By: John Jericiau
I used to be a physical therapist. I graduated with a Master’s degree from USC, and in the course of my career worked myself up from staff therapist to middle manager to director. It’s a great occupation. Most of my patients have told me that I was born to be a therapist. Interesting, satisfying, and rewarding, with lots of flexibility, Physical Therapy is a profession that remains important in the medical field. In fact, most Physical Therapists these days are graduating with a doctorate degree, a symbol of the prestige and respect deserved of the profession.
These days I work very part time at my friend’s clinic near our home, just to keep my skills sharp. But now that I’m almost exclusively a stay-at-home dad and I’m randomly filling out those endless questionnaires that constantly bombard us – you know those bubble forms online that ask you gender/sex/age/marital status*/total household income questions – and I get to the part about current job status, I’m confused. Full time? How about All the time? Part time? Does this mean I do nothing the rest of the time? Homemaker? Why is this choice here as a status? Isn’t it an actual occupation? Retired? Maybe in 21 years!
And then I get to the question which asks me to designate my actual occupation. They don’t have homemaker on this list, since they think of homemaker as a job status. They don’t have stay-at-home dad, since these questionnaires were produced back in 1970. I glance through the list, and I don’t see any of my job titles.
Like Event Planner! Whereas in my years as a single guy it seemed like my life was planned for me, these days every single day is spent planning the activities of the day, the week, the month, and the year, for myself, Alen, and especially the boys. While they are in preschool for 3 hours in the morning, I plan lunch, an afternoon activity, and dinner. Will it include a change of clothes, like swimming or karate? If so, I have to pack! Will it include friends? If so, coordination needs to take place between parents, and if we’re carpooling to the event, the minivan needs to be cleaned so that our guests don’t have to step on and over the 4 inches of toys, trash, and food that have settled on the floor. Will it include time at our house? If so, I need to do a quick sweep of the dust balls collecting in the corners of the rooms, as well as a quick scrubbing of the toilets and the area in a 5-foot radius of each toilet. (We have two 4-year-old boys who are not the best aim, and the two fathers will also occasionally miss, especially if cell phone is being held to the ear with one hand.) Will it include a place that has free Wi-Fi? If so, I need to pack up my bills and computer and papers to bring along. Will the weather change? If so, I need to pack clothes for the changing climate. Will it include a brand new activity? If so, I have to find the Groupon or Living Social I bought so I can save money. Will the activity last more than an hour? If so, I need to pack a snack and drink since the boys act like they are being starved to death if nourishment doesn’t pass through their lips every 20 minutes.
Is the activity camping in any of the California parks? If so, I need to reserve a campsite 8 months in advance! Is the activity one of the classes offered through the City of Santa Monica? If so, I need to be poised over my computer just before 6am on the designated day so I can snag two spots in swimming before the other parents snatch them up. Is the activity a family vacation? If so, I need to coordinate with Alen’s work schedule and the boys’ school schedules (I’m available 24/7).
It’s been so long since I have had any unscheduled time to myself! If I do have any time without the kids, it usually means that I have something else really important to do. It can’t possibly be to do just nothing! And things are not looking any rosier for the near future. In fact, Alen recently asked me if I’m going to be able to handle the reduction in my free time if Baby # 3 becomes a reality.
I’m planning on it.
*As a footnote, those bubble forms usually will list marital status options such as married, single, widowed, or living with partner. Although I am married, I always check off the “living with partner” choice, since I realize that this is secret code for GAY, which would not be politically correct to include as a choice. I want the people that ask these questions to know that there are GAY people filling out questionnaires at Karate Kids, Giggles n Hugs, etc, and we’re not invisible!