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The Working Stay-at-Home Dad

Fudge man, working till 11 p.m., having to get up at around 8 to look after the kids (not a terrible time to have to wake up, granted), and then going back in at 2 the next day,


Let me just say this: I want a 9 to 5. A steady schedule. I mean, I've got a steady schedule now, meaning it's the same from week to week because my boss has been cool like that, but with the kids every day, and the trying to find a job related to my communication degree, and doing this social media volunteer gig, it's tough.


Looking Back, A Critique of Self

The very title of this blog describes holding onto something that might naturally die: my ‘metalhood.’

Shame and a sort of mild disgust fill me when I look back on my posts. Though specific examples momentarily elude me, it’s happened too many times to be trifling. My reactions to my past RMTD writings can be boiled down to this: the attitude was too negative.

What is it I’m trying to retain, my overrated youth, my immaturity, my foolish anger, my weaker moments, my failures? Metal music is about raging against the system, and being a good parent requires going along with the system—that of tried and true parenting practices, evolutionarily honed and scientifically learned.

The writing was all wrong, and the concept of metal parenting is antithetical. Metal music is mostly obnoxious. I want to turn it all around. Somehow. I have some options, including changing this blog’s name, or starting over with a new one.

Let’s look at how it all started, this Retaining Metalhood Through Dadhood blog.

The year was 2009, and I had just had my first kid. She was amazing, a quite medium-mannered baby, with no health problems. Now me, I am usually a medium-mannered person, albeit a bit animated at times, but I admit now I was a quite a protective dad, treating my new child at times like a very breakable porcelain doll than the strong little skinny human she is (anyone who saw me toss her in the air to her delight may disagree). I would have dreams where I tossed her up and didn’t catch her, of her hitting the ground after a hard fall, and I’d wake up in a panic, instantly sitting up in bed. I’d constantly be worried about her hurting herself irreparably if she was out of my sight for a single minute. Maybe that was part of why it took her three years to start playing in her room by herself?

She would cry every time I went to the bathroom until she was around five months old. My choices, in my mind, were to either hurry thru it as best I could, or take her in there with me. What I did not realize is that a little infant baby can indeed be left alone for bits of time, say for parental bathroom breaks, and will learn not to cry so much eventually, and that, most importantly, I needed not stress about it as I did.

Around seven months of age, Megan and I were still getting up to get her out of the crib every time she cried at night, which was happening more and more often, which we were invariably conditioning her to think was acceptable. When we read that after six months of age a baby is capable of understanding that if the parents don’t come every time she cries it won’t erode her trust in us, we changed our behavior and within a few days she started sleeping the whole night through.

What I did not realize was how much the parents shape the child. Children learn by example. It’s really up to the parents to model behaviors they want their children to adopt. Also, I was 27 years old. I had no idea about anything, other than that you have to work to survive. Career-wise, a bachelor’s degree seemed more and more like a distant, unreachable goal the closer I got. When Megan and I conceived, I was on my third college with lots of momentum, in Bellingham, while she lived in Seattle. Naturally I quit school to raise my kid and be with my woman after quite an emotionally difficult year apart.

When Lucy was born, Megan and I lived in a one-bedroom apartment on the third floor of an old, slightly smelly apartment building in Seattle, with a living room window facing Roosevelt, a bus stop bringing buses to a noisy stop just below during the day. The black roof of the short building just outside the adjacent window reflected heat back at us during the summer months. Megan stayed home for three months, healing from her cesarean section, while I worked part-time. Then she started working again, and I was on my own with a baby forty hours per week.

Though we were poor, stressed, and had no social lives, things were happening at home, little things. When kids grow up they go through milestones and if you miss them, they’re irretrievable. I wanted a writing outlet to have these memories recorded, and also to keep my writing practice up. Hence, the idea of creating a blog seemed the way to go. At the time, I was going through a metal resurgence, playing a lot of it on guitar and writing songs in that style, inspired by early Metallica and Megadeth, my personal favorites. And I had this notion that having kids makes people lose their edge, that cool parents abandon cool stuff and start enjoying Michael Bolton, Coldplay and U2.

That’s why the name Retaining Metalhood Through Dadhood seemed right for me. I was still a metal guy, but I wasn’t angry. I just like really loud, distorted, fast guitar lines that are rhythmically complex. It’s exciting to me. Perhaps a name change is not the way to go for this blog. Perhaps it can be saved. It’s all in what you put into it, right? A person is a collection of their experiences, and a blog is a collection of writings, nothing more. Perhaps the answer is to fix it by making future writings more positive, to update more often with good posts that will eventually overshadow the rest.

It is not surprising to me that my parenting skills were at zero those five years ago, but when I look back on it, I always think I could have made better choices. But then I think of how my kids don’t have wherewithal now, that humans grow on a continuum, and that there is never a light switch flicked that signals a skip from one age to another, further down the road. There is no way to learn quickly, or to fold space and skip the embarrassing moments. Life seems to occur one lesson at a time. So can I blame myself for my less-favored choices, for my parenting failures? Were they indeed failures if they amounted to a learning experience for me? My daughter has always been stronger than I realize, and she’s okay now, as far as I know, despite my perceived missteps along the way.

As a 32-year-old father of two, I’m more experienced and mellow—not perfect, but better. I trust my children and myself more. We have daily arguments, and sometimes I think I’m a dick tater, but then I tell myself that I’m here every day with them, I make money for them, clean up their messes, and still find time to entertain them. I use positive reinforcement, and I encourage intelligence and talents over beauty. With all that in mind, my kids can stay under my yoke and do everything I tell them. It’s a pretty sweet deal, really.

I’ve decided. I’ll keep the blog. Metal rules. Parenting rules. The two concepts don’t have to be antithetical together; they can be what I make them.