I am a working father. Worse even, I am a postdoc and a father. A postdoc is like a graduate student - chained to their work, but worse - you don't get any points just for trying anymore. You have graduated - it is time to get RESULTS! Nothing matters but results - and journal articles. Really, only journal articles. Actually, journal articles where you are first author. Nothing else really matters.
Except, I am married with kids. Little people who fawn over me, adore me, loving me to the bottom of their souls. Little people who just want to play with their dad, sit in his lap, have him pay attention to them. And you know what, I love them so much. I adore every little drawing they make, every rock they give me, every silly story they tell me. I love that they love me. I love that they love to be with me.
So, in honor of them, I write this piece. This is inspired by the hilarious women over at Rants from Mommyland who have a whole series of Domestic Enemies articles. They are awesome, hilarious, and truthful. You should read them!
I present to you the domestic enemies of the working dad.
I am the primary parent who handles daycare. I get them ready in the morning, I drop them off, I pick them up, It is the situation our family is in. BW works across the bridge-tunnel. Yes you hear right - it is both a bridge and a tunnel under the water. Yes, it gets annoying to be the one 'on call' all the time. But I also get to be the one to get that last hug and kiss, to be the first one to see them after daycare. But what annoys me are the Daycare Mommies. You know, the ones who think it is just "so CUTE that Daddy is in charge of doing the daycare thing. And oh my, you even did your daughter's hair, well isn't that just so special?" You know what, just because I have a penis doesn't mean I am not a full-time parent. Yes, I dress them and do their hair. I have a daughter and that means I have to do the pigtails or braids or whatever she wants that day. (Or what I decide is feasible with the nanoseconds left before we have to leave). Why does it matter if it is Mom or Dad who does this? And no, their mother is not sick or taking the day off - I do this 5 times a week, 52 weeks a year. Just shut up already. Please.
I love my kids and if I could, I would not send them to daycare. Or let me rephrase that. I would not send them to daycare everyday.** So, when you the daycare teachers schedule a party every other week along with a freaking field trip every month - I get annoyed. Yes my job is flexible. But no, I don't get vacation time. Sorry, not in the postdoc world. So, I REALLY don't want to hear how EVERYONE else's Mom (or Dad) is going to the circus. Why the hell am I paying you to take me and my kid to the circus? So, no, I cannot always just drop everything and stop by in the middle of the afternoon for an hour or two for your special "Springtime Under the Sea" party. If I had extra time at work - I would LEAVE EARLY and take my kids home to hang out with me and play hide and seek or something fun...
Oh and nevermind trying to leave after the party to go back to work. Talk about extreme meltdown...
Car Service People
This is a big time pet peeve of mine... no, you cannot keep my car overnight. No, it is not possible. My wife works an hour away and I have to pick up the kids. If you don't fix my car we are stranded. Didn't I just tell you my wife works an HOUR AWAY. It is already 4pm. Nevermind traffic. GIVE ME MY CAR BACK.
If you are going to call a meeting, at least accomplish SOMETHING. I don't have time to waste chit-chatting about your weekend. Let's get to work.
And sorry, no, I cannot stay late EVERY day this week. I have to pick up my kids. No I cannot come out to dinner tonight to enjoy an adult evening with our latest guest speaker - I have to feed the kids and make sure they don't throw their whole dinner off the end of the table or spill the whole gallon of milk. Yes, I would rather have some great chef prepare a 3 course meal than to ask my 2 year old daughter for the 20th time to please CHEW AND SWALLOW THAT BROCCOLI!.
And yes, I know you cannot even fathom having two kids and being a postdoc... because you don't have kids... and no, I don't know how I do it either.
Well, yes I do know how I do it. With lots of help from my wife, lots of laughter and a good sense of what matters to me, and two giggly little kids who make all the stress disappear every day.
**I think daycare is a great thing. Firstly, kids get to hang with other kids. BW and I don't have a ton a friends with kids the same age as our kids. Our neighborhood is filled with old people, so the kids get their peer interactions at daycare. That is an important thing. Second, it teaches children to take orders from someone other than their parents. This is important also! Kids are going to have to learn to listen to a teacher at some point so starting early is good. Oh yeah, there is also the parental sanity point to be made. Getting some time away from the kids is good too.