I am the greatest Super Mario Bros. player in the world. Seriously. I never let go of the speed button. I can walk through a wall to get to the negative world. I can accumulate so many extra lives, that the number is represented by blocks of ice. Now that you’re convinced that I’m the greatest Italian Stallion plumber with a killer mustache, I’ll tell you how I got there.
I hit the reset button. A lot.
In my daily playing to become the greatest in the world, I had to set high standards. If I didn’t get the first set of coins and blocks, kill the Goomba and get big with the mushroom all within a few simple jumps, I hit the reset button. When I practiced slapping the turtle around in 3-1 to get all the extra lives, I hit the reset button. If I did not save the Princess without warping OR dying, I hit the reset button. I hit the reset button a lot. And that was ok. It made me the greatest player in the world.
When I became a stay-at-home dad, the weirdest thing I missed was my commute to work. I took those 45 minutes to plan my day in my head, start a to-do list, and make phone calls to my restaurants to touch base. On the way home, it was Beastie Boys for a good day and Metallica for a bad one. By the time I got home, I felt like work was out of my system and I could focus on The Wife and The Understudy.
As a stay-at-home dad, there is no commute. There are no “couple of cups of coffee” before you’re already knee deep in crap. Literally. When you are a stay-at-home dad, it is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week job. Albeit, the greatest job in the world, it doesn’t come without bumps and bruises. All of a sudden, it all made sense; being a stay-at-home dad was like being a master Super Marioer.
Let’s get serious here. I wasn’t eating mushrooms to get big and walk through walls. (I did enough of that in college.) Like in Mario Bros., I had to accept that I was going to make mistakes. A lot of them. Nothing life threatening, but I knew that I had to learn from the experience and get better the next time. More importantly, sometimes I needed to hit that reset button and get out of the house to gain some perspective… and eat cookies in peace.
No one can be submersed in something 24/7 without losing some individuality and sense of self. Being a parent, you sacrifice yourself for your kids. I have not been doing this long, but the word around the playground is that at some point, stay-at-home parents hit a breaking point. They can’t take one more lost opportunity to poo by themselves. They can’t take the dirty dishes mocking them like Bowser jumping up and down spitting fire and throwing hammers. They need a break! And that’s ok!!!
There are many ways that I hit the reset button. Sometimes when The Wife gets home, I offer to run to the store to get a few things I forgot earlier in the day. Sometimes I need to get out-of-town with the boys. Most jobs have benefits like vacation time, right? I’m lucky and have a group of college buddies who like to meet once a year to stink up the same space for a couple of days. After all, Contra is best played in 2 player mode (with the code, of course). When I come back, I feel refreshed and re-energized, ready to attack my job with a clear head and more passion than ever.
The best way that I found was to find a dad group and become active within that group. First I found an Facebook group of stay-at-home dads and that lead me to a dad group in my area. I assumed The Understudy was too young for play-dates, but the other dads helped me learn that your child’s age does not matter, play-dates are just as much for you as they are for the kids. So, I went, and I found that it’s great getting to hang out with other dads and our kids. I also went to the dads’ night out events and met some awesome dads who have been a great resource for me.
Everybody’s situations are different, but what we all have in common is a passion and love for our family. We all want what’s best for them. If either parent gets to the end of their rope, it’s ok. Encourage them, embrace them and remind them there is a reset button.
Stay-at-Home Dad Lesson Learned:
I am not the greatest dad in the world. I am not the greatest stay-at-home dad in the world. I can’t hit the reset button as much as I did on my way to Super Mario greatness. However, I can still learn from my mistakes and get better. I’m getting involved in the stay-at-home dad community and when I need to, I reset. Then, I’m ready to pounce on turtles, break blocks and rescue the Princess from the evil Bowser. Don’t worry Princess, I’ll find you! I always do.
**Looking for the stay-at-home dad community?**
If you, or any dads you know, are looking for dad group in your area, the Map of Dad Groups is the place to find it. If you are in a dad group that isn’t on the map, please contact us so we can add you. You may not realize how hard it is to find a group when you are new in the community. If all of the dad groups were registered on one site, then every group would be easier to find.