Hello, I am going to write about being a stay at home parent. Let me get this out of the way first. I will spare you all the heartwarming shit. The babble about how it is such an adventure and an honor and the most wonderful thing on earth to clean snot out of a kid’s nose as he screams in public or how cool it is to find dried up cheetos crumbs underneath his finger nails before bed time. I will save that for another post where we all eat pancakes together, sing a Beach Boys song, and discuss the joys of parenthood with matching glasses of Irish Whiskey.
Today I am going to tell you why stay at home parents don’t get enough credit. Before the full time parents fire flaming arrows attached to a splintered tree branch at my ass, hear me out. Parents aren’t getting trashed here. Not even a little bit. Level with me. A parent who works a full time job only sees their child for a small portion of the week. The average parent works 40 hours, spend at least 10 hours in traffic, sleeps a rough 35-40 and crams all the kid time into the weekend. That’s honorable. My wife does that(except she works 60 hours a week at least). The fact is stay at home parents fight the beast of a child mano a mano all week. Every day. All day. Let’s not get into child care or the lack there of. Financial situation mapping out the way it is at the moment, it’s me and my three year old Vincent 7 days a week. How does it go?
When people ask me about being a stay at home parent or what’s like to be a parent of a three year old in general, my answer is easy. Get a part time job at an elderly care facility. Take care of a few old people. Get used to the duties. Get used to the smell of the job. Get the hang of taking care of somebody who is hopeless in caring for their own well being. Develop a repertoire when it comes to cleaning their ass and helping them walk straight. Being the parent of a three year old 24/7 is very similar to watching over a very old person. The kid is a lot cuter, but equally helpless. Sometimes I feel like taping a picture of Burgess Meredith on Vincent’s face to bring clarity to the situation. A stay at home parent suffers through the worst part of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The old miniature infant at the end of the movie who is helpless. When you spend every moment from wake to sleep with a kid, it’s a 12 round boxing match and all a parent can do is NOT get knocked out and recover a little dignity at 9pm when the beast sleeps(or begins the process of screaming himself to sleep).
Let’s break it down into situations between my son and I.
STAYING INDOORS DUE TO WEATHER OR GENERAL LAZINESS
I’ll be honest. There are days were neither of us change out of our sleep wear. Cloudy skies, sunny skies or something natural such as laziness keeps us indoors. Cold weather also keeps us indoors. Being inside with a kid is challenging because the matchup is you and the house against the kid. Vincent can either spend the majority of the day reading books, playing trains and watching movies quietly or he can get an open bag of chips and crumble a handful up into five separate areas of the house. He can climb a step ladder into the pantry and make a trail of food next to his train set tracks for you to clean up when the haze of dishes and laundry clears. Let’s say you take an hour or two to yourself. Crazy, right? Let’s dream a little and say you do. Afterwards, you peek out of the office and gauge the situation. Vietnam or a mere training exercise? It’ll never be clean in your house when you have a kid. Get that thought out of your head. Swallow that pill right away. They own the house and you pay the mortgage. Young kids are movie stars without the six month film shoots. So when you take a small break for yourself, expect more to clean up when you come back. I am a clean freak but have tampered the needs down to “kind of clean” since Vinny turned a minute old. Staying indoors may seem like less work but essentially, it becomes more because he can mess stuff up that you need to clean up. He’s the rock star who can’t be blamed for eating his own nose cheese or slapping you in the face with his 4 pound toy, so get used to being #2 for a long time. It’s your fault, including the mess in the corner of the kitchen.
VENTURING OUTSIDE TO THE PLAYGROUND
Seems easy, right? Think again. Going out to a playground with a three year is a game of damage control. The ability to get the kid into a fun area and get him out alive and limbs all intact. A scrape on the knee or a knot on the head is fine, but general concussions and serious injuries have to be avoided. Other kids can be nice because you don’t have to do as much, but this means the chance of your kid knocking another kid the fuck out comes into play. Or the other way around. Two three year old’s clashing is cute at first until a struggle happens(five minutes after playing together). It could be over who gets to go down the slide or who gets an ordinary pebble of sand or scoop of dirt to their collection. Once again, letting the kid have fun, not hurt any other kids or get seriously hurt himself is the name of the game here.
GOING TO WALMART
Walmart is going to stand in here for grocery stores, department stores or whatever comes into your mind. Walmart is a candy land for kids. They will start putting Ritz cracker snacks in the bedding department just to screw parents over. The funniest and saddest part of the trip is the parent telling the kid, “All you are getting is one toy and a cheap one.” That plan is aborted the minute the kid screams loud and starts to smack himself. Vinny does this. He smacks himself and rocks his head back and forth like a caveman trying to connect a cell phone call. It’s a horror flick inside 60 seconds. By the time you collect the groceries, shampoo and shaving cream, the kid has a piece of candy, a toy, a book and two packs of colors(one of which is opened and on his hands) before checkout. The parent never wins when they to Walmart. Taking a kid to Walmart must be like going through a divorce. You don’t want to lose everything.
GOING TO A RESTAURANT
Restaurant good behavior starts out as a 30/70 bet. It’s like betting on the horse with a gimpy leg to win a race. Forget about it. Vinny doesn’t care if we go to a nice Italian place or Denny’s. The kid doesn’t just want a meal to himself, a pack of crayons, and all the cuddles he can get. He wants to give me a headache. He wants to cause us distress. You ever go to a restaurant and your kid is acting so good, there’s an attempt to pinch your arm or nod off because you think a miracle is being witnessed? It’s surreal and happens every time a solar eclipse does. Taking a three year old to a restaurant is like driving in the middle of a thunderstorm. It’s going to be bad, and the only question is HOW BAD is it going to be. It’s hard enough to get good service and food. Expecting a young toddler to be well behaved is downright illogical.
TEACHING SOMEONE HOW TO TAKE A SHIT
A stay at home parent is responsible for a lot. I don’t know about you, but I have never taught a person how to take a shit in a toilet before. When that is mastered, then you have to teach them how to wipe their ass properly. This happens before the baseball and football toss. The proper angle to wipe an asshole. There may be books out there breaking it down but that was written about a different kid. I hate parents who try to give you advice based off their experience with their kids like they are teaching you about breathing fresh air or making a pot of coffee. It’s nice and means well but is 100% false. Every kid is different. If they were all the same and could be trained the same way, what the fuck would be so special about them? Parenting advice is so bad it’s not even recycled garbage, it’s just wrong. Next time a parent asks you a question, say the three best words in the world. I DON’T KNOW. So easy and honest. When in doubt, be blunt instead of nice. Life transpires better that way.
Once Vinny learns how to wipe his ass and use the toilet, the stay at home dad duty gets so much easier. This is the final step before you come a man. Grades, driving a car, drugs, alcohol, and other dangers don’t occur for at least a few years or when the kid is 8 years old. Once Vinny learns how to properly take a dump and master the art of cleanup, he is resting on the first step of being a grownup.
Sure, it’s cute when your kid scrambles forty different syllables together to make three words sound sort of right or when they dance or shake their ass for a cool video on Instagram, but the real video upload of the year is a three picture framed Facebook post of a turd, the wipes used to clean up and the hands being washed. That’s real skill and art there. That doesn’t come when you beg your child to repeat a dance move or smile for the camera. I’m sorry folks. It’s just not.
BIG FAMILIES AND WHY I CAN’T DO IT
When I see parents with 4-6 kids, I want to ask them if they thought about hiring offensive and defensive coordinators for their everyday activities. A coach to go with them when the family goes to the store and another coach for when the house is getting trashed. If you want that many kids, it may be logical to think of hiring some coaches. “Clorox wipes on 3, 1-2-3, Let’s Go Team”. I can’t imagine having more than 2, because Vinny has the personality of sixteen different people right now. His personality is still coming together and while cute and ambitious, it’s scary shit at times.
I think a rule should be for NFL Broadcasters to use a phrase Vinny said about his trains going fast when a quarterbacks makes a good passing play. “Smahahagonda…intat.bangarnous..ohaaaaaahhh” is what Vinny puts together when he gets real excited. Practice that one, Joe Buck. Just an idea.
Folks, being a parent is hard shit and that is my life as the father of a three year old boy. A girl seems to be SO MUCH worse because of the whole…you know…the(paging Mom now). It’s hard times. When someone asks me what it’s like, I tell them it’s fucking hard. Prepare to lose a good portion of your life to sounding out identical phrases for up to four hours combined per day. “Don’t do that”, “Stop it”. “Sit down”, and “Wait your turn” are top ten hits until the kid turns 15. Parenting will age you, take a shot at ruining a marriage, stress people out to the highest level and make you question how good of a person you are. You never get a more honest look at yourself than when you are in charge of a kid all day. The choices you make get that ball rolling fast.
Being a stay at home parent just raises the stakes because it’s you and him all day long. I found out how good of a parent I am when I have been at home with Vin. How often do I yell at him? Too much. How often do I feel like hitting him? Too much. How often do I feel like hitting something? Too much. It’s a real test. If you are going to be a stay at home parent, trust me and train by getting a job at a retirement home with real old people. Staying at home is a mission under any circumstances. There’s zero pay for the job but lots of responsibility. You can fuck up a lot of things without cashing a paycheck. Are there rewards at the end of the day? Sure. That moment when you finally rest on the couch and rub your hand over your face, where you get a whiff of that shit stain you didn’t clean off your hand after that last pullup change.
There’s bliss in stay at home parenting, but it’s fleeting. I don’t regret staying at home with Vin as my wife works, but if I ever hear someone call it easy, I am going to smash a brick over their head…twice.
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