“A Job Like No Other” by Patrick Hempfing
This story appears in the anthology “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Working for a Living.”
I had a successful 20-year professional career in banking, accounting and auditing. During those “bring home a check” days, I interacted with different types of people and experienced a little bit of everything. My relationships with coworkers were always the best part of my job, but I also had daily contact with customers.
As a bank branch manager, I made customers happy when I approved their loan requests. Conversely, others left my office disappointed and grumbling when I had to decline their applications. Who wouldn’t enjoy playing with money for a living? I counted hundreds of thousands of dollars during my banking days. OK, the fact the money belonged to the bank and not me took away a bit of zest from the experience.
Later, I earned my college diploma as a nontraditional student. Not afraid of grueling experiences, obtaining a CPA license was next on my list. I can’t say the four killer tax seasons were the highlight of my professional career. Get up and be on the job before sunrise. Work. Drink lots of coffee. Work. Drink lots of soda. Work. Go home in the dark. Kiss wife, sleep, and begin the process all over again. This described the first quarter of each year, a time when I romanced the coffee maker and soda machine more than my wife, Mattie. The dialogue with Mattie consisted more of moans and grunts than cohesive sentences. However, tax seasons always ended with a big party, and the rest of the year was more conducive to a happy marriage.
The moans and grunts continued after I switched careers again and became an internal auditor at a university. Usually, though, the noises came from the clients I audited. No one likes to see the auditor coming, so I didn’t always feel the love. One client even nicknamed me “Columbo,” as I always seemed to have another question.
Then, in 2004, Mattie gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Jessie. At age 44, I began yet another new job, this time as Mr. Mom. No, I didn’t bring home a paycheck, but I didn’t sit on the sofa and eat bonbons either. Nearly 10 years later, I can safely say being a stay-at-home dad has been the most demanding, and most rewarding, of my four jobs—without question.
Does it pay well? Not in dollars and cents, but in a lifetime of memories. How do the hours compare? Sixty to 80 hours per week during tax seasons were a piece of cake compared to the 24/7 rigors of Mr. Mom-hood. What noises do I hear? Oh, there have been plenty of comments of displeasure, and moans and grunts, as in my previous jobs. There has also been considerably more crying and a greater variety of fits, and I haven’t even reached Jessie’s teenage years. With that said, I wouldn’t trade a single minute of my past 10 years watching my daughter grow from baby to toddler to almost a tween.
The job of Mr. Mom never gets boring, either. Each day, I wear numerous hats, some at the same time. Stay-at-home parenting requires not only the ability to multitask, but also the capacity to deal with ambiguous, rapidly changing conditions. I knock out some chores with no problem, while others require a bit more persistence. But I’m a patient guy by nature. However, although some tasks go as planned, other seemingly-simple undertakings quickly turn precarious and can be more difficult to predict than a customer’s likelihood of defaulting on a loan.
When Jessie was three years old, she took Kindermusik classes at our church, and she always enjoyed them. I did, too, as Jessie was happy, learning and having fun. It didn’t matter that I was the only man who was clapping, singing, jumping and holding hands with the rest of the Kindermusik moms and kids. I’m sure my tenor voice stood out on more than one occasion.
Jessie’s Kindermusik class immediately preceded my evening tennis league. Being a good planner, I dressed in my tennis shorts, shirt and sneakers, packed my racket and water bottle and headed directly to the courts as soon as the class ended. Mattie met me at the courts and took Jessie home. On this particular day, Jessie and I rode up the church elevator with a little boy in the class and his mom. I wore a white T-shirt and gray tennis shorts. The string that supplemented the elastic waist on my shorts had come out in the laundry. I didn’t see a need to throw away the shorts as they still fit nicely, so I continued wearing them, minus the string.
As the elevator started moving up, Jessie reached over to hold on to me. Unintentionally, she grabbed my shorts pockets from both sides and before I knew it, my stringless shorts were down below my knees. I yelled, “Jessie!” with only a jockstrap covering my assets. My T-shirt provided no help. Speechless and highly embarrassed, I quickly pulled up my shorts.
The mother in the elevator, who I’m sure saw my red face, along with a whole lot more of me, tried to put me at ease. She told me, “Oh, my son has pulled my blouse down on more than one occasion.” As a “bean counter,” I only had to worry about debits and credits, not exposing myself to the public. Let’s face it—all jobs are like an elevator. They all have their ups and downs.
When Jessie began Pre-K, I decided to pursue a writing career while continuing to tackle the responsibilities of a stay-at-home parent. So far so good, except for the time I fell out of my desk chair and sprained my ankle . . . but that’s another story.
I’ll continue working hard to have a successful career while remaining a positive and often-present force in my daughter’s life. I’m sure lots of exciting roles are in my future, like being a driver’s education instructor and intimidating potential suitors. I plan to sign a few book deals, too. Of course, I’ll be putting out the “fires” each day as a stay-at home parent. Just the other night, I accidentally stepped on Jessie’s doll and broke her leg. I superglued it back in place. I’m not making any guarantees on how long it will stay fastened, but I know when I handed Jessie her doll with two attached legs, her smile was worth a million dollars.
I love this job . . . especially when the sounds I hear are giggles, I’m fully clothed and each of Jessie’s dolls has two legs.
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 author of “moMENts,” a nationally self-syndicated column about the joys and challenges of fatherhood. Follow him at patrickhempfing.wordpress.com, Twitter: @PatrickHempfing
Again, this story appears in “Not Your Mother’s Book…On Working for a Living.” The book is filled with 59 very funny stories by working stiff. Purchase this book today from your favorite retailer, Amazon (http://amzn.to/1yNYujU) or Barnes & Noble (http://bit.ly/1xXyrVR).
To submit your stories for consideration in future NYMB titles, go to http://www.PublishingSyndicate.com and click on the “Not Your Mother’s Book” tab.