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Eric Myers' Man of the House: My Child Was In Irritation

Eric Myers • Nov 19, 2013 at 3:24 PM

If you were to ask my wife Cindy how I've progressed as a parent and a

father over these years that I've been the at-home caregiver, or even

if I’ve progressed, I think she would smile and say, “He’s come a long


And I would agree. I think I have come a long way. But, the ability

to say that comes only from knowing where you’ve been. There is also

the subtle inference with that statement that where you started, where

you’ve come from, is not as good as where you are now. And I would

agree with that also. There may be several men or at-home caregivers

who may be where I was, so I think it's important to take a brief moment

to explain.

Quite simply, I started out as an at-home caregiver by necessity’s

choice. Cindy and I made the choice for me to enroll in seminary and

for me to stay at home with our daughter Caroline, who was 1. For me,

the choice was to attend seminary – which automatically necessitated

that I be with Caroline. Would I have made the decision to stay at home

with Caroline if I had not made the career change? No. I was not

looking forward to being at home with Caroline but rather was looking

forward to being a seminary student and working toward my degree goal.

The time I spent with Caroline was time I had to spend with her. My

noble contribution to my family was enduring Caroline until I graduated.

So, in a subtle way I resented her. Being with her was time which

took away from my schoolwork. I resented the messes I had to clean, the

diapers I had to change, the time I had to spend on the floor playing

with her, and the stroller walks through the neighborhood. The temper

tantrums, the crying and the fussy moments were harder to take calmly

because this was a kid I already wasn’t focused on enjoying. I would’ve

rather been somewhere else doing something else. In fact, nap time was

the brightest part of my day. I looked forward to nap time because she

was an awesome sleeper and that offered me large chunks of time to do

what I wanted to be doing. I can sum up my emotional and mental

attitude succinctly this way: she was an irritation, an imposition, a

hindrance, and a duty.

As you might imagine there was a subtle tension in our home. Now,

add to this the other things I have written about, those things that

make doing the at-home role challenging anyway: isolation, loneliness,

and (for a man) exclusion, and you’ve got yourself a recipe for

potential disaster. You know things aren’t in a good place when you

look forward to your spouse coming home every day not to see them, but

so they can take over the childcare. That was where I was. That was my

staring place.

You might say I had nowhere to go but up! But, as often happens,

your new “normal” sets in and establishes patterns and habits which take

time to break, so I moved sideways for awhile before changes began to

happen. It takes significant events to create change in those

environments. What were mine? I will share them with you over the next

several weeks. If you’re a parent who can relate to what I have

written here, if you’re stuck in the crazy cycle, be encouraged……you can

find your way back!

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