Today is a tough day for me. This whole week has been.
About a year and a half ago, my wife made the decision to end her maternity leave early and go back to work. And not just to go back to the job she had prior to getting pregnant, no, to an entirely new job, career, dreams and goals.
This left a major decision to be made. Would I continue with my career and be forced to hire a full time (potentially live in) nanny? Or would I shut everything down, end my contracts, etc. and become a stay-at-home Dad?
Well, you know which one I picked. It wasn’t hard to figure out that hiring a full-time nanny for three kids under the age of 2 was going to cost $40,000. So, one of us would need to earn a wage enough for us to survive on, and the other would have to earn $40K (NET) to pay for the nanny. This just didn’t make sense. Go and work so you can afford to pay someone else to raise your kids.
It’s been a tough journey for me, filled with a lot of anger, jealousy, bitterness, resentment and probably a few more things. Everybody has told me I would never regret it. My friends have been so supportive telling me what a great decision I had made; telling me that “down the road” I would look back and be happy with the choice. Well, that’s great! But, what about right now?
I have tried to dive into being a stay-at-home Dad with everything I’ve got, but it’s been impossible. I find myself distracted every day. My #1 passion is still not my kids. It’s concerts. It’s live events. With each passing day, I’m intentionally starving that passion in attempts to kill it, while feeding the excitement I have in being a Dad. But, I’m not sure if it’s working.
Then I also had one really special and extremely meaningful side contract that I cherished. I was a lead college instructor at the Centre for Arts and Technology. I was loved by all. I had personally taught over 100 students in the past 5 years – most of whom are now incredibly successful and remain in touch with me to this day. I never dreamt that I would find myself in a teaching role like that. I never applied for the job. I still remember being flagged down on the street by the Events & Promotions Program Manager and offered the job. Six months later, after receiving two consecutive 100% review ratings from my students, I was offered the promotion into Lead Instructor of the program. I was so proud. Until I had to give it up last year. I held onto one, 3-hour class – the concerts and live entertainment class – just so I wouldn’t have to officially quit; but everything else came crashing down around me.
This week and today specifically, is the first time in five years that I won’t be going to college to teach. The school just took in a brand-new group of students in my program – the Event & Promotions Management program – and I won’t be there. I got an email today from one of the new students, because the new teacher obviously hadn’t edited or updated the course documents and my contact information was still attached. I started crying. How do you explain that to a 4-year-old who you’re trying to play cars with?
Being a stay-at-home Dad has been tough. I’ve broken a lot of stereotypes. I’ve received a lot of ignorant comments. Strangers pat me on the back and tell me how nice it is to see a man babysitting the kids, giving MOM a break. There are no freaking change tables in 90% of men’s public washrooms. And the lack of sleep is second to none. But all of that has been easier than letting go of a career I was passionate about.
That’s the reason I started this Dale Allen Berg brand. Unquestionably, the best person I met this year was Casey Palmer – Dad extraordinaire. Now, while he is NOT a stay-at-home Dad, he is the most connected Dad I know, having killer social media accounts, ties to massive parenting brands and a blog/podcast that is arguably top 3 in the country. He pushed me for months to do this, unaware of the struggles I was going through. And in getting to know him better and through him, other Dads, it has fueled my passion to be an active and engaged stay-at-home Dad. And in so doing, I have discovered I have stories that need to be told. I have experiences that can help others. I have an edge on an untapped market. It has provided me with some renewed excitement and optimism.
My newest Dad friend, James R.C. Smith told me that I should write blogs that help others with something. A practical list, teach a new skill, or enlighten my reader with a hack or new idea they can use. Well, that didn’t happen today. But, maybe this gave you a bit of insight as to where my voice is coming from. I have lots of stories I plan to continue telling here on this page, and maybe knowing me a bit better will help you relate and glean value from those stories.
Sometimes all you can do is smile. Move on with your day, hold back the tears and pretend you’re OK. Today is a sad day, but tomorrow is a new beginning. We’ll get through this together.