Thursday, February 7, 2008

What I could have done...

The subject matter of a couple of new shows have hit home for my family. The shows are Cashmere Mafia and Lipstick Jungle. The subject matter I'm focusing on are women in power who have husbands who take care of the home.

The question that the guys are asking on the shows is, What could I be doing if I wasn't . . . ?

And it's the most difficult question that I, as a stay-at-home Dad, ask myself.

One of my earliest entries talked about how, upon telling guys that I was going to be an at-home Dad when JD was born, their responses included, "Lucky!" and, "How'd you swing that?"

Now, it certainly is not brain surgery. The going rate for a daytime caregiver, I believe, is around $20 - 25k per year. Not exactly big time money. It's cooking and cleaning, educating and entertaining. Again, not coordinating major business deals.

I love my son. I love my wife. I love my job.

But if I wasn't doing this, what would I be doing? Maybe I would hate my job, my boss, my life. I would feel an immense amount of pressure to continue working because we would have grown accustomed to our combined income. Perhaps I could do something worthwhile, like actively and successfully pursue a writing career. Or I could have been a great closer. Who knows? Who cares?

Now I have to be a great parent. I have the opportunity to shape a human being, to direct his abilities and dreams toward his version of success. We go swimming. He's just learning to hit a ball with his shinny stick (small hockey stick). He will play with and page through books by himself. When he's older, we'll do art projects and write stories together. We'll spend summer days playing baseball and basketball, winter days on the ice. I'll teach him to respect the kitchen and his elders. We'll battle over bedtime, naptime, and vegetables. We'll battle over video games, homework, and cell phone usage.

Those are the things that light a fire under my butt. There are days when I don't put my full 100% into making the most out of our day, then there are days when I try to make our minutes valuable by incorporating something educational, just to have him be cranky and only want to play without direction. Then there was the day last week when he walked all the way from the living room into the kitchen for the first time. When he wakes up, he babbles, "Dadadada . . ."

When I see all of these things, the good and the bad, I know that there is nothing more important that I could accomplish.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Will you smell him?

There was a time when the scent of JD's diapers could have been classified as "sweet". Such is no longer the case.

Six months old. I would say that is when his diapers started to stink. Said stink corresponded to his beginning solid foods. The fact that these foods were pureed made no difference. Hey, what do you think your poop would smell like if you drank V8 and apple juice all day, every day?

The nine month change was his beginning table foods. Mac 'n' cheese, bread, potatoes, soups, and anything I ate that wasn't hot and spicy or a no-no food (eggs, peanut butter, among others) were ready for consumption. JD slowly got used to the idea of eating everything that I ate. His poop became more regular with greater consistency. I don't mean that the regularity was consistent, I mean the quality of the poop was more adult-like. As was the smell.

At twelve months, his diet went almost completely adult. Again, consider a diet of milk, yogurt, fruit, vegetables, and a few odds and ends but all on the healthy side. You'd be on the pot at the same time every day.

Starting last week, though, there was a problem with his diapers. The problem was in the consistency category. Soup comes to mind. Pea soup. But without that veggie-and-bacon smell. Think more like spoiled milk and rancid meat blended with rotting vegetables. Now you're with me. Not pleasant.

If you think you've fought and bargained with your spouse over diaper changing duties, these were epic battles. The old trick where I smell the poop, then send him to Mommy to play and then she smells it and says, "Did he poop?" followed by my denial of smelling anything when he was with me doesn't work anymore. Our greatest efforts in debate, logic, and guilting have been put in full force.

It not only stinks, but is messy. Sometimes it leaks onto the bodysuit. That needs to be changed. And he doesn't feel well, so he's not content to just lie there and wait patiently for you to clean up his mess. No, he is in distress and lets you know about it.

I will be happy when I get to change my one log per day. It may stink, but it's an easy cleanup and it flushes nicely, too.