If you didn't know, for a while when I was little, my dad was a stay at home dad. When my sister was born two months premature, my dad stayed home with us and my mom went back to work.
Being a stay at home dad in the 80s was not nearly as glamorous as it is today. There were no diaper bags for dads, or fancy baby carriers with slick manly colors, or even stay at home dad groups. There weren't really any other stay at home dads. Were there? As of yet, I have never met another person my age to have had one.
Here are some of my favorite memories of growing up at home with my dad and why I think having a stay at home dad is probably the coolest thing ever.
My dad always let me wear whatever I wanted. Most of the time I ran around our neighborhood with a bib tied around my waist and bowling shoes on...and that was all. I kid you not my friends. That was all.
One time, we were leaving the neighborhood, so I had to actually get dressed. I picked out a really thick, puffy sweatshirt with Care Bears dancing around a rainbow printed on it. It was so beautiful, I just had to wear it and after some pestering, my dad relented. It was July. We lived in a suburb just outside of Cocoa Beach, FL. Yes, yes, I was wearing the bowling shoes.
When my dad wasn't busy with all his dadliness, he was a grad student. This meant for many of our hours together, he was half watching me, half working on his Masters of Divinity. This also meant that there would be times when I thought he knew a magical language that allowed him to communicate with ordinary inanimate objects but, really he just zoned out while taking the trash out and was now standing on the side of the road practicing Hebrew while staring at dumpster... as I stood nearby and watched in awe.
After my sister was born, we spent a lot of time in the hospital visiting her and my mom. I was ok with it because the cafeteria had the best grilled cheese I have ever had in my life. I have spent many lunch hours trying grilled cheeses from various delis and grills in an attempt to recreate the melty goodness of that hospital's. That is, until my mom revealed to me that it probably only tasted that good because my dad had not been feeding me. My dad protests, but until I find a grilled cheese of equal deliciousness, he's guilty.
On that note, my dad and I kept an organic garden and I got to eat tomatoes right out of it without washing them. And oranges, because we had an orange tree, too. That was probably all I ate some days.
Here is a list of other things that I remember eating:
- construction paper
- chalk (my favorite)
- Elmer's paste (2nd favorite)
- rubber art erasers
We liked walking around our neighborhood looking for Beatrix Potter characters. My favorite was Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle... which is what I called one woman in our neighborhood... to her face. My dad was cool with it. Also, I ate her roses.
My dad often tried to bring me fishing. He did not want me growing up to be all prissy and girly. I needed to learn to do non- gender specific activities and get a little dirty. We got some cane poles and went down to our local pier. The first time we went, I caught a pufferfish and my dad yelled to me not to touch it so I wouldn't get hurt. Another time we went, I caught a sting ray and my dad yelled to me not to touch it so I wouldn't get hurt. I didn't like fishing much after that. So, we went to the beach. One time, a Portuguese man o' war washed up onto the beach and it was so pretty and pink and blue and shiny. I ran up to it to get a better look and it washed onto my foot. I was rushed to the emergency room... I have an intense fear of fish touching my feet. I wore aqua socks for years, but I've upgraded to Chaco's now that I'm an adult.
You know, all in all, my dad did a pretty good job. I think I had the coolest childhood out of all of my friends. I had so many awesome opportunities to explore and enjoy nature and my love for the outdoors and the earth has followed me throughout my life. My only concern is that I seriously cannot remember my sister being a part of any of these memories. Why is that? Dad?
Beware of holding your babies my friends. For thousands of years, mothers and fathers have been struggling with the grim reality that succumbing to their natural inclination to hold their babies would ultimately result in their precious infants' suffocation and death.
It is in these dark times that we exalt you, oh woman of Los Amigos, champion of babies, for rescuing these precious lives from the dangers of their fathers' shoulders. Thank you, dear lady, for not only noticing that my baby was at risk, but for heroically heralding the news to my husband and also all others who were waiting for their take out last night so that he may be made an example of and no other would tread the dangerous terrain of allowing their daughters to sleep on their shoulders for any extended period of time, not even ten minutes.
For we all have been made aware of the severe consequences of attempting to wear your baby in a dreadful and dangerous wrap, sling, or carrier and few dare to do so, but there are still those of us who are cavalier enough to actually hold our children in our arms.
It is true that modern advancements have lowered the risk of infant suffocation by presenting to us bucket car seats and pacifiers. Luckily for us, as you most noble Los Amigos woman pointed out, my husband had at least remembered to use the latter, which allowed our daughter to evade a certain death. As for bucket car seats, plagiocephaly is a small price to pay in exchange for your child's life.
Please do not risk it my friends, put your babies down. It's for their own good. Your child does not NEED to be held. It is selfish and dangerous to assume so.
Thank you, kind woman. I exalt you. My daughter owes you her life.
On a serious note, I sincerely apologize to anyone who may stumble upon this and is offended or hurt by the mention of infant suffocation. My heart truly aches for any person who has experienced such a loss.