Yeah, I ride a motorcycle. No, I don’t have a job.
But I do the laundry, do the dishes, clean the house, and walk the dog. I fix things that are broken. I put new handlebars on my Harley. Alaina and I take turns making lunches & making breakfast. But I love to cook, so I make dinner a lot. I also pick up the occasional marketing consulting gig and help companies tell clear, compelling, consistent stories about their products and services. I also make things out of leather. I do all of the above and I am a stay at home dad.
And I’m loving every minute of it.
Let’s rewind 11 years, though, and I’ll tell you the sorta-short version of how I came to this place of stay-at-home-dadhood.
In 2001, my dad, brothers, and I started a business. We saw a huge opportunity in the housing market and worked like hell to make it succeed. We raised money from investors, got it open, and it was awesome. Until it all came crashing down 6 years later right along with the housing market. And then came the hard part. Investors lost their money, vendors got pennies on the dollar (if anything at all) in the corporate bankruptcy. And, for 6 months before the company went through bankruptcy, I didn’t get paid.
So, in January 2007, I did what I needed to do to provide for now ex-wife and our two kids. I got a job (through a friend) driving a forklift. Outside. At night. In the Ohio winter. It was so cold my eyelids froze together when I blinked. One night, my boots froze solid. Every night, I got home around 2 a.m., slept until 8 a.m., got up, got Lily ready for and took her to school. Then, until 3:00 p.m., I would look for marketing jobs and go on interviews.
In May of 2007 I landed an awesome job with a publisher down in San Antonio, Texas. One of the things I loved most about the move: it was warm! Then I found out about breakfast tacos. Holy bacon & egg goodness. Career-wise, Texas was outstanding– I got paid well to do great work with great people. Relationship-wise, it was a disaster. The cracks in my marriage that were held in place back in Ohio by our friends and family became the Grand Canyon. But I was in denial. For three years. For three years, I convinced myself, in spite of decisions on her part pushing us further and further apart, that I could save our marriage. That I could make it work. What was actually happening – I was just waiting for her to leave.
By Christmas 2010, I was finished waiting. It was time to figure out exactly what I wanted out of life, and start making choices– however hard they would be– that got me closer to it. I wanted my kids, and I wanted us to move back to Ohio so they could grow up around their cousins, aunts, uncles, and grandparents. My lawyer and I prepared for a nasty court battle, but we were able to work out an amicable agreement via mediation in May. One of the stipulations was this – Lily, Cohen, and I could move back to Ohio if I got a job there that gave me a certain increase in compensation. By the end of that week, I had a signed offer letter from a publisher in Columbus that met all the requirements. Plus, it was going to be a lot of fun, and the people were fantastic.
June, 2011, and the kids and I were officially back in Ohio. New job. Family & friends. Riding motorcycles with my brothers. Life is good. Then, it gets even better when I meet Alaina. You can read her take on that at mssinglemama.com. I know right away that she meets all the criteria on my three-item non-negotiables list: emotionally honest; passionate about life and living it; acquisitive (someone who loves to learn new things). And then some. She’s an absolutely incredible woman, and I’m obviously the luckiest guy in the world.
Fast forward to spring, 2012. Alaina and I knew we were going to get married. We also knew that we were in a unique position, financially: we could afford for one of us to work, and one of us to stay home. We’ve both worked our asses off and had a certain amount of good luck to get to that point. But there we were. Coincidentally, around that time, my employer and I reached a mutually amicable, mutually beneficial agreement, and I resigned. It was time to take advantage of our fortunate financial circumstances and keep one of us home with the kids.
Now, here we are. Coming up on Halloween, 2012 and I don’t have a job. We made a choice for me to stay home. And it’s been awesome– not without its trials, sure: no matter how clean the house is, it only stays that way for approximately 2.3 seconds; three kids all talking at once about three different things is enough to make me pull out what’s left of my hair; and getting them to their various sporting events makes me want that cloning machine from the movie Multiplicity. But being able to pick those gremlins up from school, give them a hug, and tell them how incredible they are every day is something I never thought I’d get to do.
So, no. I don’t have a job: I’m a stay at home dad. And it’s awesome.