Tuesday, August 2, 2011

This is not the Cosby Show

Every day on Facebook I see posts from people begging for 5 o'clock to come around. Fridays I see posts from people; TGIF! Sundays I see posts in dreads of impending Mondays.

As stressful as it can be I love my job. I have the hardest to please bosses I have ever had in my working years. They are the most demanding, most obnoxious, rudest bosses ever. I have never been able to please them all at the same time.

They are the most ungrateful and unsatisfied people I have ever worked for. Their demands are unreasonable and give out impossible deadlines to meet at all hours of the day (and night). In fact, my job never ends. There is no time clock, no 5 o'clock. No TGIF. Friday never comes and every day is Monday. No holidays either.

I'm required at least 15 hour days, for every day of the year (excluding school days since all are school age), and includes being on call at all time, like that of a surgeon. But unlike a surgeon who makes over $300,000 a year, I make free room and board and eat left over's.

I'm required to carry many roles for my job. I am a psychologist, a chef, a doctor, a teacher, a nurse, a scholar, a theologian, a handyman, a seamstress, a referee, an interior designer, a fashion designer, tech support, and groundskeeper.

I go by one title, stay-at-home-dad. It has its labels, house husband, babysitter, alpha mom,  male domestic engineer, and the all famous, Mr. Mom. Whatever you want to call it, it's called parenting and in spite of its stigma and long hours it's my most rewarding job ever. Rewards that I don't see nor hear. Even their spouses have their accompanying label, "moms who go to work and are married to stay-at-home-dads."

I recently came across an article with a survey that rated stay-at-home-dads at No. 3 as, "dream jobs that actually suck." Other recent surveys actually show that many working dads would consider this their dream job. I wonder if many of them have really thought about what it takes. There are no days off, kids show no mercy and gender roles are a killer to break down. Not to mention the isolation and loneliness can be relentless.

I have never met another stay-at-home-dad. Isolation and loneliness are the two most real and serious side effect of being a stay-at-home-dads deal with. It happens to the strongest of wills. Sometimes it is hard not to find yourself trapped alone in a corner after days in the house with the only form of adult interaction coming from Facebook. I've been a stay-at-home-dad for most of my fatherhood career of 12 years. Isolation is just part of the job description.

Many miss the intellectual stimulation of the office, co-workers and camaraderie of their friends. Discussing the ethical issues of psychopharmacology in the defense of psychiatric medications, as an example of a conversation I would have with a previous colleague, doesn't have the same stimulation as explaining why roley poley's role up into a ball to a 6yr. old.

I'm not much of a video game player. Wii, computer, iPod, either one they can only hold my attention for a few minutes before I go nuts. My kids, as most kids, on the other hand can be entertained for hours.

We've been stuck in the house for days because of the temperature which for at least two weeks has been in the 100's. Today's high is 111! You can't even swim in that temp. Have you ever been stuck in a house with 5 kids for days?

They're like a pack of a wolves trapped in a locked cage. At any moment any one of them is could turn on another and cannibalism's gonna break out each one devouring another until the last one remains standing. That is unless I eat them first.

At the ages that all 5 of my kids are at, 6,7, 11, 12, & 12, they can really be trying at times. Fights, arguments, bullying, poking and prodding, know it all attitudes, run rampant between them all. It's not out of the ordinary. They're just at those ages and when you get them all together it multiplies. They just act their ages.

In spite of the many fights I've had to break up, or the many times I have had to repeat myself, or how constantly I've been irritated, none of it compares to moments like such one liners such as, "I don't care how good it feels, we don't go commando in this house," to my 7yr. old.

But being a stay-at-home-dad for all these combined years  teaches nothing if not patience. I have learned when to spot an impending tantrum and be able to wait for it to subside. I've learned to wait for lessons to sink in, and for bedtime to bring peace. I've even learned to spot when the cat's need a break.

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Where my inspiration comes from

A Recycled-Dad with Bipolar & Parkinson's, reflections on fathering and family life and other stuff thrown in'll love my Soap Box Rants

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Why I call myself a Recycled Dad

I call myself a Recycled Dad because of the struggles with remarriage and being a step-parent and weekend dad. This is also about my life living with bipolar and how it affects me personally, my family and my job. It also reflects on the grace God has poured out on me throughout recovery from alcohol and an eating disorder. Recycled Dad is about my reflections on the wisdom God teaches daily on fatherhood and being a better husband in spite of being bipolar.

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