Dumber? More dumb? I am not even sure how you are supposed to say it, that is what my editorwife is for. In four years I should be ready to head back into the workforce, back to teaching kids art, if it still exists in public schools. I am more than a little scared to go back. I suppose most of us who had careers before becoming stay at home parents have felt this way.
Maybe it is because I am around the kids all day instead of being challenged by my peers, trying to have an intelligent conversations while scarfing down cafeteria food in the 20 minute lunch break I used to have.
Maybe it is because I spend more time explaining why one shouldn’t put things in the toilet that don’t belong there. Or maybe it is because most days I feel like I am putting out fire after fire and don’t know if going back to the classroom will be any different.
Does this lack of stimulation delay your brain’s ability to function at a high level? I am not sure but dealing with diapers, snacks, and playdates isn’t exactly the kind of stimulation I used to get.
Staying at home presents its own challenges. You have to think quickly on your feet, you have to be patient, and you have to be tough yet nurturing. This is exactly the way I was in my classroom.
Most of the Stay At Home Dads that I know were doing something before they became the primary caregiver of their children. Most of them had some sort of passion that fell by the wayside. For some it was music, a hobby they loved, their photography.
For me, it was my art. I don’t even know if I could pick up a pencil and draw like I used to anymore. Is it like riding a bike? Maybe I am too chickenshit to find out for sure. Recently, on my Facebook page, I posted an image that I drew of Chris Cornell when I was in college.
I don’t even know if the artist that drew that is still in me or not. I am hoping he is and that I can pull him back out again. Part of me, and this is the part that is staying at home, feels that that guy is lost somewhere inside me. Am I crazy to think this way, or does everyone feel this? When people ask me if I miss teaching I can honestly say that I do.
Staying at home was a shift from teaching everyone else’s kids to focusing solely on mine. While staying at home has made me feel much closer to my kids, I have lost an important part of me in the process. I suppose that is where the sacrifice of self comes in.
I still do artwork, mostly with the kids, but they are at the ages where their attention span doesn’t last long. If I needed time to work on something it would have to be at night so that means giving up a night to work on it. Problem is, most nights I don’t feel like sitting down to draw. The fear manifests itself in my lack of work from 2008 until today.
When or if I go back to work I will have to rely on my old stuff. Will that cut it? An artist who is not continually evolving doesn’t stand out. Despite my frame, this may be a time where that no longer happens.
I suppose it is about priorities. While raising the kids and staying at home is rewarding you don’t have the performance reviews, bonuses, and accolades that you might get from a job outside of the home. Is your spouse showering you with praise the same as a review from your department head? Am I still the same guy I once was?
It’s time for me to rededicate myself to my first love. Art. Do you set aside time every night to reconnect with your old self? I sure don’t. After spending the day chasing a kid who doesn’t want to potty train but likes to pee on the floor and feeding my five year old daughter, who may or may not have three stomachs every five minutes, I would much rather watch mindless TV and slowly empty my DVR of its contents.
It’s not even New Years but I am going to make a resolution. I am going to avoid losing my artist self by dedicating time to my art again. So instead of sitting in front of a screen and finding out what other people are up to, I am going to sit down at my drafting table and find out how I am doing.