Sidewalk Chalk & Dad Talk

Before having kids, when I would drive around town and see the sidewalk chalk that polluted the sidewalks and driveways of what would otherwise be peoples nice homes with great curb appeal, the OCD in me would cringe. How could parents let this happen? How long until that shit washes away? You must have to scrub it, right? Their neighbours must be pissed!

The things you don’t know or realize when you are not a parent.

  1. I haven’t written a blog in quite a while. I have been pouring all of my time into my kids and re-educating myself for a real estate career, and finding the time to sit down and write was very much becoming a challenge. Any spare time I had, I just wanted to zone out. I wasn’t really sure if I would, or even should continue blogging or not. Do people actually give a shit what I have to say? Are people actually interested in my thoughts or opinions or what I do with my kids anyway?  How or why did I ever start blogging? It is still strange to me in a sense, but somehow I have enjoyed writing about it and still to this day, I am not even sure why I do it, but somehow I enjoy writing- let’s keep doing this.img_7443

Since being laid off back in September of 2015, I have always felt that I had lost part of my identity. But after going through this summer, I am starting to believe that maybe I was just beginning to find it.

Summer was a blur. The stresses and pressure of being an unplanned stay at home Dad never goes away, in fact, the pressure just keeps getting intensified. The longer your dual income house is a single income house, the more you stress. You keep watching the news, hearing about more layoffs, and more economy issues. Slowly, you keep watching as many other friends and acquaintances are in the same boat, until it almost becomes a normal as strange as that may sound. The only sanctuary I was finding was spending time with ‘The Sloane Ranger’ and ‘Kid Brock’. They allow me to escape all the negative bullshit going on around me in the world.

If there were no financial stress involved, I would be totally fine. I could do this stay at home Dad thing until they went to school, Happily, actually. I was finding myself becoming much more comfortable in my new skin.

I was no longer feeling embarrassed that I was “not working”. I am working my ass off, actually. And so is my wife who is working two jobs. I also took on some volunteer projects on the side. I joined three committees – Recreation, Parks, & Culture Committee in town, A Recreation Fund Raising Sub-Committee, and Greens Committee at the local golf club.

I think on a subconscious level, it was probably my way of trying to find something that made me feel like my unemployed ass still had something to offer society. And the truth is, I needed something else to stimulate me besides Ruby & Max on Treehouse. It was taking my mind to dark places.

Places like that piece of shit Ruby, treating her much more clever-er than her, and much younger brother like a slave is complete horse shit if you ask me. Makes me angry. Who does she think she is anyway? If I was Max, I would beat her ass into next week if I had the physical capability.

And just where are their parents? Clearly their Mom must be out doing the stripper circuit through all the nearly dried up Alberta oilfield town strip club bars to get the last few loonies that the last few employed Albertan’s have, while their Dad and his oilfield buddies are still on a serious bunny bender at the never ending Van-Eaton Oilfield spring break-up party at the Moose Hall. Is this why they are always home alone other than the occasional appearance made by Grandma? Why is Central Alberta Child Protection Services dragging their ass on this one? Have the neighbours not reported any suspicious activity or lack there of? Perhaps we will never know.

Okay, so where were we? Right… I was leading into the fact that I was finding a new identity. When I was first getting used to being a stay at home Dad, It was kind of embarrassing. When I would take the kids to town, I would sort of be watching who was around before I stepped out of the truck with the kids, worried about being judged in a sense. “Hey there’s the guy who got laid off and still hasn’t found a job”. Is that what people say? I know that is probably far from the truth, but you still feel weird about it, or at least I did.

I spent many summer days doing fun things with the kids. On many days I would go to the Ponoka Parent Link. That place has truly been a godsend to me. My kids love it, and truthfully, so do I. As I have come to know some of the Moms that go there, and the staff (they are all amazing), I have really enjoyed my time with them and have gotten over the weird feeling and the fact that I was almost always the only male in the place.

I bought a membership at the Kraay Family Farm (Lacombe Corm Maze), and would drive my kids out there for many beautiful afternoons and nights when my wife was working her second job late into the evening hours after her day job. What a great place that is. It is well worth the money in my opinion. The kids love it, and prices are fair. The secret recipe to being a stay at home parent in my opinion is to embrace it, stay busy, and take advantage of this time to make unforgettable memories.

And that’s exactly what we did.

We stayed busy. Busy to the point that my daughters first words when she would get up every morning walking towards the kitchen from her bedroom wiping the sleep out of her eyes would be “So what are we gonna do today Daddy?”. I came to absolutely love hearing that phrase. In fact, I think that might be what started to make me believe that I was actually pulling this stay at home Dad thing off. It was this phrase that probably made me realize that she thinks we are on one big, giant adventure.

She thinks we are just doing stuff. Meanwhile I am becoming more acutely aware every day of the fact that I will be employed again, this period of time will soon end, and be all but gone. Soon I will be left with nothing more than the fondest of memories of what will probably go down as the most wonderful period of time in my adult life. Far from how I thought I would feel they day I was asked to leave my day job due to the low prices of oil. One thing I can say, is that I sure am thankful for how busy they have kept me and the lessons and gifts they have given me.

When this whole unemployment thing started, I didn’t know how, but I kind of knew that somehow this time could be very special for me, my kids, and hopefully on some kind of level, even my wife. It has been a time of learning. Learning about my wife, learning about my kids, and most of all – learning about myself.

Being a stay at home Dad, to me is special, and something to be proud of, not ashamed. It has become my new identity, I think.

Spending summer days at home with the kids at the ‘County Splash Park’, making fairy gardens, planting vegetable gardens, have been nothing short of amazing. Having toys, bikes, and sidewalk chalk litter my driveway all of a sudden is a welcomed sight.

Now when I see toys and bikes scattered on my lawn and that messy sidewalk chalk “polluting” my driveway, It has become something very special and meaningful to me. It means so many things; but only needs very few words to describe it.

Houses full of contentment, love, and happiness. A place to forget about the outside world.

Pretty sappy shit

I know.






4 thoughts on “Sidewalk Chalk & Dad Talk”

  1. Justin, you have embraced your situation completely and found the positive in what was going to be an extremely difficult time. Making you an exceptional man as you realized the possibilities offered and completely ran with it! Found that there is so much that your community has to offer and so much you have to offer it! And to your kids! Because you’re not just playing with them every day you’re teaching them skills and about life from the best teacher they’ll have! And providing that most important stability and security that makes for healthy, well adjusted & confident children.
    Well done, Justin. You have taken a sows ear and made a beautiful silk purse out of it!! Merry Christmas Mr Mom!

  2. Welcome back Justin, I’ve missed reading your blog and I think knowing you makes the read that much more special. I really respect how you have been able to put such a positive spin on your situation and I know that I think of you as one of the lucky ones for the special relationship that you have been able to have with your kids.

  3. Good on you, Justin. Something you & your kids will never forget – and would not have experienced if the price of oil had stayed high. Things happen for a reason. 🙂

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