When I first became an at-home dad, I wasn't thinking about how I would fill my spare time. I wanted to get internet access, but didn't know what I was going to do with it. My son was my priority; my own wishes would come about somehow, sometime.
Eventually I got around to getting an ISP and learned how to make a web page. It was fun because I'm kind of creative and was able to use graphics on the page. Then the big question came up. What will be the focus of this web page? And since there would have to be some kind of content, and I would have to provide that content, that meant I would have to do some writing. What could I write about? Who would be interested in what I had to say? I remembered the shop-worn phrase, "Write what you know", and The PapaHood was born. I would write about things that were going on in my life at home with my son.
Several versions of the site came and went. I finally came up with a design that made me shiver, I felt so good about it. In the meantime, as an at-home dad, I was beginning to feel isolated, and out of touch with that world outside my front door. Enter Steve Barrows - Evil Genius and SaHCow.
He had found, and liked, my website. We yakked digitally back and forth for a while, then I started getting really frustrated with not knowing anyone, and Steve turned me on to Dads List at Daddys Home. Although I had a link from my page to the DH site, I wasn't familiar with listserves at the time. I knew there was a mailing list available through DH, but thought it was, well, a postal mailing list, and couldn't see the point to it.
Welllll. This was great! All these guys (and even a SaHM or two) going through the same things as me. I'm not alone! HooRayyyy!
Then Mr. Barrows somehow gets past Hal (DH Grand Poobah)'s defenses, becomes site director, rips everything up, and starts over again, enlisting yours truly to become an occasional contributor (I've got the tapes, Steve!) to the site, and maybe do a little graphics work as well.
Well, I'm not really a writer. I've got this little personal web page that is more or less a glorified journal, no experience putting out a bunch of words on some sort of schedule, and I'm nervous as hell.
My son was in preschool a couple of days a week, and on those days I had to get up early to get him to school. The rest of the time, we could sleep until he wanted to get up. This was fine because I've been a night person most of my life (working in bars and restaurants was right up my alley.) I like to work at night, and I was able to do this. I was really enjoying putting things together for Daddys Home.
Things have gone fairly well since this all came about in the spring (of 1998). I've had my creative dry spells, and Hal hasn't fired me. Then September rolled around, and my son started kindergarten - full-time. His school starts a little earlier than most around here, so I have to get up early every day, now. This means going to bed earlier. Danger, danger.
Just about a year ago, I started doing some part-time work. Since it is just a manual labour thing for some friends, and they're not in any great rush to complete things (they're fixing up their 140-year-old house - I'm painting the inside as well as restoring much of the original wood on door and window frames, stairs. I also did some work in a neighbour's home - word gets around), I work during the hours my son is in school, then go pick him up when he's done.
My wife, who has the job that puts the food on the table, started back to work in September, after her summer vacation finished (it lasted a luxurious month-and-a-half, because of all of the overtime she had banked). We're still settling in to our new place that we moved to August first. So there's a few changes all happening at once.
Soon I'm beginning to feel a little pressure time-wise. I can't stay up until two or three a.m. any more, 'cause I have to get up so early. I'm actually tired before midnight, now. I'm beginning to feel just a bit crowded. I get home with my son in the afternoon, and there's not much time to do anything (fun). My son, then my DW go to bed and again I've hardly got any time left to do anything (fun).
By this time I'm kind of thinking that it'd be really nice to do a little bit of work on my own website - I hadn't touched it for months. But how can I do both? Suddenly, I've got four jobs: Being with my son when he's not in school, working at our friends' place, writing and designing for Daddys Home, and writing and designing for The PapaHood. And my wife is back in the stress factory she calls her job. I know there's too much stress there because she has to bring some home with her everyday, so we can all be miserable. (She likes to share.)
And then my brain decides to act up on me at the same time as my knees and one foot begin to complain. My brain thinks it wants to go through some changes now. It no longer wants to be defined as a SaHD. It wants to spread its wings and soar with the captains of industry and engage in idle country club discourse with other creatures of accomplishment and reknown. I tell my brain that it is crazy. My brain says, "Who, me?" and I spin 'round, dizzy from the chase for the answer to the question from my brain. "Who, me?" Kill comma. "Who me?"
Dads List is full of people with very well put-together minds. There are more of them all the time. I gave up posting to the list long ago. I was logging on too late in the evening. Things were passing me by again.
I'm not just a Stay-at-Home-Dad. But almost everything I do is about Daddy-dom. Something has to give. Although the wage I pay myself for working on The PapaHood is the same as what I make at DH, the benefits are more substantial; the hug factor is higher.
So I'm going to down-size myself a bit, create a little more elbow room, try and get back to my relaxed old self, go for a beer with Matt (if he can ever get off of his rollercoaster for a little while), and concentrate a little more on the local scene. TTFN.
P.S.: There are some tremendous writers on Dads List. It would be nice to see them put something up on the DH site (...and we also want a new stadium or we're pullin' the franchise outa here!). Guys like Brett, Bill B., Marty, Kim in Oz, Dan in Seattle, Mark in Edmonchuk, and many more. How about it, guys?© 2005 - 2012 Hal Levy and the above captioned author.