A couple best days of my life have been the birth of my two boys. They’re the gifts that keep on giving. And giving and giving…
From 2005-2009, I was a stay-at-home father, before it was cool, like it is today. Now day’s dads are saddling up at home more than ever. According to study from the Pew research center, nationally stay at home fathers’ number around 2 million in 2012 up from 1.1 million in 1989. It’s time for fathers to share the load as well, right guys?
As most stay-at-home dads will attest, there’s nothing ‘cool’ about changing stinky diapers, messy meals times or getting by on minimal sleep. Not mention the endless repeats of Teletubbies, Barney and Friends and Elmo Potty. Dark days indeed. If I ever see strained veggies and bottled formula again, it will be too soon.
However, being a father of two boys has many benefits. For example:
- I get to act like a child and get away with it.
- Play has become a regular part of my life i.e. wrestling, playing ball and imaginative kids’ games.
- It provides a much needed lesson in patience.
- I get to eat their Halloween candy. Don’t judge me.
Most of all, watching my kids grow up is a blessing. However, this also comes with great power and responsibility. My life, although pretty decent at that time wasn’t conductive for being the role model I wanted to be for my children. I needed more energy (to keep up with the little hell raisers) and I wanted to contribute financially to their future. It was time for change.
After leaving Australia in 2001 to live the American dream, I came with here with no real skills. I left behind my fledging sports commentator career only armed with a high school certificate, one year of technical college and a spotty work record. The sports played in the USA are so different to those played in Australia the commentator thing was never going to work out here.
Around 2005 I was working out at a local Y, mainly just to get out of the house. A combination of a poor diet, lack of sleep and the stress of raising two boys were taking a toll on my waistline. The terrible two’s had already taken most of my hair, getting fat wasn’t an option. I didn’t want to end up being the clichéd married man who’d completely let himself go.
Guy’s if that sounds like you, grow some hair or lose that belly. Your choice.
Suddenly the exercise thing took on new meaning. I started reading anything exercise related I could get my hands on. I worked through various men’s magazine workouts trying in vain to look like the guys on the cover. I also Googled workouts to try and cure my case of chicken legs.
After program hopping with little or no result, I began to write my own exercise programs. Seeing some of the rhyme and reason behind exercise programming, I felt it wasn’t rocket science so I gave it a shot. After all, I had nothing to lose, except for the rest of my hair.
I enjoyed the challenge of exercise selection, programming sets and reps and working around the various minor injuries I picked up along the way. Gym – goers were asking questions I was able to answer and I become somewhat of an authority in my neck of the woods. Then I had a light bulb moment just like it happens in the cartoons.
Maybe, I could turn this passion into a job. Which other job allows you to
- Wear tracksuit pants and T- Shirt.
- Feed your addiction to caffeine.
- Play with exercise.
- Tell other people what to do.
If you guessed personal fitness trainer, give yourself a pat on the back. I found a self-paced study Certified Personal Trainer course through the American Council of Exercise. This was perfect because when the boys slept, I studied. Of course when they didn’t I had my hands full. It was eighteen months before both boys were in pre-school, so there was no hurry to be qualified.
The extra time allowed me to go deeper into the ins and outs of the human anatomy and the way the body behaves during exercise. This was valuable learning for working with the human body. You’ll be surprised how many fitness professionals have missed out on this, but that’s another story.
Working towards a career, while also being there for my kid’s formative years was the best of both worlds. Stay at home parenting is a tough but rewarding gig and it can be all consuming. Having something outside of this made me a better father and husband because I didn’t drive my entire family bananas. And it provided me with some semblance of balance in the chaos that is life.
That balance continued when the kids started school and I went to work. Working in the fitness industry is not your typical nine-five job. I had the ability to set my own schedule which its self, is a blessing. Since I started working and until this day, I’m at home when the kids get home from school and also present to tuck them in. Being present for your kids while they’re growing up is ninety percent of the battle. The rest is just holding it together in the face of the boy onslaught. Parents, especially of boys, you know what I’m talking about.
When you’re a parent you cherish the times of peace and quiet after the chaos. That time for me was Sunday. My wife started taking the kids to church in 2012 and I had the whole house to myself. No wild parties, pigging out or looking at porn, it was a chance to do some house work and get lost in my thoughts.
It was a pretty good gig to be honest. But after a while the kids became suspicious. “Why do we have to go to church while daddy gets to stay home?” I’d often brush this off and come up with some sort lame excuse. My wife would often be silent during this interrogation but her glare wasn’t.
After a while, I’d run out of excuses and ways to avoid that glare. So the next time this subject was bought up I agreed to go. I told myself that I was doing this for my family and I didn’t have to listen to all that bible speak. After all I believed in God, wasn’t that enough?
I remained anonymous enough most Sundays. I’d pitch in and help when required and I made a few friends. That seemed to make my boys happy and was enough to still the heat of my better half’s glare. However I still put a comfortable distance between myself and the church.
This changed when we moved from a Methodist church to Lutheran church in Rockwall. By chance or by design, more and more people I worked with and had met were involved in the church. What we talked about really resonated with me. The walls I’d put around myself started to come down.
To become a member of the Lutheran Church, I had to agree to be baptized. In front of my family and another hundred church members, I affirmed my faith in Jesus, renounced the devil and got soaked in holy water. My pastor had gotten me pretty good. There was no hiding, the walls crashed down and now I’m all in. Because of this I’m a better man, father and trainer.
I’m a very fortunate man to have three strong pillars of fatherhood, fitness and faith in my life. No matter what life throws at me, no matter the up and downs, I have strong foundation to grab hold of. For your sake, I hope you do to.