May 13, 2009

Play-at-home Dad

In the last two writings, I've boldly declared myself (and most of us) to be fractured and frittering on the computer, and connected and mindful on the farm. But what about parenting - how present and intentional and fulfilled and in-the-moment am I with my children?

I realize I'm still in the process of deprogramming, ridding my body and soul of the toxins of over-achievement and pressure to perform. When I'm with the boys, there's still a voice in my head saying that I could be "doing" something. I still constantly ask myself what i've Accomplished this day, or even this hour, instead of asking Who i've been, how i've interacted, how i've felt, how i've affected those around me. Still need to learn to value being more than doing, relations more than achievements.

As the primary stay-at-home parent, the temptation is still to try to do too much. Housework, farming, reno's, writing, volunteering - so many things can get in the way of the one most important thing that I have devoted this part of my life to: my children. This time away from career was and is primarily to spend more quality time with my children, at a time when they are fully open and available for such devoted loving in this style.

True, cooking a good meal, creating a good garden, and keeping an orderly household is part of that parenting, especially if they can be involved in it, or at least witness it as positive modelling. But there has to be equal or even great value placed on times when I'm doing nothing but playing with my kids, exploring, holding, marvelling with them. Why is it so easy to feel fulfilled by finishing the deer fence or cutting the lawn, but to feel somehow remiss or even lazy to say I spent an hour playing with our castle set?

So, I officially QUIT as a stay-at-home dad. I am now a play-at-home dad. I hope that tomorrow night, I can look back on the day with satisfaction and fulfillment and say, "Today, I cooked some healthy meals, played some fun games, pulled some weeds with the boys, and put them to bed with smiles on all our faces." That's not just "enough"; that's everything.

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