I hit a moment last week that I never thought would come. Three months as a laid-off stay-at-home-dad. I bring this up because two weeks ago we started our youngest in daycare again.
There were two reasons behind this, one we have been on a waiting list for over a year to get our son into this daycare and two when we found out that a spot had opened up, we thought I’d be working at this point.
Having stayed home with him over the last three months, the two of us have become attached to one another. Our snuggles on the couch as we drift off for an afternoon nap and our many deep lunchtime conversations during which I have just accepted that I’m wrong about everything.
I started to enjoy changing diapers. I began to enjoy that mid-day Target runs. I began to enjoy running to the stairs for the 100th time to save our son from impending doom.
Being the typical parent who drops off and picks up our son from daycare when I was working, I had become accustomed to leaving him in the arms of a stranger. It became second nature for both me and him to say our goodbyes in the morning because we knew that there would be hellos in the afternoon.
But these last three months have been different. For one I didn’t think I’d be out of work this long. I figured it would be a month or month and a half tops.
I knew at some point I would be dropping him off again, but I imagined that I’d be wearing my work clothes, not my stay-at-home-dad outfit of cargo shorts and a graphic tee.
But there I was dropping him off, and as I did, he re-enacted an event that our oldest did as he was starting a new chapter in his life, he didn’t turn around to say bye. Almost as if to say, “Dad, I’m cool with this now find a job so you can afford to keep me here.”
Driving to an empty home that morning, I broke down. My life as a stay-at-home-dad was changing from taking care of the kids and attempting to keep the house clean to cleaning for two days, and wondering what am I going to do now on top of heading to the school an hour before it lets out to wait in the school pick up line because apparently, that is the thing to do if you are a stay-at-home-parent in my area.
I broke down because my now toddler is growing up too fast, and for a brief three-month period I was able to stop and take him growing up in and enjoy it, even if at times I didn’t.
Even though I had no reason to believe it, I felt like a failure. I am now home alone, waiting for the phone call that my dream job is offering me a chance to work. I failed my kids because there I was unable to enjoy my time because I was waiting for that phone call. I failed my wife because I am now a twice laid off husband who can’t seem to keep a job.
But the other part of me felt like all of this was meant to happen. It was supposed to be that I had this summer off to pick up my son from summer camp when he started to act up. I needed to be able to spend time with my youngest because who knows what lies ahead in my future career. And if I were working, we wouldn’t have been able to take our family vacation to St Louis.
This is making me work harder though. Now instead of an hour a day job hunting, I can spend 4. I can attend job fairs and can take any interview without having to find care for our youngest. I can catch up on some of these little nagging projects around the house. I can spend more time self-teaching me the skills needed to land my dream job.
We like to say that everything happens for a reason in our house. We have been saying that ever since I was laid-off and now I just need to take it and run at this moment. I need to stop worrying about what might go wrong, knowing that the light at the end of the tunnel is getting closer.