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On Being Mr. Mom 
Apr. 17, 2013 10:31 am 
Updated: Apr. 18, 2013 12:48 pm
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."
Apr. 17, 2013 10:44 am
Wonderful blog Doc.I stayed home with our girls till the oldest was 12 and youngest 10,and don't regreat a moment of it.It was wonderful,i learned that housework won't run away,it will be there after we are done playing.My girls are grown and on their own now,and after reading this,thinking back,and in the present, we did a pretty good job raising our girls to be independent young women.We are very proud of our girls.
Apr. 17, 2013 10:50 am
I loved this blog Doc! Inspiring!
Apr. 17, 2013 11:02 am
Thanks for your kind words manella and ladanams. It's overcast and I'm feeling a bit sentimental!
Apr. 17, 2013 12:20 pm
Doc, I seriously doubt many women are fulfilled by cleaning house. They feel a sense of accomplishment and pride in the finished product but the drudgery to get it, not so much. We also wanted to have our children blessed by our child rearing errors than a strangers but two salaries were necessary so DH and I both accepted evening shift hours at various times over the years. We were also so fortunate to have both my father and his mother living with us. Enjoy them while you can, they grow up and leave home so quickly.
Apr. 17, 2013 1:59 pm
BSM, I know that there are many who would love to have the opportunity to do what I did. My wife and I were very fortunate that we had the option to choose to have one of us stay home. Like I said, financially it was pretty tight at first. And now the kids will soon be on their own. What a blessing to have an extended family under one roof! I'm sure there were challenges, but still, I know I would love it.
Apr. 17, 2013 4:02 pm
Doc what a good blog. An inspiring story to be sure. I am just now getting the hang of keeping a house neat and clean. While my son was growing up it always seemed we would get company when the sink was full of dishes, or the carpet covered in dog hair and every toy and book spread over the entire house. Maybe I don't really have a handle on house work may the house just stays neater and cleaner because I am no longer raising a family in it.
Apr. 17, 2013 4:28 pm
I became a "houseman" as a grandfather. The girls father wimped out of fatherhood and it's responsibilities leaving our daughter to bear the load entirely. The girls were 3 months and three years of age. My work schedule allowed me to help out some. I was first called "Mr. Mom" shortly afterward at the local market by an acquaintance that believed his humor was original. It PO'd me but I kept quiet. Later I was thinking about it and realized I had never seen him with his own four kids unless his wife was with him and I wondered if he was missing some important moments in their lives.
Apr. 17, 2013 5:26 pm
Thanks Joey Joan. I don't think I'll ever really get the hang of it, but the house will seem cleaner the less it is lived in. Grandkids should take care of that!
Apr. 17, 2013 5:30 pm
Original humor lifted straight out of a movie. Gotta love it. Friends of mine are raising their grand daughter. She is in high school. She was doing really badly and getting into a lot of trouble. Now she's a straight A student. She still has a certain attraction for things less profitable, but she's a kid. They are really helping her grow. They said it's easier with grandchildren. I admire you for taking such a strong interest in your daughter's children. Then again, what else could you have done?
Apr. 18, 2013 3:29 am
Doc, what a wonderful blog! Your girls sound great and I believe you hit the nail on the head - raising children is an experiment of sorts and the more you love them the better they turn out! I applaud you for taking on the housekeeping duties - I can say I never enjoyed a moment of the housecleaning. Nope, not even a second! We both had to work,but Dad was as much involved with our kids as I was. I really did enjoy reading this - the love for your girls is very obvious.
Apr. 18, 2013 7:37 am
Thanks Mother Ann, My girls are great, but right now I am wondering why it looks like my eldest's luggage exploded in the kitchen. Oh yeah! She came home, threw everything everywhere and left it where it landed. *sigh* I guess she gets to clean what I can't get at.
Apr. 18, 2013 10:16 am
Great blog, Doc. I don't think "cleaning a house ad infinitum" brings anybody satisfaction. At least it didn't/doesn't me. I used to tell my children they didn't come with instruction manuals. They didn't really understand or appreciate what I said...until they had children of their own. Like you, I am so grateful for the grace of God...because I didn't know what I was doing either and certainly can't take credit for much of anything.
Apr. 18, 2013 12:48 pm
Hi Doc. My husband's best friend from school opted to be the stay at home parent. Let me say, he kept a nicer home than I did! Their kids are grown and gone now and I am sure that the empty nest syndrome hit him harder than he ever let on. He sure took some ribbing throughout the years and always handled it with grace. He has really thrown himself into fixing up the house and garden, now that the kids are grown. I think I can honestly say, he doesn't have any regrets for having chosen this path. However, like many of us, now he has to decide what he wants to do now.
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Doc Simonson

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St. Peter, Minnesota, USA

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About Me
I'm old and smelly, kinda like a really good salami with that really nice white mould all over it.
My favorite things to cook
Meat, carbs, meat, carbs, meat, carbs and did I mention meat?
My favorite family cooking traditions
Drop a plate of Pierogis and sausages in front of me and watch my eyes glaze over in pure joy.
My cooking triumphs
Schweinebraten mit Knoedel und Krautsalat. Also Edel Hirsch Gulasch was very nice. I make killer Spaetzle and Knockerl also.
My cooking tragedies
There aren't enough electrons in cyberspace! :) Actually, the tragedies usually involve well intentioned creativity out of control.
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