I have “daddy issues.”
Not the kind of daddy issues that might lead me down an ill-fated career path as a pole-dancer, mind you. I just dance on poles to stay in shape. No, I’ve got a whole different set of daddy issues. My issues are covered in bouillabaisse of nine-day-old Cheerios and washable marker and spit-up…and California Baby Products. They’re called Stay-at-home-daddy issues.
These new kinds of daddy issues have arisen from an all-too-common back story. A back story that, in this new economic Dagobah we’re living in, has become sadly cliché. It was a Friday morning in early February of this year. I sauntered in to the main office area of the small DME (Durable Medical Equipment) company that I worked for. The same way I had sauntered in every weekday for the past five and a half plus years. I am a big fan of sauntering. As I began to break the seal on another fresh batch of witty banter and general Woodrow morning goodness with my co-workers, I got the vibe from our receptionist that something was up. She soon relayed to us that our company owner wanted to have a “meeting” with all of us first thing that morning. We weren’t really a “morning meeting” kind of operation, so needless to say I was on edge.
Now I had been with the company long enough to notice that we were struggling. I had thought that, if things didn’t start to turn around, there was a chance we may not make it past another year. With that being said, I can honestly say I thought we’d make it past 5:30 that evening! My boss, however, informed us otherwise. The company was folding effective immediately.
A good friend of mine and I have a classification system set up to describe getting kicked in the nards. There is your standard, level one, swift-kick in the nuts. The next step up is what we have for years called the “double-tap.” This is where the gonad assailant goes in for the kick with a loose foot, causing an initial strike with the heart of the foot, followed by an immediate, reactionary second strike from the toe region. For those of us who’ve had the misfortune of being double-tapped, you know the greater pain is not in the Spauldings themselves (which is substantial), but rather the shooting pain that runs up from your pelvis to your stomach. It was that exact feeling that was coursing through my body as the gravity of losing my job began to set in.
I began to think about my wife Justine. She was five-months pregnant with our second child. Fortunately she had a good job, and our insurance went through her, but how would she handle the news? What about our plans? The idea was once the second child was born we would pull our two-year old son, Emerson, out of daycare and she would stay home with the kids. Money would be tight, but considering the cost of daycare for two kids and her true desire to be home with our little ones, we would make it work. Now we were going to have to call a timeout, scrap the playbook, and draw-up a new play in the dirt where my job once stood.
Little did I know, in those excruciating moments, I was about to voyage into the murky abyss that is the realm of the stay-at-home-dad…