I’d like you to meet Eric, also known as Stomperdad. I’ve been following Eric’s blog since I started in WordPress. His blog is fun and has a great variety of content, and my favorite posts are the ones he shares his parenting adventures. But today, Eric shares with us a beautiful story about his choice of becoming a stay-at-home-dad.
Eric, thank you so much for sharing your story with Mirror & Soul!
The Many Hats
My drawer is full of hats. I wear many. I love my Orioles hat that’s sweat stained and sun faded. It has seen many baseball seasons come and go. It has seen winning streaks and slumps. It has seen homeruns and strike outs. It’s my go to hat when I need a hat to wear. You see, I’m as bald as a newborn baby’s bum and need a hat to keep from getting sunburned or frozen.
But it’s not my favorite hat. Other hats I wear are irreplaceable. They’re impossible to remove. The first hat I ever wore was that of a son. After that I put on the hat of brother. Eventually, I added husband, son-in-law, brother-in-law, uncle, teacher, and coach.
However, my favorite hat to wear is that of Dad. Since donning it nine years ago, it too has become sweat stained and sun faded. It has seen winning streaks and tough spots. It has seen homeruns and strike outs and time outs.
I work as a substitute teacher, so I’m not always working. It’s certainly not your normal 9-5 job. This led to me being home with a toddler most days while my wife went to work. I became a stay home dad. I could have worked. I could have tried harder to get subbing days. To be honest, though, I didn’t want to. I loved staying home.
We developed a morning routine. Not that the kids followed it or anything, but we had one. I’d get them fed, I’d make sure their teeth were brushed, their lunches packed. I’d get them dressed – one for school and one for the day. I didn’t mind packing my wife’s lunch while I was at it.
After my wife and our oldest left for school a normal day consisted of tidying the house, toddler helping slightly. We’d break to play trains, trucks, matchbox cars, or all of the above. We’d spend hours outside in the yard or we’d venture into the woods for a hike.
The best days were Tuesdays and Thursdays. Tuesdays here are garbage days and there isn’t much that little boys like more than big trucks. We used to be on a first name basis with the garbage men. They would look for our son as they approached our house. They’d blow the horn and on occasion would allow him to pull the lever on the side of the truck to smash the trash. Garbage day also meant cooking class day.
It was a class for toddlers and it was a chance for them to prepare their own food. We’d make grilled cheese sandwiches, peanut butter apple wraps, pancakes, and chicken nuggets. The kids would cut their own chicken, roll it in bread crumbs and put them on cookie sheets to be baked by adults. While the kids loved the cooking, the best part was that the dads outnumbered the moms. That’s right, more dads than moms at a cooking class with their kids. The irony was not lost on me.
The other best day of the week was Thursdays – playgroup day. This was a day both our sons looked forward to and now that they’re in school full time, miss. It was two hours of play with children their own age. Some of the friends they made in playgroup then went on to be in their class at school, too. Playgroup, like cooking class, saw its share of dads. Whether we were looking for socialization time for our kids or ourselves, this was the place for both.
Being a stay home dad awarded me the opportunity to watch our kids grow. The teacher in me loved to see them learn and explore. I would have missed out on this had I been a full time teacher. However, being the stay home dad also saw me become a disciplinarian. I issued my share of timeouts. I separated more than one sibling battle. I rationed out my daily dose of consequences. So it hasn’t been all fun and games and cooking and playing. Would I trade my hat in? Never. It’s not about how many World Series we win. It’s not about how many millions we’re worth. It’s not even about how many people are in the stands.
It’s about who’s on our team. It’s about playing the game with love, determination, fairness, and consistency. They will push us, test us, and work us until our hats are sweat stained and sun faded and that’s how we’ll know our job has been worth every moment.
I’m Eric (but mostly go by Stomperdad here in the blogging world). On my blog you’ll find my joys and frustrations of being a dad to two wild, fun, and wildly fun boys Crash and Bang.
You might also find some short stories from time to time.
You’ll also find a good laugh! Laugh with me or laugh at me so long as you’re laughing!