Archive for September, 2009

Are You Off Today?

I wish I had a dollar for every time I have been asked that!  Just try and get a haircut on a weekday, during “working” hours and not have that question posed to you!  Then, reply that you are a stay at home dad and you’ll likely get a response of, “oh, that’s nice”!  Wouldn’t it be great to have one of those thought balloons over the stylist’s head to see what he or she is really thinking?

There are many misconceptions about being a stay at home dad (SAHD)…we’re lazy, like to sleep ’till noon, we watch SportsCenter all day, lack motivation and we are really don’t care if we do the job of being a full time dad well or not!  More about those later.

The number of SAHDs in the United States has nearly tripled in the past decade.  There are still far more stay at home moms than dads, but we’re gaining a little on them.  Many men have made the decision to stay at home with the kids either by economic necessity (especially this past year) or like myself, by choice.

Here’s my story…

Following the birth of our first child, my wife and I decided it was important for one of us to be home with him.  She had just received a promotion at work and we had relocated from Minnesota to Southern California for her job.  I was looking for work, without much success, so it was decided that I was the logical choice to stay home with our son and be the one to do deal with the dirty diapers!  Ahh…okay! It went well, but of course, it took some getting used to and there was quite an adjustment period.  A few years passed and we then added another son to our family.  I was still home, but now had TWO boys to take care of! A couple of years later and following a move back to the Twin Cities, we found out our second son had a serious speech problem.  He began speech therapy at Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis and I worked with him at home.  His appointment times and days often varied, so it was virtually impossible for me to work outside of the home, plus he needed someone to work with him at home, so being a SAHD continued.  Over the years, he has made tremendous progress with his speech and I am very glad my wife & I made the decision to work as a “team” and have her be the breadwinner and me stay home.  We have since added a beautiful daughter to our family, or as I refer to her as, daddy’s “job security”!  Then this past winter, I discovered a book about starting a blog and  publishing a webcomic and so, here I am!

Now about those misconceptions…

SAHDs are not lazy, we do not lack motivation and all of those other silly things!  We simply have a strong desire to help out our families, even if that means, giving up a traditional career and “running the household”!  My alarm goes off at 5:00 AM and most mornings I throw on a pair of running shoes and head out for a run (or in the winter, to the treadmill, it is Minnesota after all).  After I finish, I shower, get dressed and begin the process of getting the kids out of bed, fed and ready for school.  I should note, that a fair amount of coffee has been consumed by said, SAHD at this point!  After the kids are out the door, it’s time to clean the house, do some laundry, pay some bills, run some errands, mow the lawn, shovel the driveway, occassionally volunteer at one of the kid’s schools and lately, draw some cartoons.  The kids start arriving home before you know it and along with that comes, rides to be given, homework to be supervised, dinner to be made, dishes to be done, backpacks loaded for the next day and get the kids to bed!  Usually by then, it’s 10:00 PM, so there’s some time to read or watch a little TV and finally get some much needed sleep!

Oh yeah, we don’t get weekends off either!

But, seriously…

I do consider myself lucky to able to spend time with my kids on a daily basis, no matter how tiring it may be at times!  Being a SAHD is a great course in “time management” and you also learn some patience along the way!  It may not be the most physically demanding job, but, mentally, it can be challenging.  All SAHDs and SAHMs too, should remember the important role they play in the development of their children!

Okay, enough of the serious talk…

Let’s see if Dave can gain some of that confidence and respect in the coming weeks of the strip.  I have a hunch, he’ll hit a few “bumps” along the way!

Dad’s Taxi

Well, my kids have been back in school for two weeks now and “Dad’s Taxi Service” is back in business!  My oldest drives, while helpful, brings it own set of issues, but that’s for another day.  My two other children ride the school bus and both leave and return home at different times.  It’s called a “staggered” start by our school district, I call it, cutting into my free time!  Some days it seems like the last kid is just leaving when another is coming home!  Also, trying to keep straight who comes home when can be a challenge!

But here’s the twist this week, riding the bus was out for my two youngest kids since one had cross-country after school and the other was working as a “crossing guard” at her school in the morning and afternoon.  My little crossing guard required a ride to school in the morning and a 3:00 pick-up in the afternoon.  My cross-country runner was done at 5:00 and also needed a ride home, which was fine, but, on Monday, my oldest son had to work (there goes the option of him helping out), it was “Curriculum Night” at the Middle School, which went from 6:30 until 8:00, my “runner” had a Boy Scout meeting at 7:00, and to top it off, my wife, due to an appointment, couldn’t help me out!  Needless to say, I was doing doing a little “running” of my own!

That was the inspiration for today’s strip.  As hard as you try to stay “on schedule”, some days, it’s next to impossible!  My daughter started dance on Tuesday, at “dinner time” and of course she needed a ride to and from! My middle child began Confirmation at our church on Wednesday night, which started about an hour after cross-country.  I picked him up from “cc” at 5:00 and after we got home he had time for a shower and a quick bite to eat.  My daughter sings in the Children’s Choir at our church, which usually starts at the same time as Confirmation, but she had to be there early for tryouts for a musical, which meant they needed separate rides!

Someone could have a good laugh if I had a GPS tracking device on my van!  Lots of zigging and zagging!

My daughter had dance yesterday too, but of course, at a different time than on Tuesday and my runner had his first meet and you guessed it, at the same time!  And to top it off, my wife left for a business trip yesterday morning!  Ahhh!!!

… someone please pass the Advil!

I’m thinking about having our van painted an obnoxious shade of yellow and maybe earning some extra cash doing some airport pick-ups during my “free time”,  I believe I have the necessary experience!  Look for “Dave” to have some similiar experiences in the coming editions of the strip!

A Nice Quiet Weekend (Almost)

Following a pretty hectic week of adjusting to new schedules for my kids and lots of running around in “Dad’s Taxi”, I was really looking forward to a nice, quiet, uneventful weekend.

My last “official” SAHD duty for the week was Friday night at six o’clock, when I dropped off my youngest son for a weekend Boy Scout camping trip.  My oldest boy was suppose to go too, but he recently began a new job and was unable to get someone to cover his shift on Saturday.  He was scheduled to work from seven in the morning until three in the afternoon and then he said he would go to the scout campout, which was about an hour and twenty minute drive from our house.  “Sounds good,” I told him, “I’ll be happy to drive you when you get home from work!”

You guessed it…

“But, Dad, I’m a good driver AND I can drive myself!”

My son is sixteen and he has had his license since December.  By all accounts he is a good driver, no accidents, no speeding tickets and he knows the consequences of using a cell phone when he his driving.  He drives to and from school, to and from his job and also runs various errands in the area.  He has some experience driving on freeways and interstates.

I am comfortable riding with him when he is driving.


This wasn’t exactly a short trip, he would be by himself and it required interstate driving.  It also required driving about forty miles on one of the busiest and most accident prone stretches of interstate in Minnesota!  We had the usual back and forth about the wisdom of me letting him make the trip by himself, when I was more than willing to give up watching a little college football to ensure he arrived at camp safely.

It came down to my thirty one-plus years of driving experience versus his nine months.

Game, set and match, I’m making the drive!

We began our journey shortly before four o’clock, traffic was pretty heavy, as it usually is on this stretch of highway.  We passed an outlet mall where a few months ago, a driver of a car missed the exit for the mall and then decided it would be smarter to make an illegal “u-turn” rather than go to the next exit, about a mile down the road.  The driver made the illegal “u-turn”, but didn’t see an on-coming tanker truck, who tried to avoid hitting the car, flippped over and crashed.  Thankfully, no one was killed, but the interstate was closed in both directions for nine hours!  We also talked about how often we hear about accidents on this road on our local news.  It’s just a busy, dangerous, stretch of pavement!

We got to the camp a little after five, my son unloaded his gear, I chatted a few minutes with some of the adults, who were on the trip and then I left for home.  Well, guess what happened on the ride home…

I’m in the middle lane, going close to the speed limit, pretty heavy traffic, approaching the outskirts of the Twin Cities, and no, in case you were wondering, I didn’t stop at the outlet mall, when all of a sudden some big, black, “mat-looking” thing came flying at me from the left lane!  I had no time to react or any chance to avoid hitting it as there were cars on both sides of me.  Breaking wasn’t an option either, since it happened so fast and there were vehicles behind me.

So, BAM, I hit it!

It made a really loud noise when it hit the front of my car.  I then ran over it and could see the SUV behind me hit it.  I could see the SUV pull over and other cars trying avoid hitting it.  I thought about pulling over, but decided, any damage could wait until I got home to inspect and it appeared it hadn’t caused an accident.

After I got home, I immediately checked the car.  On the front bumper there were black tar marks from the rubber and a large crack all the way through it.   It was going to need to be repaired, something I wasn’t looking forward to adding to my “to do” list this week!

I’m still not sure what I hit, but my best guess is a liner from a pick-up truck that came lose and flew out.  It’s kind of a pain, but I am grateful it wasn’t something more dangerous that hit me or that it didn’t cause a big chain-reaction accident.

I am also very grateful I didn’t let my son make the trip by himself this weekend. If this would have happened to him, I’m not sure what his reaction would have been.  I know he will encounter similiar experiences when he his driving, but hopefully, it’s after he gains some more experience behind the wheel!

Single Parent

Well, at least for a few more hours!  My wife has been out of town the past two days on business and I have been holding things down on the homefront.  She gets home later tonight, okay, it’s twenty one hours and seventeen minutes, but who’s counting!?

Even though I’m used to her being gone from time to time, I will say it adds a “degree of difficulty” to the job of a being a SAHD.  I didn’t think it was possible, but our family schedule is even more hectic than usual this year.  As I have mentioned, our oldest child is working at various times throughout the week, our middle child is running cross-country five days a week and has Confirmation on Wednesday nights. Our daughter is in dance, but, joined a “competitive” program this fall.  She now has practice two nights per week,for a couple of hours, but they are scheduled around the dinner hour.  My sons are in Boy Scouts and my daughter is in Girl Scouts, just to add to the list of activities.  So yes, as much as I hate to admit it, on occasion, I do say, “yes, we would like fries with that”!

I’m still trying to work out the “kinks” in our schedule, trying to eat together and avoid fast food, trying to get them to activities on time (and to the correct places) and helping them with their homework.  I am positive we’ll work it out and things will run more smoothly!  But I will say, I’m looking forward to having some help in twenty one hours and seven minutes!