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It has finally arrived!

December 15, 2007

I am now a Stay-at-Home Dad.

That term DOES sound strange. I find it odd (and, of course, hypocritical) that when the female parent stays home with the kids, she’s called a “Stay-at-Home Mom”, but when the male parent does that, the grand majority of people call him “unemployed”. Oh well. Screw them.

After just shy of five years’ employment with the State o’ Illinois, I quit to stay home and be with my boys. Why, you ask, would I walk away from a really, REALLY good state job, especially considering I have no education beyond a high school diploma and a few extremely recent semesters of Spanish? Why? That’s very simple.

Some things matter more than others.

My particular position was on the 3pm-11pm shift in an office staffed 24/7 by 5 people. Five. And it wasn’t just a paper-shuffling, 4 breaks an hour type of office, contrary to most people’s conception of the phrase “state employee”. My now ex-office is the central communications hub of the entire agency, plus the routine work we do at least attempts to keep Illinois’ streets safe. MY problem was that I saw my kids for literally about 30 minutes a day. Being the smallest puppy in the seniority kennel, I realized that I would likely stay on 3-11 shift for a good long time, and consequently continue to only see my boys for a half hour a day. That is completely unacceptable to me. So a few months back, my wife and I started discussing the possibility of my staying home. We ran numbers over and over and over, and once we realized that, after all was said and done, my salary amounted to $5.22/hour, it suddenly became a no-brainer.

I was staying home.

I am extremely excited about what lies ahead, and terrified at the same time. Will it work or fail? Will I rejoin the workforce once my youngest gets into kindergarten, or will I stay home forever (“and eat bonbons and watch my stories all day”–you know some of you are thinking that!!)? Will I discover some previously untapped talent and not have to work again? I don’t know. But we have about as golden an opportunity for this as we’ll likely ever have, and I’d rather try and fail than to pass it up and kick myself for the rest of my life for not taking the chance.

Truthfully, I believe it will work. We want it badly enough to make it work. The first few months will be the hardest- trying to hammer out a routine, tweaking it a couple dozen times to find that “perfect” routine, and making the sacrifices we have to make to stay above water, but once we get through that, we can do it. We can do it and we will do it.

This past Friday the 14th we said goodbye to Adam’s daycare. That was really, really tough. They are absolutely wonderful. We’ve been going there since Ian was Adam’s age (more or less right after I started with the State), and they’ve always been extremely good to us. C.J. and her staff are just amazing. When the March 2006 tornadoes struck, the daycare took a pretty big hit. Broken windows, most of the outdoor playground equipment was damaged and/or destroyed, and a good portion of the roof was torn off of the infants room- eerily enough, right above the very crib Adam slept in. In literally less than a week, C.J. had the place back up and running, with little more than a few aesthetic touches left to do. She will always have my respect and admiration for getting her ass kicked by a tornado and yet kicking back even harder. I adore C.J. dearly and will miss her, the staff, and the daycare itself tremendously.

Then Saturday the 15th was my last day at work. In comparison to Adam’s daycare, saying goodbye at work was a piece of cake. There are a few people I will miss (direct co-workers, my office manager, several people I deal with regularly), and I will miss the job itself, in that I loved the work I did. It meant something to me, and while I may have been the only one who thought so, I was pretty damn good at it and I was proud of the work I did. But for the most part, I couldn’t get the hell out of there fast enough. Come 11pm Saturday night, there was nothing left of me but a vapor trail, especially considering my relief was the one person in my office I despise with every fiber of my being. The karma gods got the last laugh on me on that one, making her the last memory I will have of 5 years of state employment. Maybe I’ll tell you about her some time. What a piece of shit work she is.

Anyway, I will use this blog basically as an outlet for the “trials and tribulations” of being a stay-at-home dad (SAHD, as I shall now start referring to the term), sharing stories of potty-training a two-year-old (my first major undertaking as a SAHD), being the primary “homemaker”, “domestic technician”, “deadbeat”, or whatever you choose to call it, and maybe even just doing what little I can to attempt to show people that being a SAHD doesn’t automatically make you a do-nothing loser.

The way I see it, I love my wife and kids enough to do this. I’ve seen and known a lot of fathers and husbands that do everything they can not to be home with their families. True, there are some that may want to but can’t, but I was extremely blessed with this opportunity- which is why I’m seizing it and running with it.

This blog may be informative, may be boring, may be funny, may be heartwrenching, may be just insanely unbearable to read. But it’s all true and from the heart. I hope you’ll stick around.

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