A Dad’s Wall of Joy


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I’m not sure if it was Fred, Barney, Wilma or Betty. It could have been Pebbles or Bamm-Bamm. I do know it was grape-flavored and should have gone down my daughter’s esophagus  — not mine.

Each morning, I prepare breakfast for Jessie. If done properly, Jessie eats her Flintstones chewable vitamin and I swallow my daily vitamin for men. Though the directions on the Flintstones bottle read “Adults and children 4 years of age and over,” I’d just as soon swallow the one that better supports my prostate and heart health. However, on two different occasions, I sleepily and without focus took the wrong vitamin. (I like orange better than grape.)

It seems like I was just watching The Flintstones on a black-and-white TV back in the ’60s. With yet another birthday on the horizon, I shake my head in disbelief as to how fast the years have gone by. I’ve lived lots of exciting phases. I had a successful professional career — 12 years in banking, four years in public accounting and five years as an internal auditor. But I wouldn’t trade the past nine years as Mr. Mom for anything, even if I had to eat a chewable vitamin every day.

Parenting is immensely joyful, yet it can also be tiring and challenging. Life was a lot simpler watching The Flintstones. I have wonderful childhood memories ranging from playing ball to taping comic strips to the kitchen walls.

Now that I’m a parent of a soon-to-be tween, I smile when I glance up from my computer and see evidence of my daughter’s happy childhood all over my walls. I remember pre-parenthood, when my office walls held my framed college diplomas, certified public accountant license and several framed photos that I called my Wall of Fame. My Wall of Fame motivated me with reminders of some of my biggest achievements. One picture flaunted my first victory in a singles tennis tournament. Another showed me on water skis as I attempted to impress my girlfriend, Mattie. This undertaking was brave because I didn’t know how to swim, but I still jumped in the lake with my life vest on and Mattie’s brother ready to assist, if necessary. It must have worked because Mattie married me a few years later.

Another picture showed Mattie and me in Florida on a four-wheeler covered in mud as we drove down “Swamp Road,” which was not a road, but an overgrown path through a swamp with water up to our waists in some parts. To say I was way outside my comfort zone would be an understatement.

When I look at my Wall of Fame today, it’s a whole lot different. It now holds pictures of a smiling daughter gripping a tennis racquet, reading a book, hugging her dog, bouncing a basketball, finding an Easter egg and playing in snow. There are drawings and colored pictures, which Jessie and I created both individually and jointly, that serve as reminders of our quality time together. My walls have changed through the years, just as I have. Though I’ve been blessed in all stages of my life, the Mr. Mom years have provided me with many of my best memories. I have the pictures to prove it on my “Wall of Joy.”

As I continue to work to balance my responsibilities as a father, husband, son and writer, I realize there will be highs and lows. You won’t catch me on water skis or a four-wheeler anymore, and I hope to keep my Flintstones chewables intake to a minimum. But mostly, I plan to have lots of “yabba dabba doo” times with my family as I color my walls with memories.

Patrick Hempfing had a 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing before he became a father at age 44. He is now a full-time husband, stay-at-home dad and writer.

Read more fathers' opinions in our Triangle Stay at Home Dads blog.

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July 2019

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Downtown Raleigh
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
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Cost: See website for fees

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2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
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1226 N. White St.
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Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
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Raleigh, NC  27601
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Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

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Cost: $9/resident, $12/nonresident

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2616 Kildaire Farm Rd.
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Cost: $7/nonmember. Free for members and ages 6 and younger.

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405 Brooks St.
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Cost: FREE

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Lake Crabtree County Park
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Sponsor: Lake Crabtree County Park
Telephone: 919-460-3355
Contact Name: Carol Cunningham
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4620 Lake Wheeler Road
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Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: Free

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Durham, NC  27705
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Cost: $5

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5229 Awls Haven Drive
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View map »


Sponsor: City of Raleigh Parks, Recreation and Cultural Resources
Telephone: 919-996-6764
Contact Name: Marti Kane
Website »

More information

Ages 18 months-5 years with special needs enjoy educational and therapeutic toys with caregiver. 

Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
1226 N. White St.
Wake Forest, NC  27587
View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

Where:
Flaherty Park Community Center
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View map »


Website »

More information

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Cost: See website for fees

Where:
Downtown Raleigh
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View map »


Sponsor: LetsRoam!
Telephone: 833-202-7626
Contact Name: LetsRoam!
Website »

More information

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Cost: Free

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4620 Lake Wheeler Road
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View map »


Sponsor: Historic Yates Mill County Park
Telephone: 919-856-6675
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Cost: $7/nonmember. Free for members and ages 6 and younger.

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North Carolina Museum of Art
2110 Blue Ridge Road
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View map »


Website »

More information

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