First off, let me tell you how much I despise being called Mr. Mom. I have heard that term applied to me repeatedly by people who honestly thought they were being witty. Fie! A pox on them and their spawn! So much for suffering
in dignified silence. If you are one of those people who referred to me as Mr. Mom, now you know how I honestly felt about that. Even though I have called a curse of the pox on you and your progeny, I truly don't mean it. We're still chill in my book. But
please don't call me that again.
I'm a stay at home dad. I have been in this role since shortly after my youngest daughter was born. That is 16 years now. I have been asked whether I regret having taken on this job, and the answer is, "Heck yeah!" and "Absolutely
not!" Saaaay whaaaaaaat?!?!?
The decision to become a houseman came down to economics, career path, personal satisfaction but mostly we wanted to have one of us raise our children, not someone else. Almost my entire paycheck was going to daycare. Although
it was economically very tight at first, my wife could concentrate on her career while I took care of the house and kids. And she did more than her fair share in raising the kids and taking care of domestic issues.
What are the things that cause me to admit regret at having taken on the task of being a houseman? Cleaning a house ad infinitum, for me, does not bring satisfaction. Also, it was very lonely in the early days. I had no one to
talk to. There aren't that many guys to hang out with during the day. They are engaged in gainful employment whereas I was encouraging babies to "make pooh-pooh" in the toidy, failing at keeping a house clean and slowly falling apart. Most of the moms were
nice, but didn't really encourage my participation in their circles, or maybe I just felt like the odd man out. Our stint in Germany was quite different. I had a lot more male contact, and the women accepted me as one of them. It was almost a shock to have
friends again. I know I was doing the right thing. Though my mind accepted this, my soul did not. I was doing something important and felt horribly guilty for not feeling personal satisfaction or a sense of making a difference.
Maybe I have matured, because I can honestly say that now I don't have regrets. (On the other hand, it may just be senility.) Now that my girls are essentially grown up and on the cusp of living independent lives, I can say that
the personal sacrifices were worth the cost. My eldest is sensitive, and feels other people's pain. She is also very, very smart. I think that academics may come too easily to her because she never appears to work. She also has challenges to overcome, but
she has the tools to conquer her shortcomings. She will be fine. My youngest is smart, creative and passionately loyal to her friends. She also has a strong sense of right and wrong. Injustice offends her sensibilities. Again, she has her share of challenges,
but, like her sister, she has the tools to overcome. I am proud of them. They have taken the best of their mother, scrounged a few things from me (youngest burps and farts like a champ!) and have managed to rise above my ineptitude.
I disparage myself in the name of humor. But the simple truth is, I was and am a horrible home maker. I am a good dad, but if we are honest, most of us would have to admit that we haven't a clue as to what we are doing in raising
children. The fact that mine have turned out to be morally upright, decent and just really cool is more a reflection of the resilience of the human spirit and the grace of God in our lives than my incredible parenting skills. I told my oldest once that she
had to forgive me, but she was our experimental child. I was trying to let her know that we weren't perfect. Four years later I heard crying coming from her bedroom after she had gone to bed. I came in to find out what was wrong. Dads can fix everything, after
all. She told me, "I'm just your experiment!" I wasn't sure whether to bark out, "Suck it up for crying out loud!" or to laugh. I hugged her and held her instead. Then I explained what I had meant. She's not an experiment, my parenting is an experiment. I
think she survived that.
Spending time with my children has been a blessing. Even at the worst times, it turns into a blessing. I believe that this is an example of God working in our lives. My advice to anyone thinking of being a parent is this: The
more you love them, the better they will turn out despite your shortcomings. "Love covers a multitude of sin."