With a pair of beautiful princesses fluttering about the royal palace, one would think me a King. In reality, my situation at home is such that I’m far closer to a lady-in-waiting; serving as the cook, cleaner, and caretaker of two daughters, both under 9-years-old. The rewards of my stay-at-home dad arrangement are worth more than all of the kingdom’s gold, but the headaches, well they can be dragon-sized. Thankfully, the breadwinning queen understands that being an actively engaged papa is a full-time job in and of itself, even without a single W-2 and not a lick of 1099 income to show for it. Therefore, I enjoy nearly free-reign to leave the castle grounds for a variety of fun trips alone and with friends. Your pity for me, should any remain, is about to vanish completely: within the past 18 months, I’ve jetted away six times including one long weekend in L.A. for the 2011 Grammy Awards and three separate weekends in Florida fishing with my oldest brother.
The prospect of 48 hours without a dishtowel on my shoulder and Playmobil people at my feet is more thrilling than seeing Mila Kunis in her undies, but the thought of returning home to a sink full of crusty dishes, mounds upon mounds of laundry (how do so many clothes get dirty so fast?), and a variety of tiny toys scattered from room to room is akin to the coldest of showers. I’ll admit that mine probably isn’t the usual mindset of a dude who gets to escape regular life with the boys, but my regular life isn’t exactly regular. Not yet anyhow. You see, being both the devoted stay-at-home dad and live-in maid means having good times tempered with copious amount of anxiety about the workload awaiting me once my grand adventures come to an end.
Whether my out-of-town fun involves spring training baseball, tarpon fishing in the Gulf of Mexico or watching Lady Gaga emerge from a giant egg, I’m always thinking about my family, and, believe it or not, not exclusively about the messes they’re making. Still, I’ve got to keep the phone calls and texts to a minimum, because I don’t want to be THAT GUY checking in with his lady and his kids every 30 minutes. THAT GUY is unbearable! And with my sizeable gut and odd-to-them taste in music and movies, my buddies and my brothers already have enough ammunition for unmerciful teasing; I don’t need to load their guns for them. But at the same time, I know my young girls miss me terribly when I’m traveling out of town so I always make it a point to email them silly photos of me, and of the stuffed animals they sneak into my luggage, posing on airplanes and at iconic spots like the Santa Monica Pier.
Yep, I’m that happy but tired guy in the airport with the teddy bear, cell phone camera, and goofy smile. It’ll take way more than bags under my eyes and taunts from my friends to prevent me from making my kids laugh 3000 miles away, because even when there’s a big time difference separating me from my kids, I’m still their stay-at-home dad.
—Photo credit: Tobyotter/Flickr