Lately, on my personal Facebook page, I have started to notice a disturbing trend. No, it isn’t the endless stream of political posts that only seem to divide our nation further. It isn’t that I haven’t seen a cute cat video in 48 hours. And it isn’t that I haven’t seen a funny meme in a week. To be honest, it doesn’t have anything to do with what other people are posting online.
It Is What I Am Posting
The trend at least for myself has been posting about how badly I want to get back to work. It’s true, I do. Even though I’m roughly three months into being a stay-at-home-dad and slowly starting to get the hang of it, I still don’t think that I could hack it long term. But those posts, about me wanting to get back to work send a wrong message about what it is like for me to be a stay-at-home-dad.
Yes, I am enjoying staying at home with our youngest. I take pride in going to the grocery store every day because we forgot to get the bread and milk… again. I have become a regular at Target, so much so that the stay-at-home-moms are asking when I’m going to come in wearing yoga pants. I make sure to let them know that my cargo pants are fine and if they see me coming in with a man romper, we might be getting close to seeing me in those yoga pants.
I’m A Conflicted Stay-At-Home-Dad
What is all boils down to is that I feel like I am not providing for my family. Every morning, I kiss my wife as she walks out the door to go to work, wishing it were me. I dream of fighting rush hour traffic, to walk into a cubicle, and feel like I am doing something with my day. I wish that I could talk around the water cooler about the latest on Scandal, that I have to be able to fake my way through because I have kids and have absolutely no time to watch TV. I wish that I could eat my lunch without a toddler feeding the dog from his high chair, looking up at pictures of my family, hoping I could spend every moment with them.
So you see how I have become conflicted being a stay-at-home-dad. Deep down, I know that staying home, keeping our son out of daycare, while being able to go pick up our oldest when he acts up at summer camp, making those Target runs, and doing odds and ends around the house IS providing for our family. My wife knows that, her extended family knows it, my extended family knows it, and I’d even venture to guess that even my kids know it.
But why don’t I know it?
It seems that every nap time is my only time to get some peace and quiet. It is the only time that I can safely walk down to the computer, and start the process of filling out applications in the hope that I am writing the words that will have my resume make it past the automated HR software and into the hands of an HR director.
But every time I hit send, I look around and see the mess our house is in. I see the things that need to be picked up, the dinner from two nights ago that is now caked on the floor and needs to be mopped up, and a bathroom that needs to be cleaned up from a 6-year-old who is incapable of hitting the toilet bowl.
I can’t help but think that if being a stay-at-home-dad was not temporary, things would be different. The house would be cleaner, we wouldn’t have to make late night grocery runs to get the bread and milk, and I’d be happier knowing that this is how I’m providing for my family. The same can be said for when the phone rings with a job offer. The house will be cleaner because it won’t have two men living in it all day, we will have to make late night grocery runs for bread and milk, and I’d be happier knowing that the next day, I get to go to work.
With everything feeling temporary, I am looking for some permanency. Whether it is the decision to be a stay-at-home-dad or the decision to go back to work, I want to be able to get both feet on the ground and run head on into whatever challenge it presents.