Tag Archives: Caregiver

The Most Important Job

I still haven’t figured out how to answer the question.

When we meet someone for the first time, one of the initial questions of the getting-to-know-you phase is this: What do you do?

By that, we’re asking what the other person does for a living. What is their job? Strangely, we, as a society, tend to define people by what they do, rather than what they enjoy, or who they are. While I’m sure there’s another whole post in this somewhere, I’m more focused this time around on what the answer to that question really is when it’s directed at me or people like me.

See, as might have been obvious sometime in the last six years, I’m a stay-at-home dad. For the past 14 years, I stayed home being the principal caregiver to our three boys while my wife, known to me as She Who Must Be Bringing Home The Bacon Etc., worked outside the house.

For us, it wasn’t even a question what would be happening when we had kids. We both believed that kids would benefit from having a parent at home. She’s a doctor, which meant her first paycheck as the lowliest of doctors (an intern) was far more than what I was making at the top of my pay grade as an information specialist for the state of Florida. Yeah, no question I was staying home.

Now, I’m pretty cool with the idea of a woman making more money than I do. Just like it doesn’t matter that she beats me at H.O.R.S.E. every time we play. (Of course, in a real one-on-one game, I thrash her without hesitation.) She’s just a better set shooter than I am. I’ve been beaten by girls in races and never worried but for one thing: A person was faster than me. The gender of the victor didn’t matter. Same thing here.

But, apparently, it does matter to some people.

When I’m meeting people for the first time and I tell them that I’m a stay-at-home dad, I get responses that vary in the specifics, but all contain the same condescension.

“Oh, that’s so wonderful.”

“You’re so lucky to stay at home.”

“That’s such a hard job and so important.”

“I don’t know how you do it.”

And, worst of all, “Good for you. You should be proud of that.”

It’s a good thing none of these people are playing poker for a living, or are actors, because, dudes, they just can’t pull it off. In their eyes, in the tone of their voice, in the way they subtly lean back away from me as if they’re afraid stay-at-home-itis is catching. . .

In their eyes, there’s something deeply wrong with what I’ve done for the past 14 years. In their eyes, it’s easy to read what they’re thinking: “Thank God it’s not me.”

I realize that moms in my position also are getting something similar from other women. Staying at home, either for a man or a woman, can be a controversial choice to some people.

Men, I think, might get it a bit worse. Because we’re supposed to be the breadwinners, the ones who work outside the house. I’ve even been asked, “Doesn’t it bother you being the woman?” and “Does she let you wear shoes and leave the kitchen?”

Okay, yes, those were extreme examples and they might have said they were kidding, but there is that old saying about there being more truth in jest.

Over the years, just to avoid arguments in a pleasant setting, I’ve begun telling people I work from home instead of stay home. And, yes, that won’t be a problem much longer as I’m moving back into the outside work force as Hyper Lad grows older.

But, still, shouldn’t staying at home — whether because of a money issue or that you’re just more at ease taking care of kids — be a valid choice for any person, male or female?

There were a (very) few times in the beginning when I felt resentful that I wasn’t working every day at a newspaper, which had been my dream. But then I would look on my napping sons, or hear them laugh, and realize it’s possible to have more than one dream, to find and follow a new dream.

A man or woman choosing to stay at home to rear a child is a valid choice, dudes and dudettes. Respect that.

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Devices Won’t Protect Kids From Being Left In Car

by Richard

In this country, almost 40 kids each year die when inattentive parents leave the little dudes and dudettes strapped inside a car during the hot weather after the adults/parents leave.

It’s a nightmare scenario – a parent returns to his or her car after a day at work or even a short time running errands to find an unconscious child strapped into the car seat. Most times, the parent thought he or she dropped the child off with a caregiver, or left the child with someone else. Even on a relatively cool day, the temperatures in a car can soar, and babies have died in as little as an hour.

NHTSA says 527 children have died of heat stroke after being left in cars since 1998, or about 38 every year. “In 2011, 33 such cases were reported,” NHTSA said in a statement, citing Jan Null of San Francisco State University, who tracks the reports.

“We aren’t only talking about the 98 degree day when you leave your child for eight hours while you are at work,” said Dr. Kristy Arbogast of The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, who led the research. “This can happen very quickly.”

I’m not condemning these parents. I’m sure they didn’t mean to leave their children in the car, or not for as long as it happened. The folks who left their kids in the car with the car off while they ran an errand, I have less sympathy for just because of their idiocy. As the adults, we have to start thinking ahead. We have to plan for the worst so we can avoid it. Which means we’ve got to get our minds in the game.

To help with that, a number of companies are coming out with devices that are supposed to help remind adults that they have a child in the backseat. Too bad they don’t work worth beans.

Special seats and other devices designed to help prevent parents from accidentally leaving babies and toddlers behind in cars don’t work well, a team of experts said on Monday. They said parents shouldn’t rely on them to keep children safe.

Their review of 18 commercial devices, including systems integrated into a car, shows none works well enough to rely on.

“While these devices are very well-intended, none of them are a full or complete solution for making sure a parent never leaves a baby behind in a hot car,” David Strickland, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), told reporters in a conference call.

Instead, we’re told, parents need to “layer” behavior into their driving habits that will help to remind them of the child they carry. For instance, put a teddy bear or other toy in the front seat, or habitually keep your briefcase or purse in the backseat next to the little dude. That way, when you see the toy, or reach for the briefcase, you’ll remember you have a very quiet child back there.

There’s more at the link, but I’m not sure how necessary it is. Get your mind in the game. Stay focused on your responsibility and you should be fine.

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Thank A Veteran

by Richard

Today, in America, we celebrate Veteran’s Day. This is the day we set aside to honor those of our fellow countrymen and women who have served time as part of our armed forces.

What with the wars in Afghanistan and in Iraq, as well as in various hotspots around the globe, we’ve owe more than ever to those past and present members of the Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy, Coast Guard and National Guard.

While we’re celebrating all of those who served today, I’d like to set aside a couple of minutes to talk about those who gave even more. Thanks to advances in battlefield medical technology, we’re seeing more soldiers returning alive but seriously wounded from service abroad.

Which gives us the opportunity to help them. Just quickly google assistance and veteran and you’ll find plenty of organizations dedicated to helping our troops. I’d like to highlight a couple here to which you might want to donate.

Fisher House is an organization dedicated to providing “comfort homes,” built on the grounds of major military and VA medical centers. These homes enable family members to be close to a loved one at the most stressful times – during the hospitalization for an unexpected illness, disease, or injury.

The Wounded Warrior Project provides a number of services to the returning wounded and their families, including benefits counseling, caregiver retreats, family support and peer mentoring.

The USO is a nonprofit, congressionally chartered private organization that provides innumerable services to our troops, either on active duty or on leave. In addition to the well-known entertainments the organization puts on overseas, the USO does things as simple and powerful as welcoming home troops who arrive in airports all over the country, something my father-in-law (himself a veteran of the Marines) does almost every week.

Take some time and provide some support, dudes. If you can’t get out and do the work yourself, you can easily donate some money to help out these and other worthy organizations.

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