Dad About Town
Photographs: Garvin Burke
I am an anomaly. In the waiting room at the Center Stage Dance Studio on High Ridge, I’m the parent who never hides the fact that he didn’t shave his legs. At the Grade A on a late weekday morning, I’m the shopper comparing canned soups who is not yet eligible for Social Security. At parties, I’m the guy in the kitchen swapping guacamole recipes instead of fantasy football draft picks.
This is my role, my life. I am a stay-at-home dad; hear me roar about removing stubborn grass stains from my son’s baseball pants.
I chose this rarely traveled path willingly, just as I chose—after years of longing to leave—to return to my hometown of Stamford in 2004. All right, the latter decision was also made by my wife, she of the corporate executive mind-set and, thankfully, paycheck. We came back in full force, with three children—girl, boy and Labrador retriever. The party never stops at our house, and that’s why I’m there, to referee.
Only 3.4 percent of at-home parents in the United States have, like me, a mismatched set of gender chromosomes. That’s amazingly more than double the number a decade ago, though the economic damage of the mortgage and housing crisis greatly assisted our rapid growth. Yet we are Team XY—all 176,000 of us—the few, the proud, the men you never say are “babysitting” because, folks, the word is “parenting.”
While I am one who found himself on both the leading edge of the Great Recession and the New Frontier of Fatherhood, all with a single pink slip, I never saw it as a demotion. My days brim with constant challenges…and trips in the minivan to the schools, the ball fields, the doctors’ (human and canine variety), the stages, the stores. But it’s not all schlepping; it’s teaching, be it by explaining why I always refer to that building as Humphrey’s variety store even though the sign says different, or showing my daughter how to upgrade software in her iPhone.
So sure, I get a touch nostalgic about places and people gone from my childhood hometown, but I’m one who rarely refers to that time as the “good ol’ days.” The best days in Stamford are the ones in which you live in the present, fully, acknowledging the past but always looking forward to future progress. That’s how I try to raise my family. When their faces aren’t buried in their laptops, of course.
So come along for the ride as we navigate this suburb together in the months ahead. Like me, you’ll find it a little different.