Friday, July 19, 2013

Is Staying at Home Making Me Dumber?

Dumber? More dumb? I am not even sure how you are supposed to say it, that is what my editor wife is for. In four years I should be ready to head back into the workforce, back to teaching kids art, if it still exists in public schools. I am more than a little scared to go back. I suppose most of us who had careers before becoming stay at home parents have felt this way.

Maybe it is because I am around the kids all day instead of being challenged by my peers, trying to have an intelligent conversations while scarfing down cafeteria food in the 20 minute lunch break I used to have.

Maybe it is because I spend more time explaining why one shouldn't put things in the toilet that don't belong there. Or maybe it is because most days I feel like I am putting out fire after fire and don't know if going back to the classroom will be any different.

Does this lack of stimulation delay your brain's ability to function at a high level? I am not sure but dealing with diapers, snacks, and playdates isn't exactly the kind of stimulation I used to get.

Staying at home presents its own challenges. You have to think quickly on your feet, you have to be patient, and you have to be tough yet nurturing. This is exactly the way I was in my classroom.

Most of the Stay At Home Dads that I know were doing something before they became the primary caregiver of their children. Most of them had some sort of passion that fell by the wayside. For some it was music, a hobby they loved, their photography.

For me, it was my art. I don't even know if I could pick up a pencil and draw like I used to anymore. Is it like riding a bike? Maybe I am too chickenshit to find out for sure. Recently, on my Facebook page, I posted an image that I drew of Chris Cornell when I was in college.

I don't even know if the artist that drew that is still in me or not. I am hoping he is and that I can pull him back out again. Part of me, and this is the part that is staying at home, feels that that guy is lost somewhere inside me. Am I crazy to think this way, or does everyone feel this? When people ask me if I miss teaching I can honestly say that I do.

Staying at home was a shift from teaching everyone else's kids to focusing solely on mine. While staying at home has made me feel much closer to my kids, I have lost an important part of me in the process. I suppose that is where the sacrifice of self comes in.

I still do artwork, mostly with the kids, but they are at the ages where their attention span doesn't last long. If I needed time to work on something it would have to be at night so that means giving up a night to work on it. Problem is, most nights I don't feel like sitting down to draw. The fear manifests itself in my lack of work from 2008 until today.

When or if I go back to work I will have to rely on my old stuff. Will that cut it? An artist who is not continually evolving doesn't stand out. Despite my frame, this may be a time where that no longer happens.

I suppose it is about priorities. While raising the kids and staying at home is rewarding you don't have the performance reviews, bonuses, and accolades that you might get from a job outside of the home. Is your spouse showering you with praise the same as a review from your department head? Am I still the same guy I once was?

It's time for me to rededicate myself to my first love. Art. Do you set aside time every night to reconnect with your old self? I sure don't. After spending the day chasing a kid who doesn't want to potty train but likes to pee on the floor and feeding my five year old daughter, who may or may not have three stomachs every five minutes, I would much rather watch mindless TV and slowly empty my DVR of its contents.

It's not even New Years but I am going to make a resolution. I am going to avoid losing my artist self by dedicating time to my art again. So instead of sitting in front of a screen and finding out what other people are up to, I am going to sit down at my drafting table and find out how I am doing.


  1. Don't get me wrong here but connect the dots and see where it takes you. Get the ink, oil,lead or whatever flowing and see where it takes you. No boundry, no lines, let it take you away.
    BTW, your site rocks on my mobile. Sorry bout any fat fingering mistakes!

  2. "Do you set aside time every night to reconnect with your old self? I sure don't." Well, that hit me like a ton of bricks. This is really a great piece, well developed and honest. I especially like that last line, I am so guilty of that as well.
    Oh look, that guitar is staring at me, I think I'll just turn this of and...

  3. I just found this article. Thank you. -A Stay At Home Mom who has lost her touch, drive and brains.

  4. First of all Dad in charge what a great share. i'm a 31 years old and just had my vasectomy last Friday. i'm going to keep this short because it is my fourth time trying to send this without somehow deleting it. I have four beautiful children and my receiving doctor suggested I have the procedure so I made the appointment watched some videos and scheduled the operation it's funny how when it comes to my cars and Bike And products, I will do lots of research but when it came to myself and a very important part of myself. I didn't do any? I asked a few guys at work and they all said the same thing it was a piece of cake they felt a slight staining followed by a burn and then went home they rested all weekend went to work on Monday were a little sore but by Friday they were 100%. I figured that's all the proof I needed. I also thought that I had a high pain tolerance I was wrong if I was being tortured and they were trying to get information out of me I would've told them anything they wanted to know I felt everything everything I mean everything after she asked for more local for the sixth Time I started to think it was maybe just Celine or something. The worst part about it was knowing that she had to do it to the other side. what pissed me off is that the nurse offered me stress balls as if to say she knew what I was going to be experiencing. I said no no thank you she gave me a look like well I'll just put them right here just in case you want them. I can't stop thinking about that part and how I quickly reach for them and she gave me another look like I told you so. I put myself in a meditative state once I knew she was done with the first one I didn't hear anything towards the end just kept feeling them change the cold compress on my head and I think they were telling me to breathe through my nose. anyway I carefully take myself home and I'm pretty much in shock with what just happened. I rested as much as I could with a 2 1/2 and three-month-old at the house my girlfriend was a champ and did all of the work I go back to work on Monday ice and my jockstrap are my best friends I'm in construction But we're nearing the end of our job it's what we call punchlist you know paining small adjustments and cleaning I can even take break in one of the units and ice my boys. on about the fifth day all of the soreness is gone but I have an ache in my left side with some investigating I find a marble sized lump above my left testicle and I'm pretty sure that's where the ache is coming from that's when I decided to do some research go figure. I had a tear in my eye after reading some of these sad stories not only because of you poor men but because I'm beginning to think I made one of the worst decisions of my life and like someone said earlier I've made a few bad ones. i'm trying to get my girlfriend to read some of these post but she thinks I'm overreacting she's also a firm believer in the universe and thinks I'm being negative. i'm thinking well there's a red flag for how I might get treated in the future. she's beginning to become frustrated with me trying to take it easy. I'm on day eight now still for the past four days I've had an ache in my left side the ice and pain pills help but I still know that it's there I am waiting another two days to test the plumbing wish me luck I will keep you updated And I hope the rest of you find the help that you need