I recently took a road trip up to East Lansing, MI to get fitted for a tuxedo for a wedding I was in.Â I went to Michigan State University so I never mind a reason to go up and drive through campus.Â It really is a beautiful campus.Â And even though it’s been almost a decade since I graduated, it still feels like it was just last year.Â Going back to campus feels like going home.Â And I figured if I timed it right, I could catch a rehearsal and show Ellie the marching band.Â Yes, I said marching band.Â I’m a band nerd through and through. Â I was in the marching band in high school, and I was in the drumline of the Spartan Marching Band for two years as well.Â With Ellie loving and reacting to music so much lately, I thought it’d be a great idea for her to see the marching band.
I have to say, walking through campus with a stroller was a totally different experience.Â Usually on a game day you’ll see all kinds of families and strollers, but this was a Wednesday.Â Students were playing Frisbee, walking around with massive back packs, and laying on the grass sunning themselves.Â And then along comes me with my kid in the middle of it all. Â We were invisible to them though.Â The baby factor sure doesn’t seem to work on a college campus.Â I guess it’s all about context.
By the time I got fitted for my tux and got to the practice field, all the cool drumline stuff was done.Â The band was working on drill for their first half-time show and was just repeating a few sets at a time.Â But to my surprise, Ellie still loved it!Â She sat down on the grass and watched intently.Â Every time the band finished a set and the music stopped, she’d clap and then wait for more. Â After about twenty minutes of quietly watching, the band took a water break and that was our cue to exit.
But before we left, I figured I should say hello to my old drum instructor.Â It’s always extremely awkward for me when I have to explain to people what I do for a living.Â Especially to other men.Â It took me a long enough time to feel comfortable saying I was an interior designer.Â It seems most people think about curtains and selecting decorative pillows (which is not what I did) when they hear “interior designer.”Â So I would usually say, “I work at an architectural firm.”Â Eventually I would come out and say interior designer. Â But now, announcing you’re a stay-at-home dad, it just puts me face-to-face with all my insecurities.
So I took a deep breath and walked up to the drum instructor who was with some other staff and said hello.Â And after not seen each other in ten years, the obvious first question he asked was, “So what do you do for a living?”Â Ugh, I hate this part.Â “I got laid-off and now this is my job,” I said as I pointed to Ellie.Â After an awkward pause, “So what did you do?” he asked. Â I skipped over the interior designer part and just focused on the keys words that I think make my former job sound cooler than it was.Â Architecture, travel, and Vegas.
We all stretch our job descriptions don’t we?Â We all embellish our “resumes” a bit right?Â Even my “about me” section here on the blog I tried to make it sound cooler than reality.Â I mention that I traveled a lot, which I did for about two years, but not at the time when I was laid-off.Â And while I did travel to Vegas and New York a lot, I only went to Paris once.
After we got through that part, we started talking about common people we knew and how successful they were.Â Who had doctorate degrees, who had Hollywood success, etc.Â I felt like I was hanging out with a bunch of doctors and lawyers and I was just a lowly bag boy at a grocery store.Â “Well it was good to see you guys again,” I said and walked on.Â Nobody was rude or said anything negative.Â They responded probably how I would have if I was in their position.Â For the most part I’ve learned to be more secure in my role and be proud of it, but every once in awhile, a situation arises that bruises my ego.Â I realize it’s not just men that have careers. Â I imagine many women find themselves in the same situation after “giving up” a good career to stay home and raise their children.Â But whether they’ve decided to stay-at-home, or to continue working, there is silent judgment all around us.Â Sometimes it’s just hard to tell if it’s from the outside, or all internal.
I swallowed my pride, picked up Ellie and headed out.Â I was anxious to get off campus as my spirit for my alma mater had faded.Â Maybe next time we’ll come up on a game day when there is a more stroller friendly crowd.Â Or maybe I need to embellish and make this job seem way cooler that it can be.Â We’ll show up wearing our matching AC/DC shirts and red shoes next time.Â That’ll be my stay-at-home version of saying I went to Vegas a lot.