During the course of this blog I’ve established I’m a stay-at-home parent. Although at-home parenting isn’t a new concept it is difficult for some people to imagine a man doing. I’m not complaining – I have a hard time erasing the conventional from my own brain (Johnny Carson is on at bed time, right?).
While trying to come up with a topic for this blog it hit me… I’m not that different. At all. From a woman, that is.
People want to get my perspective on being an at-home dad. They genuinely want to believe I make blow torch grilled cheese and mop the floor with my daughter’s pj’s while she’s inside.
The reality is far from glamorous. I, like any stay-at-home parent, wake blearily to a schedule full of diapers, cooking, cleaning, planning, playing, instructing, yelling (from me) and crying (me again). I don’t see how it’d be possible for someone to do it any differently. Who would have time to build an erector set sweeping machine when boogers are stuck in their kids’ hair (and the dog’s, although I don’t know how exactly). It takes every second of the day to accomplish stuff… in a standard, non-sensational way.
What I’m saying is that when asked for my perspective I can’t imagine it being too far off from what my female colleagues would say. If there are things to cook… I cook. Things to clean… I clean. I can say I’m rather quirky, so I do put a little flavor on my day to make it interesting. Next time you have your children for the day try communicating mostly with movie quotes. Here are a few to get you started:
Forrest Gump “Lieutenant Dan. Ice cream!” Used when giving child ice cream. Or asparagus – it just sounds better to call it ice cream. Kids love being fooled like that.
Taxi Driver “You talkin’ to me?” Use this phrase when child demands something of you without saying please. Or just recite random lines from “Taxi Driver” to telemarketers. It does wonders for your morale.
Fight Club Tyler Durden: “Did you know if you mixed equal parts of gasoline and frozen orange juice concentrate you can make napalm?” There is no need to quote this other than to watch your two-year-old’s face try to figure out what the hell you just said.
Pulp Fiction Marsellus: “In the fifth, your ass goes down. Say it.”
Butch: “In the fifth, my ass goes down.” When appropriately modified to reflect time, this quote can work wonders for naps.
But I digress. Hey look, a job’s a job and you do what ya gotta do to make it all come together, whether male or female. Unfortunately, the only alluring side to what I do comes from my quirkiness, not my manliness.
Now it’s time to welcome my wife home from work with another movie quote I’m sure she’ll love. “Frankly my dear…”
Nathan Bright is a 30-something stay-at-home dad who resides near St. Louis, MO. He is a husband to an amazing woman and father to a doubly amazing 2 year old little girl. His blessed home is scheduled to be even more blessed in March, as Nathan and his wife will welcome a second daughter to their family. When Nathan is not blogging for OurMilkMoney.com’s The Daddy’s Den, he writes and illustrates his own children’s books. Available for purchase immediately is Maddi Patti and her Stay-at-Home-Daddy.
Thirteen years ago, I came to Los Angeles with a Bachelor’s in Theatre and Film degree, stars in my eyes and a certainty that I was exactly what Hollywood was looking for. I had ten 2 minute monolgues, a mixture of classic, contemporary, comedic and dramatic, ready to go at any given time, and 12 new dialects perfected. I had 4 songs prepared for all of my musical theatre auditions, 16 bars each and the sheet music to hand to any accompanist, 2 sets of character shoes, and an attitude that wouldn’t quit. I knew I was meant for something great. I worked hard, took classes, auditioned for as many things as I could and got rejected and rejected and rejected. I kept going, only to get rejected some more. I met and fell in love with other artists, some struggling like me, others on their way to the top. I booked some work on a soap opera, a pilot that was made but never seen, did some theatre, some student films, and a showcase or two. I temped during the day, rehearsed for plays at night, hung out with the cast after rehearsals and crawled into bed by 1am each night. I was hired and fired from more day jobs than I could count, sent out headshots and postcards every week, and searched for inexpensive ways to see theatre on the weekends. Looking back, those times were…romantic. I loved and hated that time. There was so much uncertainty. I didn’t work as much as many of my friends did, and I remember thinking- well, now, I can’t be THAT BAD. Now that I am a stay-at-home mom, concerned about wellness checks, potty training and creative ways to cook vegetables, the life of an actor that I vaguely remember seems to have belonged to someone else. Somewhere along the way I lost the desire to perform and found a passion for giving as much of myself as I can to my children. I did my first radio broadcast last week, This Little Parent Stayed Home, but afterwards I sat there and critiqued my own “work” the way I had done after one of my shows, or one of my auditions. Did I speak in my lower register, and use my full range? Did I push too hard or fail to miss my beats? Did my show have a beginning, middle and end, with a dramatic arc 2/3 in? Was I funny? Interesting? Did I leave my audience wanting more? Then the realization came that I am no longer a performer, or an actor. That life was left far behind, and thank goodness. The performance that I gave on Friday was no act. It was the realist thing I’ve ever done, and no theatre critique will be able to tear it apart. The truth is, I am glad that I had the chance to experience the life of a struggling actor, but I am even more grateful that it led me down a new path. I am no longer on a mission to entertain. I am on a mission to inspire. If just one mom or dad listening to my show felt like a good parent in that hour, or decided to go for that second child, I did my job. If one person was inspired to use the OMM directory to search for a product or service and give their hard earned dollars to a family, then I succeeded in what I set out to do. When I think about that young girl 13 years ago who believed her special purpose in life was to be a television star on a situation comedy, and what that little girl didn’t know, I can’t help but smile. That young and naive girl never would have aspired for where she would ultimately land. But she also had no way of knowing the amount of happiness and joy that would fill her life, and the passion that she would embody to create a better world for families everywhere, ten times greater than the passion to see her name on her own dressing room door. I am grateful for this new path, and the unexpected turns up ahead in my journey.
Ally Loprete is a stay-at-home mother of 2 boys, a former television, theatre and film actress, singer, performer, storyteller, and teacher. An advocate of parents, Ally founded OurMilkMoney.com, an online business directory of self-employed parents and an organization dedicated to helping parents find financial opportunities and support. She is also the host of This Little Parent Stayed Home weekly radio show available on Toginet.com, and the playwright & performer for her one-woman show about the journey of dealing with unexpected drama in life, Chasing Ally.
Ally’s passion to help others transitioned from full time working parent to successful entrepreneur has grown from her own experiences. She is determined to help other’s deal with the sometimes overwhelming prospect of starting a new business while still running a household, and is resolute about creating a haven in which we can continue to thrive and support each other in our personal journeys. Born and raised in Phoenix, Arizona, Ally currently resides with her husband and her two little boys, Braden and Henry, in the beautiful suburbs of Stevenson Ranch, California, just north of Los Angeles.
Start by embracing “change” as our only hope to a brighter future, and see the rainbow at the end of the storm.
Written by Ally Loprete Have you noticed that there is no longer a basic definition of what a typical American Family entails? These days, families are being redefined by what works for them as a means of survival. There are those that oppose the unfamiliar, which is certainly understandable, and those that embrace it, which is what I believe is THE ANSWER. Nowadays, anything goes. Men are staying at home with the kids while the women go to work. Women are becoming business owners while staying home and running the household. Families are working together to bring in extra revenue with small side businesses. Men are playing bigger roles in their children’s lives, contributing more with what used to be considered the women’s responsibility: cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, grocery shopping, helping with homework, etc. Gay men and women are getting married and having children together. Women are running for office, and winning. If this isn’t a revolution, I don’t know what is. Standing ovation and Bravo! I honestly love all of it! I am so impressed with the way American families are coming together and making it work. I know it’s been a struggle for so many of us, but I think it’s important that we are all aware of how much we have achieved already just by surviving… and all the glorious places we can go to from here. If you are a parent, pat yourself on the back for what you have accomplished and the innovations that are activating a brighter future for all of us, especially for our children. You don’t see it yet? Okay, suppose for a moment that you deserve the difficult time that you are living in. It doesn’t matter where you think you went wrong, the truth is, you probably didn’t. We all remember the basic things our parents and teachers told us growing up, and the simple keys to happiness. Get good grades, stay in school, get a degree, marry the right person, save 10% of your paycheck, work your way up the ladder and earn your increase every year, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera.
Okay, so maybe we deviated from the advice just a tad, but so what? We were promised a pretty secure and stable life with 2 cars, a house, some pets, stuff to play with, family vacations, college for our kids and a pension for early retirement. So what went wrong? Why are so many of us left scratching our heads after doing what we were told? We’re broken down, beaten up, stressed out, over-weight, over-medicated, under cared for, jobless and hopeless, short-saled, repo-ed, and drowning in debt. We have blamed every president, politician, pushy boss, parent, partner and professor. We are fighting with our spouses, yelling at our kids and blaming ourselves. Sheeeeesh! Let’s all just stop for a moment, take a deep breath, and decompress. Did it ever occur to you that this is all just part of our journey? This may not be a punishment. This “challenging” time may very well be an opportunity to rebuild an even better tomorrow for ourselves and for our children. We are living in a radical time of ground-breaking technology, new forms of mass communication, insurgent medical discoveries, and we live in a country where no one can REALLY tell us “no”. Sure, society might discourage us from trying something new or to taking risks, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t. We need to re-program our minds to see the benefits of CHANGE, and how we are already in the middle of a spectacular revolution. In the words of the late, talented and insurrectionary Michael Jackson, “Make that change.” Look in the mirror and start with yourself. Stop fighting with your spouse, your business partner, your boss or your neighbor. Look for the commonalities of what we are all trying to achieve, and realize the power we have in togetherness. We are a new collaboration of men and women, alike. We are a partnership of moms and dads, of CEOs, COOs, and CFOs in our lives and in all that is important to us. We are united and we celebrate our differences. We are unapologetic for who we are, and accepting of those that have different viewpoints. We are each other’s teachers. We embrace each other’s special qualities, exceptional idiosyncrasies and unique characteristics because it is our only hope to solve this puzzle. We have only just begun to realize that by coming together we may all have a necessary contribution to the answer we have been seeking. This is a very distinctive time for us all, and we have the power to make a difference. A rainbow cannot exist without first the presence of a storm. We deserve that rainbow.
Drama has been with me for so long, I don’t even remember where we first met. I think it was sometime during elementary school because by the time I was in junior high, it was sitting next to me in every class, eating lunch with me, and keeping me company while I walked home from school each day. It started out shyly stalking me. It followed me wherever I went and hid behind bushes and buildings so that I wouldn’t see it. But I always knew it was there. At first, Drama was just sort of annoying to me, and then its presence began to torment me to the point where I’d try to avoid it at all costs, outsmart it, or hide from it by getting lost in a crowd of people and disguising myself as no one special… but Drama always found me. I tried to reason with Drama, asking it to leave me alone, locking it out my bedroom, and refusing to feed it or nurture it. I had hoped that it would just give up and find someone else to pursue, but nothing worked. Like a lost puppy, it had found its home with me, stayed loyal to me and waited outside all night in the cold for me, happily wagging its tail the moment it saw me. It would continue to tag along side me, each and every day. Some days Drama was more present than others, but it never left my side. Drama came with me to high school, stayed all 4 years, and then followed me out of state to college. It lived with me and all of my college roommates, in the dorm, the sorority house and even in my first apartment. It stood next to me at graduation, was there when I took my first job, my second job, and pretty much every job after that. Eventually I just began taking Drama with me to job interviews so that potential employers wouldn’t be surprised to find out that Drama would be following me to work each day. Some employers graciously accepted it, and others did not. Often when I went out with friends, Drama would be there. It accompanied me on blind dates, to parties, or even just out to the movies by myself. Drama has lived with me at every apartment, condo or house that I’ve had. It’s made its way into every group I’ve gotten involved with, and every friendship or romantic relationship that has come into my life. Drama was there when I first met my husband, on the day that he proposed and it even made several appearances on our wedding day. Drama has been living with my husband and I ever since. It’s with us on weekdays and weekends, it joins us on all of our family vacations, holidays, and special events. We brought it with us when we purchased our first house, when we bought new cars, and whenever we have changed jobs or careers. Drama was with us when my husband and I decided to start a family. It stayed by my bedside throughout both of my pregnancies and was there at the hospital the day both my children were born. Drama has become such a part of our lives, that if it ever left us, we’d feel that there is something missing. Some people seem put off by the fact that Drama comes with us wherever we go, acting almost as if they are allergic to it, afraid to go near it, or even hoping that if they ignore it won’t exist. Others have been very accepting of it, and have come to understand that it is part of who we are. We have embraced Drama as a member of the family, and honestly, we wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s taken some time, but we’ve learned to be grateful to Drama for being present in our lives. It’s because of Drama that we’ve become the well-rounded, seasoned and experienced people that we are today. Drama has taught us love and acceptance, how to lower our expectations, strive for growth, take risks and have a sense of humor about ourselves. It has shown us the difference between good friends and GREAT friends, brought us together with those we love during times of anger and sadness, war and disease, and other life tragedies. It has shown us that we are resilient, even during our most vulnerable times. It has introduced us to new people and situations, and taken us on journeys, both thrilling and exciting, that we never expected to go on. Drama has given us incredible material for our acting careers, our one-person shows, our books and our blogs. It has inspired us to create, invent, take risks, start new business ventures, and connect with others who also have Drama, similar to ours, in their lives. We love to tell stories about Drama and do so over and over again at family reunions, and Thanksgiving Dinners. We will continue to pass the stories down to our children through the generations. Drama has brought laugher into our lives, as well as tears. It’s because of Drama that we are who we are, where we are, how we’ve come to choose so many of the paths we’ve taken in our lives, and even how we’ve learned to survive. Drama has been documented in our history books, our newspapers and magazines. It is in our favorite TV shows and movies, the books we read, and even the commercials we watch. Drama is everywhere we are, and once we embrace it, we are able to realize how it has nurtured us, emerged us into new opportunities and possibilities, teaching us how to make lemonade out of lemons. We love Drama, and we are not ashamed to admit it, as others may be. I have grown to feel sad for the people who don’t have at least a little Drama in their lives, and wonder how boring and empty their lives must be. Although, Drama has been known to follow others from time to time…even those that deny they know anything about it, lurking in the shadows and showing up when they least expect it. I know how Drama must frighten them, but I also know that they have nothing to be afraid of.
But it’s the people that have welcomed Drama into their lives that seem the healthiest, the least threatened and the most blissful. Drama is a gift.