On Wednesday just before noon, it happens. Lucy comes home from kindergarten and doesn't return to school until after Labor Day for first grade. When I was unceremoniously let go by work in February, I didn't think we'd get to this point. And, while I've been fearing June 12 for several weeks, I'm starting to look forward to it. Will this change by June 14 when I hear the girls scream, "Yah-huh! Nut-uh!" at each other 482 times? Sure. But give me this moment now please.
After this week I finally feel like I'm "owning" this stay-at-home role I have. Allison has tried to tell me over and over (and over and over) that my problem with staying home with Paige has been it wasn't on my terms. And it wasn't. After working in the industry for 15 years, I was dismissed by a guy with no discernible skills and who has bragged to employees about "firing hundreds of people" in his career. Congratulations, I'm another notch in your bedpost.
That stung for a few months, I can admit it. The wet, cold, gray Portland weather didn't help either. Paige and I were limited to indoor activities and I still was under the guise that I'd get her back on track with her afternoon nap. Unfortunately, the day in April when she stared me dead in the eyes during lunch and declared, "I'm never napping again, NEVER EVER!" - she actually meant it.
Now we don't worry about rushing home for naps. This week we went to her soccer class, the International Rose Garden and a huge park in the city with a volcano in it. I've finally realized, as long as we have a lunch and sunblock packed, and a fully charged iPhone (for when her exhaustion is too much to handle and she falls asleep in the car leaving me to find a spot in a random parking lot under a tree for her to sleep), we can conquer the world. There aren't many places better than Portland in the summer, so I'm actually looking forward to seeing what else we can explore in the coming weeks. Add in Lucy, and the more the merrier minus the part where I have to make additional trips back into the house for her sunglasses, snack, books, etc. before we can leave our driveway.
It's funny - owning this role made the most sense after I received an email from a guy I know in the area. I asked him about keeping a lookout for any potential job opportunities in his conversations and travels. He responded with, "You're a stay-at-home dad now, can I be you when I grow up!" He meant it and it resonated with me. And, the other day at the park, a mom asked what I do, and for the first time I said without flinching, "I'm a stay-at-home dad." Typically, I bumble and babble through a whole thing about not having a job, I used to be a writer, etc., but now I'm owning it. Plus, it helps explain why I haven't shaved in two weeks and look like a cross between the old-school Brawny Paper Towel guy (minus the physique) and Conan O'Brien (minus the laughter).
It's not really a "white blank page" for Paige and I anymore. We know what we're doing, we have figured out each other's tendencies to a degree but there still are plenty of chapters left to write. And now, it appears, we'll have the summer to do it. I just hope I don't have a blog June 14 entitled "Yah-huh, nut-uh" with a different vibe to it.