Myth of the Stay at Home Dad
September 24th 2011 00:29
Let me first apologize for not posting on here in a while. I have not been in the best emotional place for the past month and was taking a break from many things to get my head in a better place. Thank you for sticking with me.
Onto the Myth of the Stay at Home Dad.
If you are a stay at home dad, odds are that you have occasionally looked at a stay at home dad blog or website. God knows I have. I am even registered on sites like athomedad.org. What do you constantly see on these sites? All of these Dad’s are happy. So so so incredibly happy and fulfilled in their lives as stay at home dads. I am not doubting that many of these men are happy with their lives. I just haven’t met any of them personally.
Here is what I believe to be the Myth of the Stay at Home Dad: They are all happy and fulfilled in their new lives. That’s it. I find it harder and harder to believe that many stay at home dad’s are fulfilled in their lives. Where do we go for for help and advice though? We don’t. Turn to many of these sites and blogs and they are all happy and lovey and out going. Not helpful for a stay at home dad that is dealing with depression.
I am clearly one of the less happy and fulfilled dad’s out there. First off, I love my daughter, I have always wanted to be a dad and always new I’d have a daughter. She is my dream come true. I cherish my time with her everyday. I know I will never have this type of time with her ever again and am doing my very best to take advantage of it. That doesn’t mean that I am happy with the situation though.
I have enough therapists and counselors in my family to know that I am clinically depressed. Why is this? First off, I have been unemployed since June. More over, I planned on starting my career as an attorney 2 years ago, and have yet had the opportunity to get that going. That’s two years that my friends I went to school with have put in to their careers while my career has been on hold.
So I am unemployed, even when I was unemployed though I was not the bread winner in our family. I was doing Marketing work and only contacted for 30 hours a week. My wife, clearly is the money maker in our family. I don’t have a problem with my wife earning more than me. That honestly doesn’t bother me. It bother’s the living hell out of my wife though. She doesn’t want to work. She essentially wants us to swap roles. She wants to be the stay at home parent and she wants me out working. She works an hour away to get to her job. She gets 2 maybe 3 hours with her daughter a night. By the weekend she is so burned out by work she has to fake being in a good mood just to be able to not be upest while she spends the whole weekend with our daughter. She is clearly not happy. I don’t blame her. She doesn’t feel like a mother any more.
I don’t blame her. I spend a majority of the time with our daughter, taking her swimming, to the zoo, to the museum. All things my wife has had to miss out on the opportunity to do. I cook breakfast and dinner for everybody, take care of lunch of my daughter. Clean the house every day, do our laundry, our grocery shopping, yard work. I have always done most of this. But this leads to my wife feeling like our house isn’t her home but that it is just a place to sleep until she has to go to work. I would be fine with letting her do any of this, I feel so aweful any time she has to do any chores, or clean and take time away from being with our daughter.
I don’t get any satisfaction from doing any of the chores or house cleaning or yard work. I love cooking and did all of it before I became the stay at home dad. But it’s not satisfying and no matter what I do, I can’t make it satisfying. It’s not, it’s something that needs to get done, so I do it. No questions asked.
I should be the bread winner in the family. While I was employed for a year, I still consider myself unemployed for 2 years. I rightly or wrongly derive a lot of my worth by being able to provide for my family. Right now, I don’t feel like I provide anything to our family. Push comes to shove, my wife would work, take care of our daughter, cook, and clean. We both know this, while she might not acknowledge it. More over I know it.
I’m also unhappy because I have less and less time with my wife and with my friends. I would love to hang out with my friends on a weekend. I would love to be able to go on a date with my wife. We can’t. We don’t have the money. Even when we do have extra money. I do everything I can to not spend a dime of it. My wife earns it and I want her to be able to spend it. To go see her friends, to be able to buy something for herself. So my friends are pushed away because I don’t want to “waste” the money to hang out with them.
So here’s where we come back to the myth. I know other Stay at Home Dads. None of them are happy or fulfilled. Don’t get me wrong, they love staying time with their kids. They know they won’t get that time back. But they crave more, they want more. They are often depressed and yet we have to see all of these other happy dads. Who is there for us, who’s advice are we to look towards who aren’t happy, who we can relate too?
Fuck if I know. All I can tell you though is that I’m not going to pretend to be happy for this blog. The issues I have are going to come out. Take from this though, that odds are if you are depressed and a stay at home dad, you aren’t the only one. My best advice, Hug your wife and kids more, embrace your wife more, kiss her more.
Ever have this experience; you are watching an action show, all of a sudden a child jumps into the scene and bam, gets shot. Or watching your favorite Detective show only to have that show center around child abuse. Happens all of the time in some shows. I watched a lot of those shows where this thing routinely happened. With my legal background I would get immersed in detective and law shows.
22 months ago that all changed. That’s when my daughter was born and that’s when things began to change. In retrospect my change in media intake shouldn’t have been a suprise. I grew up probably being closer to my dog than any friend or family member and couldn’t handle it when something bad happened to animals. Remember the movie My Dog Skip, was in a room of guys and we were all crying by the end of it. Just couldn’t handle bad things with animals. Heck even the scene in the Green Mile where the little mouse was killed brought a tear to my eye.
A month or two after my daughter was born turned on one of my wife’s and I’s favorite tv series and within the first five minutes children were being attacked and put into coma’s and slowly dying, and that was as far into the show as we got into that episode. I was done. I couldn’t deal with seeing these kids that way. I know that it is just a show, but I feel like with being a dad and being around my daughter as much as I am and was that there was a lot of transference going on there.
Even now with my daughter almost being 2 years old my views haven’t changed. If there is a movie coming out that I think might show hamr to a child I won’t bother see it. I’ll skip episodes of my shows that I usually enjoy if there is the chance that a child might be hurt.
I think a large part of me feeling like this is the fact that I can’t even fathom what I would d if something ever happened to my daughter. The’s been the center of my life for 2 years. And from what my parents tell me, I became the most responcilbe person in my family by age 5, and started training to be a dad shortly after that. I’m not naive, I know she will get hurt and stuff happens. Heck right now she probably hurts herself atleast once a day. But, I still can’t think about something tragically happening to her. I feel like most parents are in this same boat. We always think that our kids are going to be healthy and stay ok. It’s these shows that show children getting hurt that force us to confront this preconcieved notion that we have that our children will always be ok. It’s uncomfortable and at times scary to really think about those situations.
I know avoiding those shows or movies might be taking things a bit to an extreme, but at the same time, those are powerful thoughts to try to confront, especially when, like I said, my daughter is the center of my life.
What I have realized since I became a stay at home dad is that I have no adult social life anymore. After I graduated from grad school in 2010, most of my friends that I graduated with left Toledo. When I left my job, with it went most of the adult friends that I had. I am quick to point out, my wife is one of my best friends and my other best friend, Nick, I talk to daily, but lives in Arizona. From there though, there are fewer and fewer adults that I get to socialize with on a daily basis.
At first, I didn’t even notice that lack of adult interaction. I was usually tired by the time my wife got home from entertaining my daughter, cleaning the house, cooking dinner, that often I just wanted to spend my evening with my wife. It wasn’t until she started meeting up with friends on a week to week basis that I finally said, wtf! Not wtf, why are yoi going out all the time, but wtf, how come I’m not going out and meeting with other adults.
I realized that I’m in an aweful position to meet adults though. I go from walks, to the museum, to the pool, to the zoo, to the library, to my house, all with my 22 month old daughter in tow. I generally focus 100% of my energy and focus on her. The situations are not the most conducive to meeting new people or adults. Cest la Vie.
As a stay at home dad or stay at home parent what do you do to get adult interaction? I have recently started a stay at home dad group, but am still in the process of getting that on the floor. I am friends with my neighbors, but not yet to the point where we go out golfing in the morning or something like that.
It’s definantly a work in process, but its something that I realized I should probably take a little more of a vested interest in this and find some adult friends, that or maybe I’ll be saying good bye to my sanity!
As long as I can remember I have suffered from Migraine Headaches, Sinus Headaches, and on occasion Cluster headaches. By suffer I mean, there were years where I would average 2-3 headaches a week, and 4 or 5 debilitating headaches a month. By debilitating, I mean I could not do anything. I couldn’t be in light, around loud noise, in warm places, walk, or read. I literally had to lay down in a dark room with an ice pack and pray that the cocktail of pills I took put a dent in the headache or that I would fall asleep. I would wake up with headaches. Want a wonderful day, try waking up with a throbbing pain behind your eye that, as the day wears on, turns into a full blown migraine. Not a wonderful situation.
I have been on a variety of different medications, from over the counter to prescription to holistic. Each seemed to work with various success. For my migraines, the quickest solution was often Imitrex, but the nausea that I would get would be just as bad as the migraine. I had my favorite pill cocktail which was 2 extra strength tylonol, 2 Excedrin migraine, 2 Excedrin Sinus, and while it was still available, 2 Dryxoral. I even would get cold stone massage treatments and acupuncture. Like I said all of these would work to some degree, but most of the time, I just had to suck it up and deal with them. My doctors often just wanted to prescribe more pills. After a while though, you just give up on pills. I mean, after a while the pills lose their effect and you start to worry about the way the pills hit your liver and kidneys.
Resigned to the fact that I would just have to deal with the headaches, I eventually just stopped with the pills altogether. If I got a headache, I’d muscle through it until I could go to bed. With being a stay at home dad or being part time employed and a part time at home dad, that wasn’t always the best situation for my sanity, but I stayed with it.
Well, 57 days ago I started P90X, partly on a whim, partly because I wanted to get into better shape for my wife and daughter. I was going to go all in. The week before I started I gave up soda. The week before on a family vacation I drank my way through 7 2 litres of coke in 7 days. When we got home, we didn’t have any pop in the house and I went through just horrible caffeine withdrawal. So I just quit. Back to P90X, I didn’t just get the DVD’s and start going through them one by one. I got their excel sheet that has the scheduled work outs, the charts, the measurement page, and the meal plan. Yes there is more to the work out then just working out. I got on the meal plan as well.
The meal plan is 3 parts. the first thirty days is geared at muscle-building, fat shredding, as quickly as possible. The next phase is about muscle-building, the third phase is about maintaining a healthy eating lifestyle. At least that’s my take on it. The first phase though is tough. You start off by eating a lot. I had to up my calorie intake to 3200 calories a day, 1400 of which ended up being protein. I was allowed 100 calories of carbs, 100 calories of fruit, 100 calories of dairy, and the rest was primarily vegetables. I stuck with the meal plan.
26 days into P90X, I noticed something. I had only had 3 headaches. Less than one headache a week. This was a major drop off in headaches for me. I had gone several years of 2-3 a week. What had changed though? Well two things changed. First I was working out every day. In general I get stressed out, all of the time. Working out though eased that stress and I think that cut down on my headaches. Secondly, the meal plan. The meal plan had a large impact on my health and headaches. First off, I knew there were some foods that could cause headaches. I never paid much attention to it though. I started looking into foods though that could trigger headaches and found quite the list.
- Peanuts, peanut butter, other nuts and seeds
- Potato chip products
- Chicken livers and other organ meats
- Smoked or dried fish
- Sourdough bread, fresh baked yeast goods (donuts, cakes, homemade breads, and rolls)
- Bread, crackers, and desserts containing cheese
- Certain fresh fruits including ripe bananas, citrus fruits, papaya, red plums, raspberries, kiwi, pineapple
- Dried fruits (figs, raisins, dates)
- Soups made from meat extracts or bouillon (not homemade broth)
- Cultured dairy products, sour cream, buttermilk, yogurt
- Caffeine found in chocolate and cocoa; beverages such as coffee, tea and colas; also found in certain medications
- Aspartame and other artificial sweetener
The following types of cheeses have been reported to be high in tyramine:
- Blue cheeses
- Processed cheese
Other foods high in tyramine are: aged, canned, cured or processed meats, certain beans (fava, broad, garbanzo, lima, pinto), onions, olives, pickles, avocados, raisins, canned soups, and nuts.
What Food Products Contain Additives?
- Hot dogs
- Luncheon meats and deli-style meats
- Other cured or processed meats
- Some heart medications
- MSG (monosodium glutamate). MSG is a food additive/flavor enhancer found in soy sauce, meat tenderizer, Asian foods, and a variety of packaged foods.
I went through this list and noticed something. I wasn’t eating a majority of this food any more. I love cheese. I would sit and just eat a brick of Cheddar cheese. That would be a snack for me. Well Cheese was essentially cut out of my diet. With that went a huge migraine trigger. I cut out a large amount of processed foods, I was eating more vegetables, more eggs, less processed meat. With that though my headaches largely went away. The 3 headaches that I did get though were stress related. They all started or took place around some trying times in my life.
All in all though, if throughout the rest of P90X workout program I continue to not get headaches, it will be even more and more motivation to continue to stay working out as well as be healthy. As much as I love sugar, and sweets, and candy, oh god do I love candy, I love being free of the tyranny of headaches even more. To me it seems easier and healthier to live slightly healthier than to keep popping pills and hoping for the best.
When it comes to chores around the house, I generally consider myself a jack of all trades. Need dry wall put up? No problem. Need to take down a light fixture and put in a ceiling fan? Sweet, I’m in. Tree need cut down? Name me a time and place. I’m rather handy. What I don’t know what to fix, I’m atleast experienced enough to be able to figure it out. I quickly realized while starting my journey being a stay at home dad that there are certain things that I was wholly unprepaired for! Crayons and Poop!
First off I love crayons. I will sit with my daughter and color with crayons for hours on end. We can’t go through paper quick enough. My daughter will color all day long. My wife and I both encourage her. I have a background in art and graphic design and got a lot of pleasure from creating art work. What I was not prepared for was when I looked at the wall next to our bookshelve in the playroom and noticed my daughter thought the wall was paper. Fine, most kids color on the wall. I’ve heard story after story after story. So, cleaning it became my priority. Not thinking, I grab a spunge and started scrubbing, and scrubbing, and scrubbing. You know what I got, a reb blob. Not what I expected.
I’m smarter than some stupid crayons, I thought! Apparently I wasn’t. Grabbed my sponge and some soap and scrubbed harder. Now I had a red and grey spot and successfully rubbed off more pain then crayon! In short, I found out my wife had several different techniques for cleaning crayons, while I apparently found out how to remove everything from a wall but crayon.
For those dads not in the know here are two techniques to spare your wall.
1. Take a hair dryer and use it to melt the crayon. This will help it to losen and come off more easily from the wall. Once its melting, take just take soap and water to the wall and it should come right off.
If this doesn’t get it off all of the way, or if you did what I did and made a red blob, go
2. Get yourself a magic eraser. They are called magic for a reason!
On to poop. I’ve delt with baby poop for a while. With it on clothes, on my baby, inadvertently on me. Well in the process of pottey training my daughter she has had a couple accidents. By accidents I mean sprayed poop on the carpet. I was completely not prepared for this. (My wife is a saint by the way, she has been pooped on or puked on more times than I can count, while I can count on one hand how many times either of those has happened to me).
Not wanting my daughter to be ambarrassed or me to have my wife come home to poop carpet, I tried to get it cleaned up. Boy did I try. Nothing was getting the stain up. I tried resolve, I tried other carpet cleaner. Nothing. I then thought, Hydrogen Peroxide, gets blood out of clothes, wonder what it will do to a carpet.
So I cleaned up all of the solid waste, got it out of there. I then dabbed up any other excess waste I could get. I then took a little peroxide and put it on the carpet in the corner to see if it would bleach the carpet. It didn’t. I then put a capfull on the poop stain and gently rubbed it in. With a little bit of rubbing, the Hydrogen Peroxide did wonders! (TEST YOUR CARPET FIRST! I DON”T NEED YOUR WIFE BLAMING ME FOR BLEACHING YOUR CARPET)
I know I can’t be the only person to realize this, but Mom’s have an awesome sense about them. They seem to inherently know what to do to fix the problem, stain, etc. It’s a skill I’m hoping is learnable!
Off to potty training!
Ever wonder what goes into some of your food? One ingredient in a lot of food is Cellulose, i.e. Wood Pulp. Let me repeat that Wood Pulp! There is wood pulp in food. Below is a link to a page that lists some of the common foods that contain cellulose as well as some of the issues that are associated with it. Manufacturers use cellulose in food as an extender, providing structure and reducing breakage. Cellulose fibers are used in a variety of processed foods and meats meant for human and pet consumption, as well as for plastics, cleaning detergents, welding electrodes, pet litter, automotive brake pads, glue and reinforcing compounds, construction materials, roof coating, asphalt and even emulsion paints, among many other products. I don’t like the idea my food is essentially sharing way too much in common with brake pads, pet little, and asphlat. According to http://www.elmhurst.edu/~chm/vchembook/547cellulose.html from Elmhurst College, people cannot process Cellulose. Some animals can, but it is because of bacteria in their stomach, we are not so lucky.
Cellulose is filler that we can not process and in fact can be unhealthy. More importantly, people who think they are eating healthy food, may simply just be eating more wood pulp. I love fastfood. I like it a lot less now. I like the idea of eating more natural food and really on a personal level don’t like the idea that I am eating saw dust. This may not make that big of an impact on my overall nutrition, but it will make me pause the next time I want to buy some type of processed food.
This is just food for thought.
Motivation. Staying motivated has been a pain in the ass. First off, my wife is a wonderful source of support, but, she can’t work out for me. In the end it comes down to me. Want to know what the single biggest motivator was for me? Photos. I took a bunch of pictures of myself the first day I started the workout. I was not an impressive specimen. I was rather doughy to put it nicely. 9 days later my wife took a second set of pictures. I started scrolling through them, nothing was to impressive, until the last picture. It was a picture of my back as I was flexing. I refuesd to believe that was me. My back looked completely changed in 8 days. You could see muscle, it was getting tone. I had muscles forming that I didn’t even know existed in my back.
Of everything I have read, been told, seen, on and on, that picture has been a huge motivator. The first two times I got my picture taken I couldn’t have been any more uncomfortable. I was embareced to flex, infront of my own wife. We took my third set of pictures today, I couldn’t have been more excited. I want to see the changes now. There wasn’t anything nearly as dramatic as with that first set of pictures, but you start to notice little things changing. My posture was better, my “man boobs” were slightly smaller, my face looked a bit thinner, my arms looked a little more defined. It’s encouragement. The way that I look at it is, over 90 days, these little improvements will eventually add up to dramatic changes.
If you want any information on P90X or other workouts you can do at home, go to this place for more information. My wife loves turbo fire, its upbeat, there are a lot of dancing moves. There’s a workout for you. Plus there are built in support systems through the website, that can really help keep you motivated. Really Long Link
I am a “coach” under beachbody, go to my page, go to someone other’s, just go to the main beachbody site, that’s fine. I won’t force anything down your throat about beachbody. I hate seeing beachbody or beachbody coach posts all over the place. I am a coach though to better take advantage of the support opportunities as well as the product discounts. Those two things make it worth it for me.
There have been some amazing side effects that have come with the work outs. First I am doing the P90X meal plan and drinking Shakeology. I’m on phase III of the meal plan, it is the fat burning/muscle building phase. Under my braekdown I am supposed to eat 3100 calories a day. 1100 protein, 500 vegitables, and the rest broken down between fruit, oil, carbs, etc. First off, the meal plan is aweful, I love carbs, love it, my family is Italian, I grew up on pasta and pizza! I’m allowed 100 calories of carbs a day, i.e. one english muffin or one all wheat bagel. In addition to the meal plan, I gave up caffeine. I was drinking a twelve pack of coke every two days. I thought I was over doing it with the caffeine, so I stopped drinking it and had the worst withdrawl headache. That was it, I then cut out caffeine. So meal plan, working out, and no more caffeine.
Here is my main side effect. I suffer dibilitating migraines and sinus headaches. For the past 10 years, I probably averaged 2 or 3 debilitating migraines a month and probably a headache a week. . In the past 23 days, I have had one headache, One that I gave myself for being stressed out about the bar exam. My headaches are gone though, including my sinus headaches. The weather and stress is just not affecting me like it was. In addition, I have learned that a lot of the food that I love could trigger my headaches, such as caffeine and yellow cheese, as well as food with excessive nitrates. With eating more healthy food and eliminating processed food with excesive nitrates I have cut down those headaches. Those alone make the diet change worth it. In addition, my energy is up, I’m more regular, and feel healthier. Regardless of whether or not I did the work out, I think the change in my diet alone would have eventually shown results. I was extremely unhealthy. The shakeology Shake alone gives me more vitamins and probiotics in one day than I used to eat over a span of 2 weeks.
I am not going to lie though, I am looking forward to phase II of the meal plan. I get to double my carbs!
Here is my main advice if you are going to start a work out or diet: First record what you are doing daily, from your food to your work out. Second, if you decide to do a work out video, you don’t have to keep up with them, do what works for you, you can increase the reps or weight as you progress. If you can’t keep up, don’t get discouraged. Record what you did and aim to improve on it the next work out, or the next meal.
That’s about it!