Looking Back at My Year as an At-Home Dad

Audrey Zachary Classy Chair

So I got a job.  Yup, starts today.  I’m pretty excited about it too!  But I must admit there’s a significant element of terror involved.  Not just because the role is going to serve as a big challenge for me—which it will—but also because I’ve spent the past year at home, watching the kids and keeping the house from burning down (albeit just barely).  Needless to say, this week is going to be a monumental adjustment for this at-home dad.

But before taking the plunge, I afforded myself one final chance to look back on the past year of my life; the goods, the bads, and all the other lessons learned during my time alone with the kids.  Let’s take a look, shall we?

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It’s Time We Talked About Wild Kratts

Wild Kratts

Now that my daughter is three, it’s become nearly impossible to keep her completely away from the television set.  PBS in particular, thanks to our cutting the cable.  While this means that she’s thankfully not exposed to the machine gun fire of brain-frying commercials and the endless parade of brain-dead princesses with no aspirations to do anything with their lives than to look pretty and make babies with handsome men, she has become quite likely the world’s number one fan of a show you’ve probably never heard of:  Wild Kratts.

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Lessons in Fatherhood as Taught by Eighties Movies

Zachary-Spider

It was only after I said to my daughter, “If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything,” that I realized I just quoted Back to the Future.  I must admit I was a little self conscious about it at first, but a 2-year-old doesn’t know a McFly from a Tannen.  And the sentiment certainly isn’t bad advice to impart on anyone.  In other words, an eighties movie just taught my daughter a life lesson.  Interesting.

This got me thinking:  What other wisdom could I glean from the films of my childhood?  How could the movies of the ‘80s shape me into a better father?  And these are pretty stupid questions, aren’t they?

Yep.  But let’s see what I uncovered anyway.

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Lessons for a Father and Husband on a Terrible Day in Boston

Painting-Audrey

It began with a 6 a.m. phone call.

They found the bombers.  One’s dead.  The other’s on the loose.  

Don’t leave the house.

Waltham, my home of five years, was in lockdown.  Soon all of Boston would be too, and every eye in the nation was glued to the manhunt for the second Boston Marathon bomber taking place just outside my door.

As you might expect, the news hit close to home, but for reasons beyond the lockdown.  The shootout that claimed one of the bombers’ lives took place right around the corner from where my wife and I used to live.  The apartment building where the police discovered the surviving bomber’s blood after he made his escape was just across the street from where my best friend used to live.  When the bombs went off at the marathon earlier that week, my daughter and I were at Watertown’s Arsenal Mall–now the staging area for the manhunt and visible on every American’s TV screen.  And every other location the news chose to film that day, I knew intimately.  For the first time in my adult life the biggest breaking news story in the entire world was unfolding in my back yard.

People learn a lot about themselves in situations of life and death.  They discover how they’d act when the things that matter become the only things that matter.  And what to do differently should the unthinkable befall them again.

Well, I learned a great deal about myself that day too.  I’m ashamed to say I wasn’t the father and husband I could have been.  I wasn’t attentive enough and I wasn’t protective enough.  But I know what to do differently next time.  I know what I did wrong.

And I know I’ll never allow it to happen again.

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Two-Handed Popcorn Grabs, No-Handed Dinosaurs, and a Complete Disregard for the Rules: Four Quarters with the Harlem Globetrotters

PopcornMy 2-year-old Audrey had never been to a live sporting event until this past weekend.

The Harlem Globetrotters were in town and her soon-to-be 3-year-old friend Max was going, so the timing seemed right to put aside my fears of putting her in such an environment and introduce her to the magical world of live basketball.

Because, how much trouble could a toddler get into after all?  Not much, right?  Right?

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The Cable is Gone. Now What Do I Do?

Cable Box

When I began my journey as an at-home father I knew sacrifices would need to be made.  Going from two incomes to one was not an easy one, after all. It was also abundantly clear that one of the most obvious means of cutting back on costs was getting rid of cable, along with its delicious lineup of succulent programming.  Well, friends, that time has come.  The cable is gone.

It’s been a difficult transition thus far, I’m slightly embarrassed to say.  Oh, I’m not curled up in a ball sobbing in the shower or anything.  But I’ve become so used to the TV always being on that it’s been strange dealing with the sudden quiet that has settled over my house.

But that’s just it, isn’t it?  Live television had become merely background noise.  I didn’t care much about what was coming through the cable.  Most of the shows I enjoy I can get via other methods.  Cable TV had become a distraction, nothing more.  Well, that distraction is gone now.  Silence is king.  What time I have is mine.

So what the hell do I do with it?

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