Musings of a Stay at Home Dad

Yesterday was my birthday. My wife arrived home from work to her two boys, both of which have birthdays in the same month. But this was ‘my day’, so they asked what I wanted and I picked a local restaurant that I love and we headed over there for the evening. And being in Sliema that required all of 5 minutes of walking.

January is always an interesting month for me. Conversations about the New Year, being another year older, and reflections on the year that just went by always crop up. So here we sat, having our annual discussion.

At first I thought, “I didn’t do a thing.”

Mikey likes it!

Anyone see the remote?

Since January of last year, I have been “Mr. Mom”. Linda goes off to work, I stay at home. During Aidan’s school year I help get him out the door, watch Linda follow soon after to catch her ride to work, then I am home alone until they start to return. Summer’s are not all that different because we find activities and camps for Aidan. And Serena is still back in the U.S. with her mom from my first marriage, finishing up High School.

So if I die tomorrow, what goes on my tombstone?

Here lies Trent McNair

“Mr. Mom”

Made a MEAN Mac and Cheese

Human beings are creatures driven by Ego. Women desire equality, but need to play nice to get there, men desire dominance, but need to be more tolerant of the new rules. Acceptance of these desires by the opposite gender is an unspoken law, like gravity.  Let’s call it the ‘Law of Tolerance’.

So most of us quietly obey this new law until a certain point in our lives. Usually at around 30-35 women who are clambering up the career ladder go a little slack jawed on their way to work one day when they realize “I WANT TO HAVE A BABY. NOW.” Men tend to get more and more pissed and emasculated as they watch women excel at the jobs that they think they should have.

All the while I sit on the sidelines observing this phenomena unfold. It’s mildly amusing, really. I say mildly because sometimes it seems like the unspoken Law of Tolerance has created a generation of boys that don’t really have great male role models and just stay little boys into their adulthood (which is extremely dangerous), and women that are pissed off at their behavior (inflaming the situation further).

Why was I even talking about this? Oh, yeah. Because usually when I am introducing myself to new people around the island, I get a queer reaction when I don’t ramble off a job title that spans several words. What they are expecting to hear from a well spoken man of my age is:

“I’m the Senior Director of Worldwide Applications Development at Acme Corporation”

Instead they get:

“I’m a multimedia consultant and stay-at-home Dad”

Sometimes, when I know that they are really going to be shocked and because I enjoy registering their reactions , I just leave out the multimedia consultant and stick with ‘Stay-at-home Dad’. I’ve been smirked at, chuckled at, even called “Boy Toy” and “Kept Man”. Mind you, it was usually the women that would react this way. Men seem to sense something in me that could be life-threatening and seem to just numbly stand there.

But it really doesn’t matter what they think. We are all doing battle with our Ego, the Law of Tolerance, and life’s daily struggles. In general, we are all in the same boat. Rather than take it personally, it’s just easier to allow everyone their opinions.  My personal struggle is no more important than yours, even though we as human beings are so focused on self that we have a hard time seeing anything other than, well, self. So sometimes I am tempted to respond to the questions of “What do you do?” with “Don’t worry about it. I’m nowhere near as important as you think you are”

So that’s my new motto for a New Year: “I’m nowhere near as important as you think you are”.

So this year is going to be amazing. I really look forward to the challenges and opportunities that will be coming my way.  I look forward to whatever may come, and I embrace my nowhere-near-important role as a husband and father like a warrior.

Trent McNair is a stay-at-home Dad. Last year he didn’t own and operate an organic nursery, write an award-winning children’s book about nutrition, gardening and the environment, or assist in the creation of a community garden. He also didn’t build and maintain several websites or do any outstanding humanitarian work. He did, however, support his wife, cooked nearly every meal, helped his son with his homework and afterschool activities, and started to write the novel he has been babbling about for years.

Making Malta Home

I’m finally able to take a moment to write my first post after my first full week at work and 10 days on the island. I leave for work at 8 and come home by 6, quite a change from the last seven years. But, it’s a welcome one. The TRC team is smart and fun; the environment – dynamic and exciting. The office is being built out as we work, so there’s lots of activity. We’re all crammed together on the same floor while saws and hammers pound in the background. My only requests – an awesome coffee machine and a microwave. Comin’ up!

Last weekend was spent getting our flat in order — unpacking and shopping at this huge Walmart-like store called Pavi for essentials that we need. We wandered the streets of the Sliema shopping district, not far from where we live. I love how safe we feel walking around; lots of kids and families out until late in the evening. Friday and Saturday nights, I feel like I’m back in college — it’s a party out there! What a bustling little town.

Our son being inappropriate with one of the local statues during our stroll through Sliema, our new home town.

I was hoping to get out this weekend with the family, but Malta is experiencing a storm it hasn’t seen in decades. Our landlord is a native; probably in her mid-40s. She said she has never seen a storm like this before; it’s a “sandy” storm coming in from the Sahara, apparently. Check out the news posted here. I’m sure Trent will be uploading more of the videos he took later on. Pretty incredible.

I’m loving the small City experience — buying food and other items as we need them from the small businesses around us, not being tied to a car, and affording a weekly house cleaner, Sandra — at 6 Euros, or less than $8, an hour! I feel your seething jealously…

I do like what this low humidity is doing for my skin, but not my hair. Frizz, Frizz, Frizz! It’s my goal to find out how these beautiful Maltese women keep their hair calm…

We are desperately trying to figure out the coffee situation. Since the office has yet to install its heavy duty espresso machine that makes a perfect cup every time, we bought a drip coffee machine. But the only coffee available is either espresso (which stops up the filter due to its density) or – brace yourself – Nescafe instant coffee. Yes, instant coffee. And there is no creamer. Just Coffeemate powder or evaporated milk.

Needless to say, we are returning the drip coffee maker to Pavi and investing in a serious espresso machine, switching to cappuccinos as our mainstay. This desperation will be worth weathering this storm and heading to The Point — an AWESOME shopping center about a half mile away. In the meantime, we park ourselves at Mint next door, an incredible cafe run by New Zealanders — different homemade foods and desserts made every day based on what they have available. And the cappuccinos? We’re addicted.

The other two items we really miss: a microwave and a clothes dryer. We have a washing machine, but air dry our clothes! Those things that need dry cleaning go there, but electricity is expensive so dryers are not a default installation. We have arranged to have our towels and sheets changed every week by Sandra, and she takes them with her – returning them the following Friday. She also irons anything we ask. She’s my new best friend….Anyways, we’re working through both of these inconveniences because we’re spoiled Americans who need to experience at least a few of the ways locals actually live.

Aidan is doing GREAT! I’m so proud of his adventurous spirit. He and Trent get out every day to explore our surroundings and fill me in at dinner. They have created a list of “must sees” from their explorations and plot out when we go again as a family. After my stamp of approval, it becomes a place to go when we have guests.

Trent is an amazing partner, as usual. He’s lining up work during breaks in the day so that he’ll be ready to go when Aidan starts school after Spring Break in mid-April.

What can I say? I’m a lucky girl.