Wow, has it been 6 months already? Half a year since I set fire to my cubicle and ran headfirst into the loving embrace of my couch? Twenty-six weeks of diaper changing, potty training, kiddo feeding, cat hair brushing, grocery shopping, excursion planning, Sesame Street watching, blog writing, and daddy daughter bonding? Amazing. So it seems as good a time as any to look back and take stock in my performance as an at-home father. And thankfully I can, at least, take solace in one important fact about my child rearing:
My daughter is not dead. Well done, buddy.
But while keeping one’s offspring alive and functional is arguably the most important factor in raising them, there are others to consider–such as the house upkeep and whatnot. So let’s see how badly I’ve done, shall we?
I do all the grocery shopping now. All of it! My wife admittedly makes the shopping list, but Audrey and I go out and do all the heavy lifting. Now, one thing that you need to know about me is that I don’t really think outside the list at all. If a food item isn’t on the list, I won’t get it. I GET EVERYTHING ON THE LIST AND NOTHING ELSE. That is a rule my brain developed many moons ago. And I must comply with it. It is my brain after all. This, combined with another bad trait of mine (lack of weekly meal planning), leads to a few gaps in the weekly meal preparation.
For instance just last week I decided I was going to grill up some marinated chicken for some sandwiches. I had the chicken, the marinade, some lettuce, and the buns. Smart move, right? Well…I didn’t take side dishes into consideration. And, as a result, there were none. All because I didn’t plan out the week’s meals and didn’t get anything that wasn’t on the list. Hmph.
But, if there is an upside to this habit of mine, it’s that we rarely waste food now. My strict adherence to the list, combined with the fact that I can go to the grocery store multiple times a week, means that we eat nearly everything we buy. Very little ends up in the trash. So it’s cost efficient and good for the environment! Huzzah!
I cook now too. Scary, right? Just last year all I could make were grilled cheese and fried egg sandwiches. Now I’m making butternut squash mac n’ cheese and zucchini bread. Hey, I’m no Guy Fieri–hate that guy–but I am getting better.
That said, cooking can be a pretty stressful endeavor for me. For one, I am TERRIBLE at timing. It’s not uncommon for one dish under my watch to be frozen while another is burnt to a hot crisp. And when things like that happen, the red hot sweaty stress comes on like a flaming wave that just keeps rising and rising into the sky. Before you know it I’m stomping around the kitchen like an angry hippo, sweating from the head, and declaring my food inedible trash. Sigh.
Keeping the house spic n’ span isn’t a new concept to me. I just suck at it. This is primarily due to the fact that I’m not terribly adverse to wallowing in my own crapulence. Or, to spell it out differently, I just don’t do it enough.
The kid is a horribly messy eater. Those crumbs and food bits need to be swept up and mopped every single day to avoid ants. Do I do both steps every single day? Nope. My daughter also leaves her junk all over the house. And while I have taught myself that it’s pointless to pick them up until the end of the day, do I actually follow through each night? Not really. And then there’s the cats. Always fighting, always leaving little “dundle-tufts” of fur all over the damn place. Those, at least, I have taught my daughter to pick up and put in the trash. It’s a start, right?
The house isn’t a complete mess though. I keep up with it. I like to think that I keep the house in a state of balance–not too clean, not too messy. Perfectly average. And therefore deserving of the most average of grades.
Oh god. Never do it unless my wife shoves my nose in it.
Keeping the house in order is one thing. What about that kid of mine? Sure, she’s alive, but is she happy? Is she learning? Is she developing properly? She’s not stagnating, is she?
This is a tough one for me to grade. After all, I do an awful lot for my daughter. I take her outside to parks, zoos, museums, libraries, and more all the time. I read books to her too. Tons of them. We listen to music together, dance, cook food, play with her toys and more. In short, I’m always tending to her. The effort and the love is there. And that’s the most important thing…
Save the living/dead part.
But there are things that I see my wife do that come so naturally to her and yet feel so foreign to me. She’s much better at constructive playtime, for one. She’s always working math, reading, or something else educational like that into her interactions with our daughter. She’s also much more successful at planning out events, whereas I’m more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants kind of guy. If either of us is a natural at this child raising stuff, it’s her not me.
But that’s okay. I am proud of the fact that after 6 months I still enjoy the time I spend every day with my daughter. We have loads of fun together, get out and see new places all the time, and yes, no one is dead.
That’s good enough for me.