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The 5 Stages of Stay-At-Home Fatherhood

Posted: 05/16/2012 11:21 am

One week, not long ago, posts on my personal parenting blog, Fatherhood Is, ground to a sudden halt. Why? I accepted a five-day position as a stay-at-home dad while our nanny was out of town. To date, I've held only a handful of jobs, but being the solitary caregiver for two 4-month-olds was officially the hardest (and most satisfying) of them all. Seriously, stay-at-home parents who do this on the regular deserve a goddamn medal, or better yet... a cape -- cut from the finest cotton polyester blend and adorned with rhinestones.

For most stay-at-home parents, it's a full-time (plus overtime) occupation. My experience was more like an externship; it afforded me the luxury of constant reflection. From shopping for new pants to presenting over Skype to a ballroom full of conference attendees, I did it all with two babies in tow. And in the end, I recognized five distinct stages of my journey. I called them -- aptly enough -- the "Five Stage of Stay-at-Home Fatherhood."

These posts originally appeared on Fatherhood Is.

1. Hesitation
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When faced with the proposition of stay-at-home fatherhood, hesitation will manifest itself in one of two fashions. Either A.) the dad will feel ill-equipped to shepherd his young'uns through a whole day sans mom, or B.) the dad would rather be doing something else entirely. I selfishly identify with the latter.

I love my babies. I love my babies so much I know what their drool tastes like. (Not bad.) But I knew from the outset that being with them all day meant at least ten hours of unadulterated focus, and my mind is notoriously commitment-phobic. To put it in perspective, I've been tooling around on this post for seven minutes now and two of those were spent changing up a playlist on Spotify and another seeing if there were any new posts on The Daily What. Ooh... something about a whale. Hang on.

OK, I'm back.

So, when our nanny informed us she'd be out of town for three weeks, my wife and I had to make alternative arrangements. Ashley was out. Having used all of her vacation and sick days for maternity leave, she couldn't afford to miss any more work. That left me and her mother -- who lives two hours away in an empty nest -- as the next best thing. I took time off to cover the middle week and Ashley's mom kindly agreed to drive in the weeks before and after.

If my wife could do it, if our nanny could do it, if my mother-in-law could do it... it wasn't a question of whether or not I could. There was no question at all; I was going to do it. I was going to stay at home with two four-month-old babies for one week because it was my duty and my delight as a father to do so.

I was going to test my mettle as a stay-at-home dad... and I was going to get lots of work done during their naps.

I was pretty sure that almost everything would hopefully be awesome for the most part.
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