The Reason I Stay: The Life of a Stay-at-Home Dad

Our daughter, Edith, just turned four. It really is crazy and incredible and I can hardly believe that it has been four years already. As I have mentioned in other posts, this is the final Spring and Summer before she starts school in the Fall. We are so very excited that she will be attending a Waldorf School. (More posts about that in the future). However, I am sad too, because it will be the end of a portion of my life with Edith that I have been very fond of: the stay-at-home-dad years.

I feel so very lucky that we were able to figure out how to make it work for me to stay at home. Being a dad (Papa actually) that stays home brings it’s own awkward moments and plenty of moms giving unsolicited advice. We still have a very pervasive attitude in our culture that men are merely babysitters and aren’t fully capable of parenting. I have wonderful and smart friends and none of them have ever “momsplained” anything to me, but plenty of strangers have:

“Put that girls hat on!”

“Giving mommy a break?”

“Do you have the day off today daddy?”

“Shouldn’t you be working?”

“You are doing a good job, daddy, how great that you are helping out!”

Gag. Gag. Gag. And these are just the tip of the iceberg.

Dads are parents too. This is doubly true of folks lucky enough to have two of them. Mostly we laugh these off but sometimes and on some days it can get to you at least a little bit.

I always get very excited when I run into another dad who stays at home. In fact if you are reading this and you are one please message me. We should definitely be friends. I’m not sure if stay-at-home-moms get the same line of questioning but I do get asked to sort of justify my choice to be at home. So, I thought I would share the reasons we chose for me to stay home. I say “we” because clearly I have the best husband on the planet and we make our decisions together. Usually. Unless it’s about how to spend $200 a week at Target. That’s all on me.

So here are the reasons I stay home.

1. I wanted to parent more than anything

I waited until I was almost 40 to be a parent. For a large part of my life I didn’t even think being a gay parent was an option. I want to be the best parent I can be. For me, this means spending as much time as possible with Edie in her formative years. I want to set the pace of the day for her and be there when she reaches milestones. I liked being a teacher and making money but nothing at all compares to the responsibility and reward of being a parent every single day.

2. She is my only child

Perhaps if we had started earlier, or if adoption wasn’t so darn expensive, or if having multiple children wasn’t so expensive then we would have had more than one. As it stands though she is my only child and most likely always will be. (Unless I get pregnant naturally). I literally can’t believe that my time as stay-at-home Papa is getting remotely close to ending. I have learned so much about myself, the world, and my husband during this time. I also feel like I’m just now getting ok at this parenting thing. Like many of you I feel like I suck most of the time. However, I give it my all because she is my all.

3. I want Edie to love herself

This is my absolute top goal as a parent. I want Edie to love herself and to love others. It’s also part of why we are raising Edith in a faith community. I want to be here to show her how to speak kindly to herself and others. I want to be there to help her navigate racism as best I can and to help her love herself so much that she can stand brave and tall in the face of injustice. I want to be there to help her build her confidence and to find her voice. Again, I mess up almost every single day and as a white man I am still learning, but we are determined that she love herself.

4. I stay home so Edie knows we will always be there

I should make sure that you know that I didn’t love my job as a teacher. So, quitting a job you don’t like is never too difficult. I should also say that though my husband works a full time job as an attorney he too makes tons of sacrifices. He rushes home on the 5 pm train to insure he sees Edie for at least an hour every evening and he is at her beck and call all weekend. We make sacrifices of our time to be with her because we want her to know that she is our priority and that we will always be there. This is certainly not to say that working parents do not do this. I am not judging anyone’s choices at all. I’m simply explaining our choice!

5. Who wouldn’t want to play all day?

Of course there are tough times. Most of the time by Friday I’m so tired and just want a moment or two to myself. However, I basically get to play all day and spend a large chunk of time outdoors. What’s not to love? Today, for example, we made pancakes, we did some chores, played with baby dolls, painted, went to the library, read, danced, did gymnastics in the family room, colored, played in the yard, walked the dog, and drew before bed.

Perhaps you are a stay-at-home parent as well and can relate to some of these. Maybe you are thinking about taking the leap into the land of parenting from home every day. I’d love to hear from you about your own experiences. Also, if you are a fellow stay-at-home-dad message me! We can start a club.

What are your thoughts on staying home to parent?

Papa’s Picks : The Ultimately Easy and Affordable Girl’s Style Guide

Spring is coming and that means so many things are coming back to life. As a gardener, Edie and I are obsessively checking for new sprouts in our garden. We have also all but finished our Spring clothing shopping. Find the task daunting? Let us help you to make it simple and affordable.

When I first became a dad I way overdid it with clothes. In fact, if you ask my husband I still have that tendency. Setting a spending plan (budget is such an ugly word) helps to give you some guidelines. Make sure you are also aware of how your little one is growing and changing at the time. Don’t want to buy too much if in the middle of a growth spurt and always try and buy a little too big.

In New England, where it is winter for a really really long time, Spring is about adding some color again and also pieces that can be layered. Some of the pieces will transition into summer and some will not. Keep that in mind when prioritizing and sizing. After that I like to think about what things are priorities and what things I can get with leftover money as splurges. Here are the three categories I like to think of:

The Affordable Basics, Layers and Mix and Match, and Holidays and Splurges

This post contains some affiliate links. While I might make some money off of your purchases it comes at no additional cost to you.

The Affordable Basics

One super important thing I have learned is that leggings are not an option they are a necessity. I also have learned that really 3-4 pair are plenty. I do laundry every day. Duh. See this post- Plastic Free Love. If you don’t do laundry every day, first off I envy you, secondly then add a few more pair. I used to buy higher end leggings and it is not worth it at all!! Target Leggings are where it’s at! $6? What? Yeah, $6 and they last and are soft and you need every color. Check out the unicorn ones! The basics go with everything!

Layers and Mix and Match

Next you need some layering pieces to add to your leggings. I can not say enough good things about Primary. Some of you still haven’t tried them and I’m really not sure why. Gooooooo!!! So soft. No stupid logos or goofy pictures. Just great colors and fit. I find the stuff to run a little big, which is great because you get a few seasons out of it. Their dresses have pockets: a must for Edie and most other dress wearers. Here is Edie in her black dress from Primary


Get 20% off your first order at Primary.com with code AFF20PCT
Enjoy a great discount code here!

Holidays and Splurges

With most seasons comes a special occasion or Holiday. When I can I like to splurge a little for an outfit. With Spring, I always look for a Birthday outfit and an Easter outfit. For those I usually do Hanna Anderson or Boden. As a newbie parent, I used to buy a lot more from them. As we are getting closer to paying for Kindergarten and in order to keep my marriage intact I try and shop at these spots only when on sale or for special occasion. If you have the resources, go for it. I particularly love Boden’s quality, and both brands are committed to representation and diversity. Win!

Look at this number we are eyeing for Easter:

Hello gorgeous

A shoes and accessories post will be coming soon and separately…but take a look here for the best shoes ever…Zimmerman Shoes.

Let us know what you think! How do you manage seasonal wardrobe changes? Share your successes and favorites with us!

Don’t Touch My Hair

As February is Black History Month we thought we would share some of Edie and her dads’ book recommendations appropriate to the month (and every month,really). Of course we are all about representation and the importance of all kids seeing themselves reflected in authentic, realistic, and diverse ways. We want Edie to read books about people that look like her and our family. We also want her to see all the choices and options that she has to be authentic and happy!

It is just as important for white kids and white parents to be reading books early on that expose white kids to diversity and kids of color, particularly if they are not around much difference in real life. White parents should be having conversations with white kids about inclusion and issues that kids of color can face. So, these recommendations are not just for black, brown, and multiracial families. They are for all families! In fact, as a white parent myself, I would say the onus is on us to work on issues of inclusion and racism. It is up to us to raise kids that are, well, not racist.

If your kid’s library is not diverse then please let us suggest some places to start. Then, use these books to help you start to have conversations with your little one about race, inclusion, diversity, and inclusion. It is indeed up to us to bring these topics up and not pretend they do not exist. Children pick up on our silence about topics and this silence can create more racism, homophobia, and other bad behavior.

Buy some new books!

Here are some of our recommendations:
1. This is one of our new favorites. The author also has a great Instagram feed. It deals with teaching kids to stand up for themselves when people touch their hair without permission. As any parent of a kid of color, or person of color can tell you: this is unfortunately a valuable skill. I have had to literally pull a few hands out of Edie’s hair.

2. It’s always great to have a book with multiple people highlighted. The illustrations are also wonderful in this book. Finally, it’s all women!! #girlpower

3. Great title right? Another one with super illustrations and a wonderful message. This one lays the self love on thick. And that is a message that all kids need: particularly kids of color.

4. This book, about an important and familiar man, teaches kids the importance of words and using your voice to stand up against injustice. A well written and emotional tribute as well as an inspiration for parent and child, alike.

5. More strong women of color? Yes, please. Many of you have seen the movie. This is a great children’s version of the inspiring story.

I could go on and on, but not this time. I would love to hear some of your favorites!

If you are looking for some discussion with your child after try very open ended questions:

1. What did you notice in this story?

2. How does it feel to be treated badly?

3. What can we do to make sure everyone is included?

Happy Reading! Now, go diversify your library!

Spring Springing

This morning Edie saw a robin at our bird feeder as well as some bluejays. We also noticed larger quantity and variety of birds than we have seen in months. Also exciting is that we noticed that there were the beginnings of buds on some of the same trees holding those feeders.

Some snow is expected in a few days, but February is about half way over and even in dark and dreary New England, spring is on the way. In the following weeks my almost 4 year old, Edie and I will pick out our seeds from Baker Heirloom Seeds. Just looking at their catalog and the colors can make you happy and hopeful.

One of the other exciting things about Spring prep is that you get to start picking out some brighter colors to wear. Well, at least Edie does. I pretty much stick with blue and gray all year long except for some Nantucket Red thrown in for good measure in the warmer months. In fact, even today Edie wore a bright pink cardigan to church that had a warmth that promised spring was on the way.

Here are some colors and styles we are excited about for spring!

1. When we first had a girl we said absolutely no pink. We didn’t want her to be a princess-imitating gender-norm-loving girl who overly obsessed with body and image and all things traditional used to keep women and girls down. But, we have softened. We still want her to smash the patriarchy but she can wear some soft pink while doing so. We bought this shirt this week because I just love a kid in an oxford or button up. Too cute. There are several colors available but the pink is adorable! Thanks, Target.

2. If you have never shopped at Primary then follow the link and start now. Lots of logo free, basic, good quality, comfortable basics for all genders. This is the first year they have offered raincoats and they are perfect. I love a Classic Yellow Raincoat , but they have several colors to choose from. Buy it a size up and you might just get two years out of it! Maybe…

3. You guys know how we love love love head wraps and turbans. Spring means we get to update fabrics and add bright colors again. Please take a look at this one here from our absolute favorites at Dillon Joy . It’s everything! Go ahead and buy it now because they will sell out!

4. Finally, everyone needs good quality shoes for Spring that will keep you warm and dry. Edie and I wear our rain boots to the beach everyday when we are looking for sea glass and other treasure. My mom always says you should never buy cheap shoes. And I always listen to my mother. You really can’t go wrong with classic Hunter boots. They are well made and are a spring classic.
We could go on and on, but we won’t. These are just a few things to help us lean into Spring a little bit. What things are you excited about this Spring? Let us know! Let’s keep hope alive.

What we leave behind.

This one is going to be a bit heavy. I have been listening to Joni Mitchell, it’s Monday, and my dad is dying. He has been for a few years, but is really sick now and I was just texting with him and he “really just wants to make it until Christmas.” He was diagnosed with Pulmonary Fibrosis about five years ago and has been steadily declining since. There were several times we thought it was the end but this time it really is. He can’t really do much at all. He gasps for air and is uncomfortable. He texts and listens to music and plans for his cremation and memorial. In the evening, if he is up for it, he gets wheeled to the car and is driven around by his partner to look at Christmas lights.

Edie has only seen my dad twice. That is enough right there to leave me heartbroken and sad. My parents divorced about 14 years ago and I didn’t handle that so well. I was mad at my dad and let that anger eat away and ruin our relationship. Not that it was ever a perfect one, but it definitely had its positives. I have a lot of regret about those missing years and our lack of closeness. Some days it really gets me down.

Edie will not remember my dad. Even now he is mostly known through pictures and texts. When I tell her that he is my dad she laughs nervously as if she doesn’t know what to do with that information. He and I have made peace as much as we can and I’m so thankful for that grace. My dad had a really tough childhood and was emotionally and physically abused in some really awful ways by his parents. When I think of this and consider what a kind and gentle parent he was I’m amazed at his strength and tenacity and love.

I learned a lot from my dad. Sure, smoking cigarettes and flirting are two of those things. Thankfully, I haven’t smoked in 14 years or so and I rarely get the chance to flirt. But, I learned some really important things too. Some of those things helped shape me as a parent and will help Edie as a person too. One way I can remember and honor him is to share with her those things and tell her about my dad and all the things he helped me learn and be.

My dad taught me to love everyone. He didn’t stand for racism and homophobia and indifference or prejudice. He is kind and anti-war and violence. He never owned a gun. He’s never voted Republican.

My dad believed that his daughters and sons were equal in intelligence and ability. My dad loves hanging out with LGBTQ folks. When I came out, all the young gays who were often rejected at home had a warm welcome, a meal, and a place to stay with us. My dad (along with my mom) would even take us all to the gay bar for a drag show.

My dad stood up to institutions like the church and challenged them on institutional biases and prejudice. Eventually the hypocrisy grew too much for him and he left those institutions behind.

My dad taught me to love good music and to sing loudly and enjoy it. Some of my fondest memories are of Simon and Garfunkel being played loudly on the record player as we all sang and danced along. To this day folk music is still the epitome of good music.

My dad loves family. Though his parents were difficult my dad made the effort over and over again to show them love and kindness and forgiveness. My dad always put my sisters and mom and I as first priority. He worked very hard to provide for us, and we wanted for nothing.

My dad loves the ocean and the beach. We didn’t grow up in a coastal state but always vacationed on the shore. He knew how to just sit and listen to the waves or Bob Dylan and chill.

My dad loves Christmas. As his health started really declining almost a month ago, one of the first things he wanted done was to have his tree put up so that he could enjoy it for one last season.

My dad is cool. He has a strut. He is a music snob. He has a wicked and irreverent sense of humor. He is a smart ass. He loves passionately and deeply.

I will miss my dad. I already do. I only hope that I can pass on to Edie some of these great things that he gave to me. I hope that some day, she will have a similar list when she writes about her Papa’s legacy.

Edit: Dad died on February 19th, 2019 at home alone. We are still in the early stages of grief and it can be brutal. He IS missed. Now, to work on my own legacy with more intention and love.