Wednesday, November 24, 2010

An Ode to the Stay at home dad

In my last blog post it was established that I come from a long line of working moms. Which personally think is something to be admired. Especially if you think of my parents mothers who worked outside the whole when it wasn't traditionally done. Yes they did jobs that were traditionally set aside for women but the fact that they both had children and worked is something to be applauded.

Someone else that needs to be applauded is the Stay-at-home dad. I grew up with a stay-at-home dad when it wasn't a popular choice. In 1989 my family moved to Edmonton from Winnipeg for my dad to attend the Masters and PhD programs at the University of Alberta. My dad started University when I was about 2. To get through his BA program he worked (correct me if I'm wrong mom) 3 jobs, attended full time University classes and had a wife and kids. When we moved to Edmonton after he graduated with his BA he took on the role as Mr. Mom whilst working on his MA and his PhD. He could work his schedule around us much better than my mom could. He was always there before we left for school. He also was able to be home when we got home. Or in later years drove carpool after school. Yes, it's true, my dad drove carpool. Further to that whilst I was in school my dad was able to arrange his schedule so he could me our classroom volunteer. Everyone else had mom volunteers in their classroom. We had my dad. He went on skating field trips. He was our computer teacher. Yes, this is from the days when "computer class" meant playing Oregon Trail for 30 minutes and there was no real teacher just someones parents who was crazy enough to take on the role of computer volunteer. I remember the day my dad started as our "computer teacher." He had asked me at breakfast if I knew who the new teacher was. Being in the 3rd grade I thought, well it's a teacher. Knowing what I know now I should have picked up on my dads hint. Needless to say to come in from the 2:15 recess to find your dad standing at the door can cause any third grader to have heart palpatations. The end of the year parent volunteer lunch left my school in a bit of a pickle though. My dad was the only male parent volunteer. They had not thought of this so they purchased all the volunteers flowers (I think it was a little potted plant) and they apologized profusely for this. Daddy on the other hand loved it. He likes flowers. One of the skills my dad honed whilst being a stay at home dad was cooking. That man can make a mean stirfry. He also cooks without recipes which drives my mother mental. Then again I'm not surprized, his dad (my Opa) was one heck of a cook. Family lore has it that he actually taught my Oma how to cook.

Having a dad that was a student had it's advantages, he was home a lot. He worked his schedule around us. We knew words like "Dissertation" and "thesis" at a young age (I was often used as a parlour trick at faculty parties, "Tania, what's your dad writing?" and I would say "a dissertation"...with a lisp.) When you went to the University you were to address everyone as doctor but sometimes if you were good you got chocolate milk. On one trip to the University the department head let me draw on his white board whilst he and my dad had a meeting. Oh AND I got to miss school twice for my dad graduations. Unfortunately all the pictures of me with my dad in his cap and gown I look terrified...or cold.

It did have its disadvantages too. My dads office was in the basement (his office has been in the basement A LOT) so when the basement door was closed you had to stay out and be quiet. Unfortunately a lot of the cool toys were in the basement. I spent a lot of my childhood tip toeing around the house. Though I'm pretty sure my dad would debate that fact. And I was told by a teacher once that I could do a project on what my dad did for a job because he didn't have a real job. Bitch.
What's interesting though is that NOW there are resources for stay at home dads. There are networks for dads online. About 337,000 results when you google "stay at home dads." There are "daddy blog" all over the internet (which personally I find way more interesting than most mommy blogs.) Furthermore, did you know there is a stay at home dad convention?! No really. What's even more interesting is that their first year of the convention was the same year my dad stopped being a stay at home dad and started working full time as a Phd.
So stay at home dads past (hi daddy!), present and future. This dubious hausfrau salutes you.
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