Shop the fall collection ➔

“Daddy, you will be so proud of me,” announced my three-year-old son, from the darkness of his room, at 5:30 a.m.

“Yeah, I bet, so proud,” I muttered, wondering what this Saturday morning wake up call could possibly be about.

“PRANKED YOU,” he shouted, as he launched a soggy diaper into my chest and bolted out the door, naked.

This summer, I dutifully took on the responsibility of stay-at-home dad. My wife was due in August with our third child. As a teacher I usually pick up some type of part-time work when school is closed, but during this juncture, comfort would be prioritized over meager fiscal gain. The goal: try to do the things my wife does on a daily basis with no deterioration in the quality of our home or the happiness of our children. The results varied.

Although I am very active in the lives of my children and the maintenance of our house, there are certain things you don’t really gain an appreciation for until you do them yourself. For example, I thought it was quite noble to try to vacuum the accumulating beach sand in our living room as my wife rested upstairs. About a year ago, I was proud of the fact that I “okayed” the purchase of a rather expensive water filter based, cleaning contraption. Being as my employment afforded us to buy it, clearly I was exonerated from the formality of actually using it; which to my chagrin was not nearly as simple as I anticipated.

I felt like Robert Downey Jr. playing the role of Sherlock Holmes as I skillfully managed to narrow down the suspect closets where the vacuum could be stored, without having to interrupt her nap to ask where it was. Once retrieved, I searched for the On/Off button I assumed all standard domestic equipment was designed with. Sadly, I was met with a series of buttons and levers that appeared to have the necessary technology to control a Mars rover. “Don’t panic,” I said aloud, for encouragement. “You got this.”

My next logical move . . . “Siri, how do you turn on fancy water jug vacuum?”

“Hi Brian, here’s what I found about water on the moon.”  

“WHAT!?” (Expletive! Expletive! Expletive!).

You get the picture, I ended up having to read the instruction manual. It was more confusing than the time a student tried to explain to me why Post Malone is a good musician. An hour later, when you factor in the lunch I made and minor disputes I resolved, I was finally able to clean the living room. As I vacuumed, I began to ponder: what other “easy” stuff gets done around here that I don’t know how to do?

What do you know about sword fights? I’m not talking about the decadent violence of the Roman Colosseum. I’m talking about when you’re trying to use the bathroom and your kid runs up next to you, then begins to shake his hips back and forth as he attempts to cross streams with you over the toilet. It’s a habit of his we’re working on reducing, but what’s the big deal? It’s not like all that excess splashing of pee actually goes anywhere. It just kind of forms a mist and evaporates into the air, right? Wrong! It literally sticks to the side of the toilet, and the floor, and even the wall if you’re really good (or bad, I guess). Magically, someone cleans that up . . . like, every single day.

Who knew my daughter eats 76 peanut butter and jelly sandwiches throughout the course of a week, none of which make themselves. I’ve never gone into ACME for anything other than beer, steaks, and charcoal. I figured grocery shopping took 5-10 minutes, if you knew exactly what you wanted. I now know, negotiating with two small children in a food store is like going back in time to try to ease foreign relations with Mongolian warlords; much respect if you’re done in an hour and stick to 80 percent of the stuff on your list.

I’m far from the Homer Simpson, clueless buffoon, father figure often portrayed on television. My wife and I have an outstanding relationship filled with love and happiness. Compassion and mutual respect are cornerstones of any lasting marriage. However, it’s certainly accurate to say I viewed our partnership as me having to go to work and her getting to stay at home. A role I happily fulfilled because I always felt as if I was doing us both a massive favor.

The truth is, the job of stay at home parent is mentally and physically taxing, as well as immeasurably rewarding. However, it is a job, with dire consequences. You just might not realize that until you’re the one cleaning pizza cheese off an overdue library book, because someone thought it would make a cool plate.

Brian Halsey

Brian Halsey is a Literature teacher, novelist, freelance writer, husband, father, and legendary body surfer from the shores of New Jersey.

I Thought Our Friendship Would Be Unbreakable

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Two friends selfie

The message notification pinged on my phone. A woman, once one of my best friends, was reaching out to me via Facebook. Her message simply read, “Wanted to catch up and see how life was treating you!”  I had very conflicting feelings. It seemed with that one single message, a flood of memories surfaced. Some held some great moments and laughter. Other memories held disappointment and hurt of a friendship that simply had run its course. Out of morbid curiosity, I clicked on her profile page to see how the years had been treating her. She was divorced and still...

Keep Reading

The First 10 Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking

In: Journal, Marriage, Relationships
The First Ten Years: How Two Broken People Kept Their Marriage from Breaking www.herviewfromhome.com

We met online in October of 2005, by way of a spam email ad I was THIS CLOSE to marking as trash. Meet Single Christians! My cheese alert siren sounded loudly, but for some reason, I unchecked the delete box and clicked through to the site. We met face-to-face that Thanksgiving. As I awaited your arrival in my mother’s kitchen, my dad whispered to my little brother, “Hide your valuables. Stacy has some guy she met online coming for Thanksgiving dinner.” We embraced for the first time in my parents’ driveway. I was wearing my black cashmere sweater with the...

Keep Reading

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

You’re a Little Less Baby Today Than Yesterday

In: Journal, Motherhood
Toddler sleeping in mother's arms

Tiny sparkles are nestled in the wispy hair falling across her brow, shaken free of the princess costume she pulled over her head this morning. She’s swathed in pink: a satiny pink dress-up bodice, a fluffy, pink, slightly-less-glittery-than-it-was-two-hours-ago tulle skirt, a worn, soft pink baby blanket. She’s slowed long enough to crawl into my lap, blinking heavy eyelids. She’s a little less baby today than she was only yesterday.  Soon, she’ll be too big, too busy for my arms.  But today, I’m rocking a princess. The early years will be filled with exploration and adventure. She’ll climb atop counters and...

Keep Reading

Dear Husband, I Loved You First

In: Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
Man and woman kissing in love

Dear husband, I loved you first. But often, you get the last of me. I remember you picking me up for our first date. I spent a whole hour getting ready for you. Making sure every hair was in place and my make-up was perfect. When you see me now at the end of the day, the make-up that is left on my face is smeared. My hair is more than likely in a ponytail or some rat’s nest on the top of my head. And my outfit, 100% has someone’s bodily fluids smeared somewhere. But there were days when...

Keep Reading

Stop Being a Butthole Wife

In: Grief, Journal, Marriage, Relationships
Man and woman sit on the end of a dock with arms around each other

Stop being a butthole wife. No, I’m serious. End it.  Let’s start with the laundry angst. I get it, the guy can’t find the hamper. It’s maddening. It’s insanity. Why, why, must he leave piles of clothes scattered, the same way that the toddler does, right? I mean, grow up and help out around here, man. There is no laundry fairy. What if that pile of laundry is a gift in disguise from a God you can’t (yet) see? Don’t roll your eyes, hear me out on this one. I was a butthole wife. Until my husband died. The day...

Keep Reading

I Can’t Be Everyone’s Chick-fil-A Sauce

In: Friendship, Journal, Living, Relationships
woman smiling in the sun

A couple of friends and I went and grabbed lunch at Chick-fil-A a couple of weeks ago. It was delightful. We spent roughly $20 apiece, and our kids ran in and out of the play area barefoot and stinky and begged us for ice cream, to which we responded, “Not until you finish your nuggets,” to which they responded with a whine, and then ran off again like a bolt of crazy energy. One friend had to climb into the play tubes a few times to save her 22-month-old, but it was still worth every penny. Every. Single. One. Even...

Keep Reading

Love Notes From My Mother in Heaven

In: Faith, Grief, Journal, Living
Woman smelling bunch of flowers

Twelve years have passed since my mother exclaimed, “I’ve died and gone to Heaven!” as she leaned back in her big donut-shaped tube and splashed her toes, enjoying the serenity of the river.  Twelve years since I stood on the shore of that same river, 45 minutes later, watching to see if the hopeful EMT would be able to revive my mother as she floated toward his outstretched hands. Twelve years ago, I stood alone in my bedroom, weak and trembling, as I opened my mother’s Bible and all the little keepsakes she’d stowed inside tumbled to the floor.  It...

Keep Reading

Sometimes Friendships End, No Matter How Hard You Try

In: Friendship, Journal, Relationships
Sad woman alone without a friend

I tried. We say these words for two reasons. One: for our own justification that we made an effort to complete a task; and two: to admit that we fell short of that task. I wrote those words in an e-mail tonight to a friend I had for nearly 25 years after not speaking to her for eight months. It was the third e-mail I’ve sent over the past few weeks to try to reconcile with a woman who was more of a sister to me at some points than my own biological sister was. It’s sad when we drift...

Keep Reading

Goodbye to the House That Built Me

In: Grown Children, Journal, Living, Relationships
Ranch style home as seen from the curb

In the winter of 1985, while I was halfway done growing in my mom’s belly, my parents moved into a little brown 3 bedroom/1.5 bath that was halfway between the school and the prison in which my dad worked as a corrections officer. I would be the first baby they brought home to their new house, joining my older sister. I’d take my first steps across the brown shag carpet that the previous owner had installed. The back bedroom was mine, and mom plastered Smurf-themed wallpaper on the accent wall to try to get me to sleep in there every...

Keep Reading