Saturday, April 13, 2013

Earning the title, Stay-at-Home Dad

Being a stay-at-home dad was never a role that I imagined that I would play in life. And maybe, that is why I have not lived up to that huge responsibility, especially recently. Not at all. Not even close!

Now, don't misunderstand. I don't say that I never imagined myself as the stay-at-home type because I am of the traditional mind-set that a man's place is out in the workforce, "bringing home the bacon," while his wife tends to the children and upkeep of the home. I am not that guy! I instead, always imagined myself married to a strong and independent woman whom I would work hand-in-hand with to build a welcoming home that is full of happiness, hard work and God's love.

God sent me that strong and independent woman and later this year we will celebrate 10 wonderful years of marriage. I thank Him every day for the blessing that she is and continues to be in my life.

God also blessed me with two beautiful children who are overflowing with love, their momma's brains and work ethic, and my sense of humor and stubbornness.

Together, my wife and I were forging ahead. We were working diligently to build a home for our children that had all the warmness that a child should remember their upbringing for having.

Then, a few years ago, God gave me yet another blessing: Congestive Heart Failure. (How generous, right?)

You are probably thinking, what?!?! How is this guy going to sit there and tell me that Congestive Heart Failure (or CHF) is a blessing??? Well, for me, it truly was. I'll spare you the details of the many trials and tribulations that the past several years have dealt us and instead share with you this lyric from the song "Beautiful Boy" which was written and released by John Lennon in 1980. The song says: "Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans."

Man, oh man, how true are those words?!?! 

We were so busy making plans for the rest of our lives together that we seemed to lose track of the notion that God already had a plan laid out for us and we were well into the second act of His plan.

We all know how impossible it is to support a family on one income and it was becoming obvious rather quickly, that I had to go back to work. I have to admit, I was relieved. Don't get me wrong. I love my kids. They are the center of my universe. But being with them all day, everyday, and having no adult interaction for a vast majority of the day, was not my cup of tea. So quickly, before things could get any worse, I went out and got a part-time job. Just as I was settling into that job, I got called back to the job to a previous job that I had. I would be making double what I was making at the part-time job and I loved that job when I had it before. Not to mention, WE NEEDED THE MONEY!

So, I settled back into that job, with the long work days and an hour and a half commute every day, not considering for one moment that it was in God's plan for me to be at home with my children at this point in their life. That maybe, I was meant to be at home, caring for them and offering support and encouragement to my wife as she worked her tail off to provide for us. That I needed to be her backbone and He was going to take care of the rest. 

I had been back at that job for maybe two months when I became desperately ill. I fought it, and fought it like I always do, because, "I'm not going to the doctor." 

"I don't need to go to the doctor," I said.

Then one Saturday morning, I woke up and went to get ready for work. I still had this crud. Some sort of chest cold or something that I just could not shake. I remember that morning so vividly. I called one of the other assistant managers and asked if he could go and open for me. I explained that I was going to the hospital and that hopefully, I could get some sort of antibiotic and that I would be on in as soon as possible.

Three days (and many tests) later, I was diagnosed with Congestive Heart Failure. My ejection fraction was devastatingly low. But I wasn't going to pay no mind to those doctors when they told me that I needed to take it easy for a little while. I hurried back to work and threw myself into it headfirst. We had some important things coming up and I was going to make sure that it all went perfectly.

Long story short (but not really), my body just couldn't do it anymore. After a long conversation with my cardiologists and me sifting through every other option, it was made readily clear by both my cardiologists and my wife that I was going to have to take an indefinite amount of time off and get my heart back in shape and my health back in order. 

I've told you all of this for a reason. I probably could have said it more eloquently or possibly got to the point a bit quicker, but I didn't. Besides, we are here now.

God sent me several signs that He wanted me at home with my children. I chose to ignore those signs until he forced my hand and showed me that He was going to get His way. You know, that whole, "Thy will be done..." part of the bible. (Matthew 6:10)

His will was for me to be at home with my children. I have been home with them for over two years now. And yet still, after all this time, I am still not doing His will. I am not living up to what he expects of me. 

Last fall, one of our children moved on to Kindergarten, leaving her younger brother at home. It was so much easier when they were both at home. They kept each other occupied, making it so easy for me to ignore the fact that I wasn't doing as I should have been. Since she went off to school, and I only have one child at home, I have noticed how much down time he has. Time that could be spent doing so many entertaining, educative and enriching activities. Simply put, I have really been doing a disservice to the child at home. And that is where the title of this entry comes into play. I have been playing the role of a Stay-at-home Dad, but I haven't even come close to earning the title.

Today, I wanted to begin to rectify that. He and I went to the Arboretum, the State Botanical Garden of Kentucky, and to McConnell Springs, a twenty-six acre natural areas park located at the historic springs where the city of Lexington, Kentucky was named. We wrapped up our morning by joining a friend for lunch at her job. 

I really think/hope that he had a grand time. At the Arboretum we talked about the different flowers and trees and that were blooming and the fact that the seasons were changing and what that meant.

At McConnell Springs, I made a very bad attempt at explaining to him what the springs were and what was going on there. I really could have used my wife's assistance there. Especially considering the fact that she has a Bachelor's degree in teaching Science. Maybe next time I will ask her to write up a brief lesson plan. :)

Although days like this are hard on me physically, I hope to have more of them in the future. I need to work on finding things to do with my children that expand their minds and make them think but that are fun at the same time. With summer coming, and the older child being at home, I need to work diligently to not slip back into old habits and let them become one another's entertainment. Every now and then, that's okay. But not on every minute of every day.

For the past couple of years, I have played the role of Stay-at-home dad. Now it is time for me to earn the title. They deserve nothing less.


  1. I'm glad you are starting to come around to the idea. You don't have to be an expert. I'm not. The kids just want to spend time with you. I love having you home more with us despite the horrible things that have happened to get you there. Love You!

  2. I think you're a great dad. I've watched you with them. You are very patient, for one. No one is ever perfect, of course, but you also recognise that time with your children is precious. It's something that many parents never really 'get'. Your son and daughter are very lucky to have the parents they have. I know you struggle daily to give them the things they need, and some they want, but most of all, you both interact with them in a way that they will remember and appreciate once they've reached adulthood (although don't count on it during the teen years). :)