Tuesday, February 8, 2011

The Stay-at-Home Dad

First, let's start with the good news: McLovin is done going to Again-istan! Not that he still isn't needed there, or that he doesn't want to help make it a better place for both our troops and the Afghanis, but, after too many years in too many dangerous places, he's decided that maybe it was time for him to do something a little safer and a little closer to home. He'll be starting that after taking a couple of well deserved weeks off. The IHPs are super excited about him being home for a little while. Me? I'm discovering that there are some distinct phases of the Stay-at-Home Dad:

Phase One: Whatcha Doin' Now?
I had about one day to get used to the idea that he was going to be home. He told me on a Thursday night, and he was home on a Friday evening. If you're keeping track at home, I didn't get back from work on Thursday night until about 2am, and he wasn't gone at 7am like usual, so really, I had about eight seconds to process it. The first day was pretty cool. He took Happy to school and then ran errands that I would normally run so I could goof off with Mrs. Darling at the preschool. Then I went to Lydia's to goof off some more, and finally returned home with Happy in tow right around noon.

OK, the great secret here that all moms know - and that we try to keep secret - is that our afternoons are sometimes a little...fluid. There is no need to ask any specific questions about our day. It was good, kids are happy, some laundry got done and put in a big pile, and there's probably something good for dinner. Anything more specific, and we turn into CIA agents.

Ladies, he. was. in. my. house. Following me around. Saying things like, "so, whatcha gonna do now?"

What? Happy was fed, comfortable, resting and quiet. Dinner was planned, and both the washer and dryer were running.

McLovin: What do you do now?
Me: Goof off on Facebook?
[twenty minutes later]
McLovin: Now what are you going to do?
Me: Umm, I was going to call Lydia.
McLovin: Didn't you just hang out with her for three hours?
Me: Hey...maybe you want to go pick up something for dessert?
[thirty minutes later]
McLovin: Whatcha doin'?
Me: Playing on the blog and watching Law & Order. Shhhh.
[ten minutes after that]
McLovin: So, what happens next?
Me: GAH! I take a nap and then, tonight, I kill you in your sleep.

That man needed to get out of my house immediately. For stay-at-home moms, this is our office. I told him I was going to follow him around his office all day asking the same questions. He told me I didn't have security badges to get into his building. I told him I was having security badges made for my house.

Phase Two: I've Got Time 
There's that Golden Hour in my house that hits maybe once or twice a week. I can never plan for it, because it's kinda like a unicorn. It has to find you. You have to just be worthy enough for it to come. It goes a little something like this: you get through the clusterf**k of getting the kids up, dressed, fed, brushed, shoe'd, socked, jacketed, gloved, backpacked, lunch-packed and out the door.  Then you take the little one to little school...gossip in the halls, get a coffee and maybe go to the grocery store or post office.

You return home to clean up the hurricane that apparently hit while you were at Kiss 'n' Ride. Then, you look at the clock and see that you have one blissful golden hour of solitude and quiet before you have to pick up the pre-kid from the pre-school.

Sometimes I write. Sometimes I take a really long shower. And sometimes I just sit on the couch and do not a mur.thur.fur.kin. thing. The point is, I'm alone.

On Day Four, Phase Two hit. I was sitting at my desk working when McLovin came up behind me for a kiss. Then another. And another. And....oh, wait just a minute here, pardner. I got some work to do and I need to finish this for Lydia and I have a conference call in ten minutes and why are you not at work?

McLovin: Ten minutes! [pauses to think] I'll only need four.

Was I late for that conference call? Nope.

Phase Three: Oprah & Bonbons
When snowmageddon hit, I discovered the appeal of the SaHD. I had to go to work, and Nanny is about as skilled at driving in the snow as I am - which is not at all - so she had a few days weeks off. McLovin was on kid patrol. All day, every day. At one point I went out of town. Without having to plan for every moment I was away. It was kind of awesome.

I think he started to get used to it himself. Typically, he got up every morning a little before five to read the paper, have some coffee and stroll around the house before he went to work. Then it was a little before six. Then later...last week I had to shake him awake so he could get the kids fed and off to school. Later that afternoon, I get this:

mclovin@home.com: How's your day looking?
kate@work.com: Haha. That's just another way of saying "whatcha doin' now?" Good. Home by 7.
mclovin@home.com: Excellent. Dinner?
kate@work.com: Your call...kids get to school OK?
mclovin@home.com: Yep. I'm just sitting here waiting for Oprah to come on.
kate@work.com: Nice. Did you remember to buy bonbons?
mclovin@home.com: yup. 
kate@work.com: so, really, what are you doing?

He never answered. Did we just change jobs and I didn't realize it? Wait. Does that mean the money I make would have to be used for actual living expenses like the mortgage and heat and stuff? Crap. That man needs to get back to work.

Phase Four: A New Job? But Why?
Or....maybe we can wait a while longer. Since he's been home, I've cooked less, the house is cleaner, I haven't had to go anywhere with all three kids in tow just for one kid's activity, and, this morning, that man actually started the laundry. And it was all white. And it came. out. of. the. dryer. still. white. I think I might have teared up a little bit.

He's gone back to the gym, he doesn't have his Blackberry permanently attached to his body and I think he might be aging in reverse. Holy Maude! He's turned into Benjamin Button. We have a vacation planned for the end of the month, and he says after that it's time to go back to work. I'm thinking if *I* work more, he can stay home longer. Like maybe forever.

Well, right up until he becomes younger than the kids. Which means I got a little time. Four minutes outta be enough.
(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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