Wednesday, May 14, 2008

The Challanges of being a Stay-At-Home Dad

Let me be completely honest. I didn't think taking care of the kids would be very hard. Cooking, washing clothes, etc, it's not that difficult. My opinion hasn't changed. What has changed is my appreciation of the mental aspects. I had no idea my sanity would be taxed this much. I wanted to have kids, and found, for the most part, I enjoyed dealing with them. I helped teach taekwondo for a few years, so had some small measure of an idea what they were like.

I am still able to deal with my daughters in a way I am happy with, the problem comes when I get frustrated, angry, etc. This, I think, is when most parents act or deal with their children in a way that they are not proud of. We are all human, we all make mistakes The key is reducing those moments to the smallest number possible.

The main mental challenge I face is the isolation. Two year old conversation consists mostly of "Don't do that", or "Put that down!"interspaced with "Why are you crying?", "Tell Daddy what you want", and "Use you words".

In order to keep from going insane, you have to get out. Unfortunately, a few things conspire to make this difficult. Firstly, I am a bit of a home body. I like to stay at home, in my sanctuary. Having two the same age also makes it more difficult, as well as Jocelyn's situation.

But the last thing is the most difficult. People can claim otherwise, but the only reason any parent takes the kids anywhere is to talk to other adults and have an adult conversation. The kids don't really care. My daughter will find a cardboard box or a rock as interesting as a trip, so why go through all the trouble of getting them dressed, getting diapers, toys, wipes, food, etc together just to go somewhere when they would be just as happy at home?

It's for the parents.

That is where being a man is a problem. In this area of Alberta anyway, being a stay at home dad is still a bit of a novelty. Based on my own observations, 99.9% of all stay at home parents are women. When the Wife was pregnant, she came across a stay at home mom group advertising at the local mall. She asked if her husband could join, as he was going to stay home with the kids. They laughed. They were tripping over themselves once they saw she was serious, but, even with all the crap about equality over the past 20 years, it did not occur to them that she might be serious.

So how to join one of these groups? Although I am sure I would be outwardly welcomed, (politically correctness and all that) I feel a bit uncomfortable. It is always all women except me, and I feel like an outsider. I feel like the only guy at the slumber party and I am somehow inhibiting these people from being themselves. I understand that, as any group of guys is not the same when there are women in the group. Besides, they want to talk about women things, which I am not very interested in. The only thing we share in common is raising kids, and that is the last thing I want to talk about. The only solution is some sort of Dad group.

As you can imagine, in our area there are plenty of mom groups around. Dads, not so much. Stay at home dads are somewhat like sightings of Bigfoot or the Lock Ness Monster. When people find out I look after the kids, they often say they know a friend of a friend of a friend who stays at home with their kids. However, no one knows their names or has ever met them. So far, I have heard of two other men in our town looking after kids, and both of these had all the detail and credibility of a Bigfoot sighting.

If there are any guys in the Edmonton area wanting to prevent kid-induced insanity, drop me a line.