HOMETOWN Worcester Massachusetts; since 1996 I reside in Largo, Florida
ON THE WEB Sarjen-webdesign.com (home business)
NUMBER OF CHILDREN Three girls; twins 12.5 years and 9 (even the cat is a girl)
DAY JOB For the first part of my morning, until about 10 AM, I am the at-home dad. While the children are in school, I run a web design business that I started, and when the kids are home from school, from about 3 pm, it’s all them until bedtime.
RELATIONSHIP STATUS Married
*Editor’s Note* Bob is another of the at-home dad-friends we met at the DaddysHome,Inc Annual At-Home Dad Convention. Hi Bob! *waves* (Bob gets the extra-special questions designed for At-Home-Dads by Hogan Hilling.)
HOW DO YOU COMBINE WORK AND FAMILY?
This is a tough question; I think a better word might be “manage” over combine. My wife Margaret works very hard at what she does and sometimes with exceedingly long hours, plus business trips. I worked the first year and 2 months the twins were born and then became a stay-at-home. I have been an at-home dad since 2000 (11 years). I used to think work and family could be combined, but I have found over the years that each has to have its own space. I love web design work; it’s somewhat therapeutic and helps a little with some extra income, but once the kids are home it’s all about them, and even before that, and it has to be. It’s all about them with activities, doctor visits, and whatever else comes up. So although I try not to combine “work” and family; my work is my family.
Being an at-home dad is my real work, there is no question about that.
I got involved with Daddyshome, Inc. during the 14th annual at-home dad convention in Omaha (almost three years ago) and am now the organization’s Web Designer.
WHAT ARE YOUR HOBBIES?
Unfortunately I’m not able to watch sports that much but some of my hobbies are computers, drawing, church, camping, bowling, and my children.
WHAT DO YOU FEEL YOU DO WELL AS A HUSBAND AND DAD?
What I feel I do well as a husband:
1. Am supportive of Margaret’s role as the primary income source.
2. I listen when she needs comfort or a shoulder to lean on (sometimes not so good).
3. I make sure dinner is ready when she gets home, if she hasn’t had to eat already, and on occasion bring it to her.
4. Margaret is a diabetic; I make sure her meds are in order and in full supply.
As a dad:
1. I talk to my children about issues they don’t understand or know the consequences of.
2. I provide medical care for the bumps and bruises and when needed with doctor visits/hospitals.
3. I support the activities they choose (or don’t choose) to get involved with. I also make the tough decisions that don’t make me a fan favorite but are for the best, such as financial decisions.
WHAT IS IT THAT YOU CONTRIBUTE TO YOUR KIDS, AS A DAD, THAT YOUR PARTNER OR WIFE CAN’T?
Time! Time is a BIG obstacle and I am able to contribute more of it to the kids than my wife. Margaret is very sensitive to this and sometimes it causes issues in our communication with each other.
WHAT ARE THREE THINGS THAT YOU WISH YOUR PARTNER WOULD UNDERSTAND BETTER ABOUT A FATHER’S PERSPECTIVE?
Three things I wish my wife would understand better are:
1. We look at more than one way to accomplish the same thing.
2. That we tend to be over-protective of our child which means saying “NO” sometimes too much without realizing it should be a yes.
3. I would like my wife to understand that when she gets home, I don’t just snap out of dad-mode and don’t intentionally talk to her the way she hears it.
WHAT ARE THE THREE TOUGHEST THINGS ABOUT BEING A DAD THAT A WOMAN MIGHT NOT UNDERSTAND?
1. There’s an invisible looming presence that makes it feel like I’m being put under a microscope by some —wondering why I do what I do.
2. I can’t just let emotions flow in certain situations and need to stay strong for the benefit of the family.
3. I still need intimacy and need to know I’m worth the attention, and sometimes I feel as though I’m looked over in place of other things.
WHAT DO YOU APPRECIATE MOST ABOUT YOUR PARTNER OR WIFE?
What I appreciate most:
1. How much she has sacrificed for me to be at home with the kids; she has sacrificed her time, her personal motherly emotions and dreams.
2. How she has accepted her role reluctantly for the greater good.
3. I appreciate her ability to deal with both work and home situations.
4. How she has helped me realize that being an at-home dad is a blessing and not a curse (I had a hard time with that for many years).
WHAT IS YOUR WORST PARENTING MOMENT?
My worst parenting moment was when one of my daughters had a fit at the zoo on our way out because she wanted to go to the gift shop. We at that point had run out of money for the trip. We went out to sit on a bench and a woman walked up and said “do you know where your mom is.” I felt really belittled in my capacity as her father for someone not to recognize that I was there with her as though I wasn’t able to comfort her.
WHAT IS YOUR BEST PARENTING MOMENT?
At this point there have been many proud (best) moments —like when my daughters (the twins) both brought home honor role grades or when my youngest is full of pride in herself for her dance routine in front of hundreds at a dance recital.
But truly my best parenting moment was when I became one. I was there when all of them took their first breathe and cut the cords; first solid food, and first steps. Those little things that my children have experienced, and that we later in life take for granted, are the best parenting moments.
*One more thing* Not sure if this is a “best” parenting moment but when my daughters where young, maybe three years of age, I had brought them to a well known shopping club and they needed a restroom pretty badly. At three years of age and potty trained, I wasn’t comfortable letting them in a store bathroom themselves so I took them into the men’s room with me.
An employee grumbled under his breath because I had brought my girls in, I had asked if there was a problem and the short answer was ‘yes’. I later found a manager and let him know the situation and the employee was terminated.
Why was this a “best” parenting moment? Because it was the first time that I had to defend my actions for my children’s benefit. The end result was not good for the employee but it helped me realize that I would, could, and did do what I thought was necessary for my children.