Today was my daughter’s last day of preschool. She’s the younger of my two children, so this day marks the end of a major chapter of my life as a parent. From now on, I will have only “big kids” in school for the full day, from Kindergarten and beyond.
Since my son was born eight years ago I have been a Stay-At-Home-Dad, accompanying him (and later, his sister) through infancy, toddlerhood, preschool, and the transition to elementary school. When I’m not parenting I’m a musician and songwriter. While I’ve continued to record and perform occasionally, my full-time touring schedule has been curtailed for these past eight years in favor of diapering, feeding, playing, drawing, and exploring with my kids.
I’ve been invited to do a guest-blog here at Life Of Dad, so I’m pleased to share a song written about being a Stay-At-Home-Dad.
The song is called “List Of Things To Do” and I wrote it when my wife was pregnant with our first child. At the time I was psyching myself up for the deep sacrifices and deep rewards of full-time parenting. The lyrics are as true for me now as they were then. The song was written very quickly, and I captured the song immediately after completing it, recording four tracks of myself playing the parts: drums, vocals/guitar/harmonica, harmony vocals with electric guitar, and bass. It’s one of my favorite recordings that I’ve made, and the lo-fi first-take passes of each track capture the moment accurately.
Verse One and Chorus:
tune up the engine, polish the floor
dust the piano, fix the screen door
stop by the bank when I go into town
check my savings account
yeah, I got it down on my list of things to do
at the top of that list is me taking care of you
The mundane tasks of domestic life snap into focus when all one’s time is spent at home maintaining and monitoring the physical environment. Property upkeep and financial management can feel like a never-ending list of obligations. At the start of this song I sing that despite these necessary tasks, my ultimate commitment is to the nurturing of my child.
look for yourself, baby, you gotta see
you’re my number one priority
more than money or country or sound
nothing else matters as much
During my wife’s first pregnancy the nation was tuned in to the contentious Bush vs. Kerry presidential campaign of 2004. As I pondered the gravity of pending parenthood, all the political hubbub became much less significant. I felt connected to every father from across the world and across history. The love between parent and child transcends politics, geography and economics. I also included the word “sound” in this verse to represent my music career. My vocation brings me great satisfaction and I’m anxious to re-focus on it in the coming years, but I was deliberately making a choice to put my identity as a musician on the back burner.
don’t you don’t you don’t you worry
you can count on me
I don’t mind and I got time and I got energy
My wife and I became parents twelve years after we got married. After such a long time as a couple, we both felt like it was the right time to have children. Although I had heard about the difficulties of parenting, and was expecting those challenges, I felt like I had the time and personal fortitude to enter in to this new phase of life. My wife and I have always been thankful that we were able to orchestrate our pregnancy at a time of relative stability and health.
everyone’s busy, everyone’s tired
everyone’s manic, everybody’s wired
running their sanity into the ground
baby, I’ll keep it together
The demands of modern life are difficult to manage, even without children in the home. We had heard about and witnessed the impact of babies on marriages and personal lives, so we tried to set up effective support systems and resources for ourselves. My parents and in-laws provided a lot of assistance, despite being a seven hour drive from Minneapolis where we live. After our second child’s birth I struggled through a few years of paternal post-partum depression (I didn’t know that diagnosis existed until I found myself there…look it up!), but with my wife’s wonderful support I was able to get through those difficult times. This verse of the song was prescient, and thankfully I was able to “keep it together” amidst the unrelenting schedules and exhaustion that come with parenting babies and toddlers.
I’m gonna take good care…
At the top of that list is me taking care of you
My wife did the math on my years spent with the kids. She figures that a stay-at-home-parent spends at least 10,000 more hours with each child than a parent who works outside the home. She often uses that statistic as an encouragement to me, and it works! Yes, of course there are sacrifices to be made in order to stay at home, but I’m so thankful and glad to have done it. My children are mellow, flexible, fun, artistic, polite, and relaxed, and my wife adores me for being at home with them. The kids and I have had tons of spontaneous adventures, countless art projects, and hours of snuggling. Now as they’re both old enough to be off to elementary school, I’m looking forward to having some more time to myself during the daytime to resume my creative work. However, I’ll still be a Stay-At-Home-Dad to get them up in the morning, and to be there when they return from school each day. I’m excited to see what other surprises are in store for our family as our children continue to grow!
Jonathan Rundman is a musician and songwriter from Minneapolis, MN. The song “List of Things to Do” appears on his new self-titled retrospective CD, released June 2012. Information, tour dates, and CD ordering information at http://www.jonathanrundman.com