Stay-at-home Chicago dad: Transitioning back to work

If you’re one of the six people who read this blog, then you may remember that back in June, Dad All Day went from being a work-from-home-dad to a working dad.

It wasn’t a decision that was made lightly. I cherished the time I had with my kids at home. That being said, this was the job I always wanted, at the place I have always wanted to work, with the team I have always wanted, and the project I have always wanted to take on.

It was my dream job.

Many of you were congratulatory and helped me along as I transitioned from working at home to working at an office, with adults, who don’t wear pajama pants all day or say “potty.”

To say it’s hard transitioning from early morning cuddles and play dates to gridlock traffic and morning meeting is an understatement. In my heart, I know the decision I made was the best for my family at this time in our lives, and in the end it will pay off for all of us.

As I re-learned my way around a PowerPoint deck and Excel spreadsheet, something weird began to happen to my “blogger world,” DAD started getting hate mail. Not just a few, but a lot of hate mail, un-friending and un-liking of my fan page. After a year of writing about everything from how to clean your toilet with your sock to the redefining of oral sex, DAD was stymied. What did I do to get people into such an uproar?

Simple answer: I went back to work. “Sell out, jerk, hypocrite” were just a few of the PG names that I was called for making the decision to go back to work. One note asked, “How could you turn against your brothers and go back to work abandoning your kids like this? You suck.” And on and on.

One of the pieces of advice I give to new bloggers (and Jay Cutler if he was asking) is “Don’t read the comments.” Which is a bunch of crap because as you know, it’s like saying “Don’t think of Cookie Monster”: 3-2-1, there he is.

I wanted to ignore the comments and haters, but the voice started to creep in. “Maybe they are right? Maybe I shouldn’t be Dad All Day anymore, maybe I should kill the blog.” Which is what essentially happened, from June to mid-September, DAD started to write less and less as the doubt crept deeper and deeper into his blogger soul.

I am not a Dad All Day. I did leave my kids at home with a nanny as I took off into the world of working men and women. I leave early on some days and get home late on others. I travel. I did become a “sellout jerk to the cause.”

Then, I met “Nice Dad.” Nice Dad came up to me in the parking lot of my sons’ school and said “Aren’t you that writer?” My initial instinct was to lie and walk away. I didn’t need another person blowing a hole in my ego. Before I could answer, “Nice Dad” continued, “I enjoy the way you write. It’s not easy to be a man and share some of the things you share. You are not afraid to show the truth about parenting or share exactly how you feel.”

I was floored. As Nice Dad and I continued to talk, I shared my anxiety with him about working and leaving the kids and he shared his thoughts with me: “The hardest thing I do every day is go to work, but I know I am doing it for the betterment of my kids. When I get home, I give them everything I have, attention, love, you name it. Is it exhausting, yes, but that’s the commitment I made to them and it’s something I hold sacred. I am Dad All Day, you are Dad All Day. You don’t stop being a dad when you leave the house, you leave the house because you are a good dad.”

Boom! I am always a dad to my kids. Hell, if they weren’t around, I would be living on a boat in the Bahamas with my ninth wife, Kate Upton, playing the guitar and being pretty darn clueless.  My wife doesn’t stop being a mom when she goes to work. We are parents, all the time, all day, all night. Doesn’t matter where you go or what you do.

Even when I was a stay-at-home-dad, I didn’t believe in “that cause” of stay-at-home-dads, it’s not an “us against them” scenario as many people like to make it. The cause I have always believed in is the cause of being great parents, whatever definition of that word means to you and your family. That has never changed.

In the past few months, I have met more and more nice dads; some work at home, some are on the road all the time, some I work with. All of them do their best to make sure they are the best possible parents they can be, which is something I respect.

So, this being my last blog for Chicago Parent (sob) I am here to let you know I am Dad All Day. Nothing will ever change that. When all 189 of my kids finally move out, I will still be their dad. Though I am leaving here, you can always find me at dadallday.net or dambloggers.com.

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