Sometimes, I feel guilty about being a stay at home dad. I mean....my youngest child is 10 years old. My days during the school year are all mine from 9 -3 every day. I am the luckiest guy in the world to be able to have the opportunity to be a primary influence on my kids during these years but....at times....I still feel guilty.
I feel a tremendous amount of pressure.....let's see, that's not really the right word....responsibility to use my time wisely. Trying to define "wisely" is the challenge. When I first became a stay at home dad it was all about staying busy. I was actually afraid that I would run out of things to do....or....not do enough to justify me being home. Uhhh.....yeah....there is always plenty to do. As I have matured in this role of stay at home dad, I have discovered that I have to prioritize what is important. Here are a few of the highlights for me....
Sending and greeting - I treasure the fact that I get to wake up my kids and "send" them off to school...and be there when they get home. That simple, often brief, interaction can help determine the attitude and mood we all will carry into the day and/or evening. Small moments that in a few years will no longer be needed.
Preparing dinner - I love to cook. I'm not great at it....but I love being slighty creative and trying stuff in the kitchen. I also love the fact that by me taking the time to prepare a meal it helps form a gathering point for us all to check in. Honestly....as our life goes....we probably eat out 3X week and can only all sit down together for a meal about 2-3 times during the week. But those times are significant and beautifully mundane.
Pondering - I'm an introvert at heart. I like to roll thoughts around in my head for way too long before I can let them go, come to a conclusion, or just get distracted to the next thought. Being a stay at home dad allows me to just "sit and think" at times. This is important for me.
Getting out - Since I'm an introvert at heart I could easily and comfortably fall into the habit of not reaching out to people during the day. This is a temptation I fight every week. I have found that by listening and intentionally spending time with others - even if it is as simple as eating at the same restaurant during the week for lunch to get to know the wait staff - it helps me grow in understanding and patience. (Anyone for lunch at Ruby Tuesday's!)
Napping - I used to feel guilty about napping during the day. My wife has repeatedly told me this is okay....and that has truly been a gift. (Either way I would still nap - but I can nap with a clear consience!) My body rhythms are such that I really start to shut down between about 1 - 3 pm. Listening to my body and resting.....is good.
Those are just a few - and of course I do actually "work my list" still. Laundry, dishes, grocery shopping, post office, bank, dry cleaner....repeat. But I know that the reason I stay home isn't in what I accomplish....but that I stay home in spite of what I accomplish (as Kimpa will occasionally remind me!)....because it has a huge postive impact on our family.
The other confession I have is that I am the luckiest guy in the world to have married such a Christ centered, supportive, intelligent woman.....who has blessed me in so many ways. And what a privilege it is to walk through life together raising our children - and growing more in love with each other as the seasons pass. God is good.