I thought as Piper got older, things would get easier; however, nothing could be further from the truth. As much work as it was taking care of her as a baby, she would nap five times a day—at least in the beginning. I’d gladly take five breaks a day at this point. As she became a crawler and a toddler, each stage had its own needs, but I was still somehow able to get chores done and stay sane. But now that she is of pre-school age, times are tough. She seems to need much more attention than ever before. With no siblings in the house, I have to be her playmate all day every day. Which can be fun, but again, no breaks. And the fact that now she wakes up before I do only makes matters worse.
It used to be that my wife would leave for work, then Piper would sleep in until about 8 AM every morning. I would have time to compose myself and get ready for the day. That’s when I did most of my writing for Game Rant. In contrast, now the kid gets up at 5 AM or 6 AM every day, and believe me, she hits the ground running. And she doesn’t nap any more, so I’m basically with her every waking moment of the day—with no breaks.
It takes so much energy to get through the day now, and everything is more difficult than it has to be. Something that should take two or three simple steps now takes twenty steps. An easy task that should only take about ten minutes to accomplish now takes an hour and a half. Sometimes she is literally clinging to my legs as I try to put the laundry away. If I had enough hair I would be pulling it out.
For instance, we had to go to the store this morning. I noticed that Piper’s hair was tangled, so I told her I had to brush it. This turned into her taking the brush from me and brushing her hair by herself in the mirror for at least twenty minutes. This was followed by me getting kicked in the face as I tried to put her shoes on. Then we had to find her princess dolls. How silly of me—I thought we could just simply run an errand and get something done.
As I write this, now I’m thinking, “I should go look out the window and check on the car, to see if I shut the doors and locked it after I took out all the groceries, TWO HOURS AGO.”
It’s like being trapped in an endless cycle of frustration; but now it’s based on more than just a selfish need to have time to myself. I know that Piper has evolved beyond a point where I can give her the attention that she needs. Sure, I can simply “pay more attention” to her, but it’s more complicated than that. There is an urgency to get her into school now. She needs structure, organized projects, recess and playtime. She needs a teacher to be another role model for her, and a class of kids to be her friends and playmates. Even if we started going out to more parents groups and playdates, it wouldn’t be the same as starting a dedicated pre-school program. We’re so close, but we’re still working on potty training and working out the details. It’s like seeing the light at the end of the tunnel, but you can’t move a muscle—as if in a dream when everything slows down to a crawl.
I also fear that the more I stay at home, the more I will have to stay at home. Though for financial reasons I will have to find work soon, I’m afraid of being “mommy-tracked.” Hey, I know business is business, but I still don’t think I should be discriminated against. When I disclose that I have been a stay-at-home parent all this time, I know that every single man (and most of the women) who are doing the interviewing will nod their head and look pleased, but silently think to themselves, “Oh great, you haven’t been doing anything for almost four years. And even if I did hire you, your kid will just get in the way of your work.” From a business standpoint, American society doesn’t really respect stay-at-home parenting, not from what I’ve experienced. Even worse, though it’s accepted that women can stay at home when the baby arrives, men who stay at home are simply perceived as “not working.” All in all, this doesn’t bode well for the job search looming on my horizon. Although I feel the pressure, I can’t let myself get too distracted from taking care of my girl. She’s too important. I’ll just have to cross that bridge when I find it. It would be a lot simpler if more people could understand how much work the job of being a stay-at-home parent really is.
So yes, parenting is tough, and kids won’t let you get an edge if they can help it, and society is not always on your side. So if things are that bad, how can we survive this parenting game? All I can say is: get up early every day, work super hard, and hit the ground running.