Mr. Mom

I have not worked since November 3rd, 2011. To give any new readers a little background, the family business where I had worked the past eighteen years was sold and I chose to move on to a new opportunity that starts… well… now. But I have been off for about two months, and during those two months I have acted as a “Mr. Mom”, or a “stay-at-home Dad”, or whatever other term people choose to call it. I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not sure I would have survived being home with the kids when they were toddlers.  I read stories about stay-at-home parents on a daily basis via several of my blog subscriptions and it is a much different situation than being home with a pre-teen and a teenager who are in school part of the day. But I have enjoyed every last-minute of these two months.

I have been happier than I have been in a long time. My stress levels have returned back to what I would consider normal. I sleep better and I have had a brief opportunity to pursue some creative outlets.  I have had time to breathe and think and philosophize and reflect. More importantly, I have connected with my kids in ways that I had not had the opportunity to at any other time in their lives. My wife has been working full-time while she has a staff member on leave and I have temporarily become the primary care-giver in many ways, cooking them meals, driving them to and from school and their myriad activities, being home with them during the holiday breaks and basically seeing a part of their lives that occurs during “normal working hours” that I, for the most part, had never really seen.  We have sat together in coffee shops and Subway restaurants and other places and had conversations about school and life and family and friends.  I have experienced what it is like to be a family that is more than just four people indiscriminately passing each other on the way to wherever we all need to be next.  Unfortunately, while I have reconnected, my wife has admitted to feeling somewhat disconnected from them. I guess that is the ebb and flow of life in a two parent household.

If I could do this forever, I would, but financially, although we could continue to survive for a while longer, it is not realistic to do so.  So, I move onto the next chapter. I will be self-employed and will keep a home office but will also be on the road for a portion of time.  I mourn the loss of this freedom but understand that the challenge is to find a balance between a rewarding home-life and a consistent work schedule. I don’t know if I have that capability and I worry about which direction the scales will tip.

On the other hand, I will always remember these days, so relaxed and peaceful and contemplative… an opportunity I may not have again for a long time.

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25 Comments

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25 responses to “Mr. Mom

  1. bigsheepcommunications

    Best of luck with the self-employed life!

  2. That is the beauty of new adventures, you never really know how they will turn out. I have a hunch that this one will be better than even you imagined!

  3. My husband and i can relate more than you know. I know you are new to my blog, but we are moving back east with no employment (which I explain in a post titled “The Truth.” My husband is completely starting over and we are switching roles a bit ourselves. I always feel weird about posting links on other blogs to my own, but if you want to read my thoughts about trying to balance the stay-at-home parenting vs career, you can read the “How was Home” which is in the favorites bar. I enjoy your blog so very much and am always inspired by your thoughts. I’m also comforted to know that we are not alone in our own journey as much of what you write rings so very true for us. Enjoy this time with your kids and good luck with your new endeavors!

  4. “Relaxed and Peaceful?” How old are your kids? It was 3 years ago that I was laid off and have been unable to find a job. In fact, it made sense for me to stay home for the first two years as child care is so expensive and jobs weren’t paying enough to off-set those costs. So home I stayed and We live in a tiny place (2 bedroom condo). Relaxed and peaceful is not how I’d describe my life. The kids fight non-stop. They are now 6 & 8. The volume of homework and getting your child to understand everything is insane. It’s a full time job with no breaks…at least at work, you got (2) 15 minutes and (1 hour or 1/2) lunch. With kids going to school at different times, being released at different times, I find I’m a taxi. When I’m not doing that, I’m preparing a snack or meal…

    I HATE THE KITCHEN NOW.

    I find our house is always messier when we are home more. There’s always dishes. There’s always laundry. I clean one spot while another portion our our place is destroyed. Our place always looks like a tornado hit it. I stopped bothering until it’s so disgusting we have to clean. When I worked, you clean the night prior, rushed out of the house in the morning, and returned to a clean home. My daughter didn’t change 15 times in the afternoon and create a pile of laundry.

    Ohhh, relaxed and peaceful. 🙂 Glad that was your experience! I can’t wait to be back in the work force. If I could only find a job…

    • Hi Sandi, you know we have all of that stuff here too. The kids are 11 and 14 and they fight and they are messy and it no doubt wears you down. But I guess I’ve sort of learned to look past some of that and find the balance of positive in the whole thing. Plus I have never been home with them so its a brand new experience for me. The other difference, perhaps, you were laid off and are actively looking for a job, whereas I have not been looking, the pressure of unemployment has not been on my shoulders. Sure over the horizon I always had this new challenge staring me down and that brings on some stress, but for the most part, I was able to enjoy this time.

  5. In reading some of the comments it does reinforce the fact that I’m glad to be employed at this time, despite the things that go on which rub me the wrong way.

    On another note, it is nice to have had time to reconnect and relax on these levels you’re talking about. We work, so hard, every day running around we don’t realize the stress we put ourselves through until we experience this type of change. I’m always amazed by these things.

    Good luck with being self employed too 🙂

    • You are right, we don’t realize the stress we put ourselves under and what it does to our health and well-being. It pays off to step back every once in a while and I don’t mean take a vacation, I mean really step back, away from everything. Not always possible for many of us.

  6. That is great that you had a chance to really spend some time home with the kids. I am currently getting back into the workforce after being home for so long. Sigh. Hard to strike a good balance between missing the family and having enough money to get by, my husband and I are just now trying to figure it out all over again and our kids are still young. Gotta keep on keepin’ on, as they say! Best wishes to you in your new job, Steve.

  7. Glad you got to reboot Steve!! Enjoy your new job and Happy New Year to you!!

  8. Steve good luck with your new job, being a ” house husband ” i think would be ok for a few months.

  9. It’s entirely possible that it may work out where you can take 2 months (maybe not all together) a year to devote to home. Or it may work out that even though you’re working at home, you’ll still have more face time. Two meals a day face to face with family is HUGE.

  10. Sounds like you put the time off to very good use. After all, if we don’t have fulfilling family relationships to enjoy at home, what’s the point of the tremendous struggle to get and maintain careers? Good luck balancing. That’s important.

  11. Aw, what a blessing to have the last couple of months at home. I’ve been the at-home parent since my daughter’s birth 13 years ago. I have three boys as well, ages 3, 6, and 10. It’s definitely been challenging, but incredibly rewarding. I’m so glad I’ve been able to do it.

    Best wishes with your new career!

  12. I think you have ‘hit the nail on the head’ here, Steve. Fathers, traditionally, as breadwinners, throughout most of ‘advanced’ civilization, have missed out on the experience of really knowing their kids. Many grown adults still lament this, go into therapy, or develop odd and self-destructive behaviors around their abandment issues.

    That you have had this quality time to really know your children, is mutually beneficial; maybe they can now have an understanding of what you miss out on by being the breadwinner in the family.

    This really is a heart-felt post, Steve. Nice job. And though I wish you the best in your new job, it’s still disheartening that it may create distance from the heart of your family, as you have come to realize it.

  13. So glad you have been making the most out of this opportunity. Best of luck to you as you figure out which way life’s twisty path is taking you. Wherever you go, take us with you! 😉

  14. I think you are now going to miss them more than you ever have. Exciting times ahead though. What you going to be doing? X

  15. It’s amazing isn’t it when we get the chance to spend more time with our kids! I was Mr Mom for a bit, now I’m Mr Half Mom, though the part time work I’ve managed to get is cleaning so work is like being at home, but getting paid and with shorter coffee breaks. If I manage to get a full time job I won’t miss spending as much time with the kids, because I’ll voraciously gorge myself on the morsels of time I do get to spend with them. Cool Blog as usual and written with such style and emotional eloquence. I’m always glad to read your thoughts and experiences; makes me feel sane!

  16. I wish you good luck tipping the scales in your favor, Steve! An occasional reminder to Julie that you are still not famous might help swing the balance. 🙂

  17. celticadlx

    Wow, guess, as usual, you hit a cord here with quite a few folks. I’ve been the stay at home mom, luckily getting to write. Now my kids are gone and I’ve indie published and am more stressed than I ever was when my kids were home. I miss them. I hate marketing. I love to write but find little time to do it the way I used to when the kids were in school! I love my memories of being able to be home with my kids. I love that they grew up with a parent at home with them. We, you, your wife and I are among the lucky ones. Now, life has new challenges for lots of us and we will carry on. I’m glad to have the rock of my love for and from my kids to see me through.

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