screams and broken things.”  He was courteous enough to spare me a morning poo on my first day, so the first diaper change was a breeze.  I accepted this peace offering, and we played the piano while listening to a Steve Winwood record.  Dear Mr. Fantasy, find me a job.

We went for a walk, played with Vito (the dog), cried, and he actually snuggled with me before taking his afternoon nap.  He hadn’t snuggled with me since he figured out how to crawl.  It had to be his way of letting me know that he wants this time with me, and that he is happy to spend this time at home together.  I don’t want to tell him that this won’t last forever.

How to become a stay at home dad.

Let’s start by getting everyone up to date….

My wife (sugar mama) and I had our son in my hometown just outside of Richmond, Virginia almost a year ago.  Sugar mama is a career-oriented woman, who remains passionate about building a strong (and large) family.  I am a guy who was lucky to convince her that I would be a good match, and I very much pride myself on being a good provider for our family.  Sugar mama’s company has been growing rapidly for years, creating a lot of opportunities for her.  We have both worked very hard to create the lifestyle that we always wanted, and she has moved for my career twice.  Now it is my turn to follow her.

We are moving to Nashville, Tennessee for her latest promotion.  This puts my career on the back burner for a month or two, so that I can stay home and watch our son, manage the move, and look for a new career path.  Looking for a new career in a new city is a terribly horrifying experience, but at least I have a sugar mama to take care of me and my son in the mean time.  This is my attempt to document a tumultuous time for our family in an entertaining blog.  Blogging.  Woof.