Tuesday, October 13, 2009

The SAHD Gig Ain't for Everyone

I may have mentioned, but I think I'm a pretty good dad.

Specifically, I'm a good Stay-At-Home-Dad. If indeed the Stay-At-Home-Dad movement is really a movement and not just a bunch of guys too bored or lazy to work, then I definitely belong to it. Hell, I'm an advocate. I think all guys should be SAHDs. Unfortunately, I have discovered that the daddy life is not for everyone, and for some it's a downright bad idea.

This is the story of a bad stay-at-home dad. He's a good dad, but he'd be better off with a job and a good daycare. Sometime early last year, I met this guy and his young son. We'll call him Curtis. He lives in my neighborhood, and we "hooked up" through our wives who met one night while they were walking their respective infants through the hills of West Portland.

Sadly, this is a classic story of young romance and harsh breakup. I was excited to meet another dude whose situation was so similar to my own. But somehow there was no spark. We met a few times, took our kids for hikes, and met up at the library story hour. We even we went out for lunch. Not only did this SAHD "dating" make me feel like Harvey Milk with a 1-year-old, it just wasn't fun.

Curtis was a downer. He had a generally negative outlook on the world, and seemed unhappy with every aspect of raising his child. Eventually, our relationship devolved into a bi-monthly phone call and a halfhearted attempt to get together. Let's be honest here - I blew the guy off. He was genuinely looking for dad-friend, a buddy to hang with and ease his burden down the lonely road of childcare. I just couldn't be that guy.

The last several times we talked on the phone, we had the same conversation. I would say (in all honesty) "I'm pretty busy this week." Curtis would reply, (skeptically) "That's amazing." Then there would be this short pause, where we both considered what this might mean.

I feel bad for this guy. He didn't see his days ahead of him filled with adventure. The wonders of learning to walk, read books, climb stairs, and eat with a fork were lost on him. A few short years ago, I would have found these things just as dull. It makes me wonder - what is the difference between us?

My life with the boy isn't just baby talk and diaper changes. I don't stay at home, watching the clock. We go out EVERY DAY. While it is true that I don't cover as much ground as I used to, pre-baby, we still use every minute of our day to find some action, go out to lunch, or walk through the park. I figured out early, to make this thing work, you've got to have some get up and go in you.

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