Child Rearin'

Published on August 12th, 2014 | by Richard Black


Fatherhood and the Best job Ever?

081414_bestjobever_signThree or four times a year I’m forced out of my home to procure milk, Ensure, suppositories and various other necessary items for my family’s continued well being. It’s one of my many duties as a stay at home parent and one I don’t much care for largely because I might be engaged in conversation when I’m out and about in public.

Granted it doesn’t happen often.

I generally take measures to deter anyone from coming within a five foot radius by neglecting to shower for a few days, muttering angrily to myself, or even brandishing a butter knife wildly in the air if the situation requires. Most of the time these actions are more than enough to discourage even the most tenacious passers by. Occasionally however I am approached by someone with few survival instincts, social skills or presumably a functional sense of sight and smell.

It usually happens at the grocery store because that’s where I spend about 80% of my time. After exercising my considerable powers of patience (No you can’t have any cookies, No you can’t have a bottle of sangria, please get that tube of Preparation H out of your mouth) and my less than considerable powers of concentration I’ll finally make it to the checkout aisle. Just about the time I consider letting Darcy have the bottle of five hour energy she’s been pestering me for the eighth time in as many seconds some well meaning soul will ask my daughter “The Question.”

It’s always the same one and I suppose I should be used to it by now and, for the most part, I am. Mostly.

“Are you having fun with your daddy on his day off?” some kindly unsuspecting passer by will ask Darcy.

Now if Darcy had inherited my personality instead of her mother’s the conversation would probably stop right there  (why yes it’s nice to be let out of the basement every once in a while I imagine her saying). Instead my daughter smiles and nods and mumbles “yes” before pawing over the candy and leaving me to address the next part of the issue: “The Statement”.

“It’s so nice for you to take time off to spend with your daughter,” the delightful old bag will say.

Instead of ignoring the comment or nodding my head and mumbling some sort of pleasantry I engage because I’m a moron. I usually explain that I’m a stay at home father knowing full well that I will have bought myself at least five minutes of unwanted conversation that will leave me feeling irritated and vaguely depressed.

And so for a small eternity I will hear the ins and outs of a husband, brother, son, or friend of a friend who is also a stay at home father. I imagine it’s a bit like being a minority in a progressive town during the 1980’s when everyone your introduced to manages to wedge into the conversation that they also have a lot of black friends.

081414_bestjobever_frisk“It’s really the best job ever,” is how the story always concludes. I usually stand there and nod my head, something I should have done in the first place, before barking at Darcy to stop licking the metal bars on the shopping cart and shuffling off to the car.

Don’t get me wrong, raising my daughter is a great job, maybe the best job I’ve ever had but classifying the position as “the best job ever” is something of a stretch…at least for me.

Testing condoms on willing super models might be “the best job ever” as long as I only had to do it once or twice a day.

Being a despot also has it’s perks.  As long as I’m dreaming I’ve always thought it would be nice to be Hank Azaria. He’s a pretty good looking guy, I imagine he’s got an even better looking bank account. Hank’s always had steady work. I never see him in the tabloids and I imagine that he’s generally allowed to live his life in peace and swim in a pool of creamed corn or whatever else it is he does to relax.

Of course I understand what people mean when they tell me that raising my daughter is the best job ever. They’re really not saying that it’s the best job ever. What they mean is that raising my daughter may be the most important and fulfilling job I may ever have. Maybe they’re saying that the opportunity to provide Darcy with a solid relationship with her mother and I is the greatest gift we can give to each other and I can agree with that.

Then again maybe I’m wrong.

There are people out there who thoroughly enjoy spending each and every waking moment with their children. These are the same people who greet the morning with joy in their heart and a song on their lips after downing five cups of coffee and a few industrial strength antidepressants. These are people who are not, I feel as if I should mention, me.

I love my daughter. In fact I cannot imagine loving anyone more. This does not preclude the fact that raising a child can be a monumental pain in the ass. There are good moments. Fantastic moments. There are even moments in which I forget that I once spent thirty minutes tracking a turd around our home on someone’s shoes or am frequently told by aforementioned turd depositor that she “loves mama more than daddy”.

081414_bestjobever_highwayAnd that’s fine because I love my daughter. I love her, in part, because she clearly loves me more than her mother. I also love her, quite simply, because she an extension of me, my hopes and dreams and most of all because I am beholden to her. I get her. I understand her and, until she “gets” me somewhere in her mid-20’s when we’re both finally on speaking terms, that will have to be enough.

That said if anyone discovers that Heidi Klum is looking for someone to test out condoms for a few hundred grand a year or a third world country in need of leadership please give me a ring.

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