Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A Thankless Job

For those of you who follow my blog, I’m sorry I didn’t post yesterday. The day seemed to escape from me before I got to it. Here it is, 2:00 in the morning and now sleep is escaping from me. I know I will regret it in the morning when I must begin teaching my two oldest children, which brings me to my post for today.

Homeschooling can be a struggle. It is, for the most part, a thankless job. I’ve chosen to partake in a child’s most hated “profession” – School! And what my children hate more than anything is math (and that of course takes the longest to get through).

It can, at times (like yesterday) be a downright emotional battle, which usually takes its toll (not posting is the smallest of casualties). This isn’t to say that all days are bad; there are good ones as well.  But overall, it’s tough.

As a father and a teacher, you can’t just turn yourself off no matter how much you want to. I can’t send the kid home and have his or her parents deal with it. You are tied and bonded with this child like no other.  Their successes and failures work through your heart with intensity.

And when the day becomes a struggle, you don’t have lunch to gather your thoughts or yourself. You don’t have a free period to recoup. You don’t have other teachers or colleagues to help you through the day. You are there until the end. (Not to mention you still have a 3 year-old and a 1 year-old to take care of.) You don’t even have an end to your workday. You are still there at six o’clock, sitting at a picnic table with your child doing math.

It is a lonely job.

Well, let’s face it! Being a stay-at-home-dad is pretty lonely as well. There is no recognition, raise, bonus, retirement, perk, award, or benefit (unless you call having a sip of coffee at the counter before you are summoned in tears by one of your children a benefit.) If so, then yes, I have a benefit.

This job is just you and your children working and learning together, which sounds idealistically great. That is until you do it. Things in this world don’t work as they should. They work as they do. (If that makes sense.)
I love my children. I love them dearly. But children are people, and people have wills. Strong wills. And sometimes those wills clash. With a house full of girls, clashes always end in tears. To be honest, most everything ends in tears.

I don’t like tears.

(SIDENOTE: I just once want to run to my room crying and throw myself onto a bed and see how the world reacts. It might be worth it. Though if I do it, my children will probably just laugh. “It’s always funny when dad does it,” he said, bitterly.)

Anyway, while some in this world may applaud fathers that stay at home with their children, the echoes of clapping can fade quickly, Usually to be replaced with a lot of crying.  

I’ve worked a lot of different jobs. I’ve worked in media, in offices, in schools, in colleges; I’ve worked manual labor, in factories, and on a farm. But this is the most difficult job I’ve ever had.

I know this post is a bit pessimistic, but this is the kind of thing you get when it is now 3:00 in the morning. Nothing is ever happy this late in the night (or early in the morning).

Now I know most people will expect some sort of pithy statement at the end of this post, something that says it’s all worth it. Well, there’s not going to be one today!

Is it worth it? Who knows. I’ll find out twenty years from now when no one wants to come home for Thanksgiving.


  1. You might be surprised. I was actually just talking to my mom this morning about how time spent with family is the absolute most beneficial thing to glue a family together. I always spent lots of time with my girls (and not all pleasurable - as you say, lots of drama and tears), but now, they hate it when they can't make it home for Thanksgiving or any holliday for that matter. No profound statement here, just - you're doing a good thing - in the end, you will look back and be glad.

  2. Either way - you did your very best- no matter what mistakes you may make. That's all we can do.