Staying home with my darlings

I love my children – I have four of them.  I’ve been a stay-home dad for the last 6 years.  At one point or another I’ve stayed home with at least one of them and at the most, three at once.  Things have calmed down somewhat, now that my three boys are all in school, but with the arrival of my sweet little princess last October, I’ve got another four years to go until it’s her turn to start school (sniff).

But as each of my children grew and eventually started school, it seemed that another darling would enter my home.  You see, a funny thing happened when my wife and I decided that I should stay home with our kids:  my brain woke from a twenty year coma.  No, no, I’m 100% healthy.  It’s just that I haven’t been – how should I phrase this – the most ambitious amongst us humans during my adult life.

But in the latter part of 2007, one year into my newly acquired role as Mr. Mom and with a sudden influx of personal reflective time, I discovered a hidden passion that had previously laid dormant for most of my life – the writer within.  And although a piece of me left whenever one of the kids left to start school for the first time, I slowly became acquainted with my new children – my darlings that came to life in my head each time I turned on my laptop and began typing.

When you’re a parent, you discover things about yourself that you may not have known before, or may not have needed to use until those precious little sweethearts started to fill your home.  But when you become a stay-home parent, and the realization that your children’s lives depend entirely on you every minute of the day, it’s almost like a slap in the face – a rude awakening.  And if you aren’t committed 100%, then your children suffer.

I’ve noticed this on a much smaller scale with the characters I’ve developed within my books.  If I, as an author, am not on my game and mentally committed, then my characters suffer and ultimately the entire story suffers.  I guess you could say that being a stay-home parent has helped me refine my skills as an author when it comes to nurturing my characters through the writing process, and giving them what they require to flourish.

But the sad inevitability that happened when my children eventually left for school also happened when I had to “let go” of my first novel and release my surrogate darlings into the cruel, unforgiving world.  Stay-home dad or writer, I guess I’m doomed no matter what.

So, although my fathering skills in everyday life have now been tweaked to accommodate the needs of a toddler who now wears pink (yikes!), it’s been a true pleasure to breathe life and hope and aspirations and accomplishments into each and every character I’ve written about.  I’ve grown and seen my darlings-in-prose grow along with me during my authoring journey, and sometimes I can’t help but feel protective of them.

My only wish is this:  just as parenthood has taught me how to develop and become a better writer, I can only hope that by being a writer, perhaps I’ll learn to more easily let go and release my own kids into that same cold, cruel world when those inevitable times come knocking upon our door.  Until then (sniff, sniff), I’m going to keep writing my books, keep raising my kids, and keep fathering more darlings into the wonderful world of fiction.  

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