Monday, May 22, 2006

Birthday Blues

As my birthday rapidly approaches I am somewhat overcome with the reality of growing older. We will have reached retirement age shortly before she graduates from college. Most college grads, return home for a few years but I'm not really concerned about that. I'm more concerned with how much I'll still be able to do with her and will I still be admired by her or an embarrassment to her. When most people age they think of how they will look, their appearance. Will they still be attractive, or will they be a shriveled up prune. I'm more concerned with the energy or lack of it by the time she graduates. I know there's a strong possibility I may not be around by the time she marries, but if I am I would still like to dance with her (walker and all).

So I've took it upon myself to shed my excess pounds and build up my muscle tone. I'm trying to eat healthy and exercise every day so that I increase my energy level. Something that shouldn't be too difficult but now that my little one is about to faze out one of her naps it will give me a little less time for myself around the house. Now she's in a very clingy stage so I won't be able to leave her with anyone either so the challenge is exercising with her in the vicinity I know weights are out so calesthenics might be an option for starters.

Sunday, May 07, 2006

Birthday Party

My wife, Jan belongs to a mommies group here in Westchester County. They met at the hospital where they all had given birth. I don't remember the circumstances of how they all met but I know it was initially at the hospital. Once the meeting was over they had decided to keep in touch. They have continued to stay in touch and still meet once a week (except during holidays) alternating where they meet. Well, the children are all reaching their first birthdays. My own daughter, Courtney had hers just two months ago but she wasn't nearly the first.

So while we were at this birthday party, I looked around and realized that nearly every father in the room worked never even taking paternity leave (which is their right under Federal Law). I was the only dad that stayed at home. I have taken on some occasional part time work but generally I'm a full-time daddy. I really hadn't clicked with any of the husbands in the group, but what was worse so of the mom's had been making jokes at my expense. Shouldn't you be carrying a purse? Are you driving a minivan yet?

At first I was a little hurt but quickly realized they weren't teasing but envious and here's why:
  • Their worried I may be a better parent than them.
  • Their husbands might not be so comfortable with me hanging around and paying attention to them and will give them a hard time.
  • They don't need to be reminded how 'hands off' their husbands are with the caregiving.
Okay, so you think its a far stretch? Could be, but maybe not.

In the meantime, I'll continue with the cooking, cleaning, laundry, mowing the lawn fixing the drippy faucet. I'm not just the caregiver, but I still function as the man of the house as well. And thankfully my wife still acts as the woman of the household when she comes home from work.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

How Did I Get Here?

Life is strange. Not short, not long, but strange. People always tell you what life's all about but when it comes right down to it, it's just their opinion. As Curly pointed out in the classic guy gone nuts movie City Slickers life's about just one thing. (In case you can't tell I'm holding up my finger too.) It's usually what drives us and what motivates us to a single goal whether it be some materialistic item or an ethereal concept. If someone were to ask me what my goals were seven years ago they'd hardly be what they turned out to be today.

Seven years ago I was in a stable, but low-paid, dead end job. Unmarried and without children I worked in InfoTechnologies. Not in PC technologies or even the internet. I worked on what was once called Big Blue by IBM and what most know as mainframe Technologies. I was excellent at my job at first, but as the years went by and I found myself being stepped on and stepped over. I finally realized that there were people less professional and worse at their jobs that were finding themselves in better positions at the company. Well, it was actually a college not a company, but not for long. Eventually, the entire IT department was privatized. There were three options for us, take the severance package and leave, two, the college would find placement for us somewhere else (I didn't relish the thought of someone getting laid off because I had more seniority), three, the outsourcing firm might hire us. It turned out that the third option was the best for me. And so began my transition from a stable work environment to one that was both diverse and dynamic. Talk about a life altering change. I transitioned to PC work and when the time was right, I took a position that was far away from my old environment.

In the following months, I worked for a hospital and familiarized myself with networks and servers. Once I heard that company was going bankrupt, I found work at another, and then another until I finally ran out of options. After all the Y2K scare was over and everyone's systems had all the necessary patches in place. I was out of a job. Having no other place to go I found myself with the real reality of unemployment. Alone and in a city I knew little about, I received a call from my father one Saturday morning. He had to be rushed to the hospital for an intestinal blockage. Anyone who's been following Survivor: Panama knows exactly how painful and dangerous it can be.

I rushed to be by his side. He did recover but I never really did. My mother had passed just a few years earlier and I hadn't even considered that I'd have to go through that again so soon. It was so clear to me what to do. After he was released from the hospital, I sold most of my belongings and moved back home to take care of him. I always was a good cook and a little on the OCD side. This had been one heck of a change to my life. One year later I would have another major change to my life.

About four months, after I moved in with my dad. I started dating Jan, who would eventually change my life forever. I fell madly in love with her only after a few months of dating (most online relationships progress quickly) and by the end of the fall we were married. I moved into her place, sold my own (at a loss) and hardly ever looked back.

I still had a very real problem though. In my haste to switch jobs I neglected to save some very important contacts and personal references and every attempt I made to contact someone at the old company was met with they don't work there any more or else had no idea what company I was referring to. I had accepted some temporary jobs but they just didn't last. But money was money.

In the following August we got a big surprise, or small depending on how you want to look at it. We were going to have a baby. We didn't know if the baby was male or female but we took all the steps necessary to insure the child would be healthy. And on March 18th she proved that she was healthy. She screamed bloody murder being pulled from her mamma's womb and once the attending doctor said "we have a feisty one here," we knew immediately what her name was. So on that Friday evening and after several hours of monitoring her, Courtney, all 9lbs 11ozs were placed into her mother's arms.

Fortunately, because Jan's a school teacher, she gets to be home with her during the summer and we barely qualified for the short term disability coverage so mom and daughter would get extra time together. I managed to find some work during that time but it wasn't quite enough to cover daycare costs. So at the end of the summer I left my job and that's how I became a Stay At Home Dad.

Sure sometimes I think about what I was doing several years ago, the projects I worked on and paperwork I juggled. I still work on projects (their focused on the home) and the paperwork tends to be related to our finances, but its still much the same. Time and Micro Management skills are a must and you have to be able to hit the ground running. I'm June Cleaver with a crew cut and damn proud of it, because I have the best job in the world. Someday when Courtney is asked in class what her father does she will stand and proudly say "My Daddy Stays At Home"