A Dad’s Wall of Joy
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.