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

May 3rd, 2013 4:19 pm by Eric Myers

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

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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