Tim Sull


The Reluctant Stay-At-Home Dad - Poem by Tim Sull

He’s a corporate climber in dapper pinstripes climbing full speed to the top
Until today when his corporate climb will come to an unexpected stop
He presses the pedal of his Porsche with shoes shined to a blinding glow
Thinking with pride of the day’s success how far up the ladder he will go

At home he greets his wife, but she takes the Porsche keys from his hand
She gives him a piece of paper, he reads it, written in his own hand
She points out that he promised ten years before, that on this very day
He would stay at home and she would return to work during the day

His mouth drops open for he is in shock; how long it ago it did seem!
His face turns pale as he realizes that she’s determined to live her dream
They have four children, she has a job she announces with pride and fear
She tells him he can return to work in time, at the end of another ten years

He begs and pleads and storms and cries and yells and tells her it cannot be!
He’s at the peak of success and can’t leave his job! She simply had to see
How can he turn into a stay at home Dad, so near to his corporate prime?
She cannot think he would do this? That promise from another time?

But she is already leaving and he realizes there’s no time to talk or to think
She points to the kitchen; the floor is flooded; the toddlers stopped the sink
She presses the pedal of the Porsche and is out of the driveway and gone
He knows that his life is turned upside down, but the kitchen water is on!

He writhes inside at the unfairness; he is completely shocked and stunned
He looks at the perfect black shoes on his feet, and hears the water run
One of them has to go, the water or his shoes, that is clear enough
He sees the truth: she put on Italian shoes and now he must take his off!

In anger he strips off both wingtips and socks and throws them at the door
Yes, he’s now a stay-at-home daddy and has to mop that kitchen floor
The Armani shoes that separated his soles from the Porsche are gone
Instead he’ll use his humbled bare toes to presses the vacuum “on”

By the end of just two hours, the dapper executive has become a slob
His pinstripes are dropped in a pile, he calls his office to quit his job
He slowly drags the tie off his neck, his cufflinks, French cuffs and shirt
His manicured, sweaty hands now battle with the stubborn war on dirt

He’ll put on and change the diapers on the baby and quiet him when he cries
He’ll keep up with the toddlers and grow a second pair of eyes
He’ll make breakfast with his left hand, and clean up with his right
He’ll have the dinner ready for his wife when she comes home late at night

He’ll learn to do the shopping, and to know the stores you can trust
Which of the sales it’s OK ignore and which of them is a “must”
He’ll watch two hundred and twenty cartoons and he’ll know the TV cooks
He’ll toss the Wall Street Journal and read aloud children’s books

He’s been in charge of corporate deals from his corner office suite
Now he’ll have to make a daily plan for what his children will eat
He’ll throw away his Rolex and ditch the executive style
His wife now uses his briefcase and his frequent flyer miles

He’ll listen for his children’s needs and will try to understand
Their thoughts before they say them and lend his helping hand
He’ll know just how they differ and how they are alike
He’ll teach them how to not be afraid and how to rid a bike

He was a VP of mergers and finance and commanded respect and power
Now he’ll be learning to add eggs and milk and when to stir in the flour
He used to have his gleaming shoes spit-shined by an old shoeshine man
Now he’s barefoot in the kitchen mopping, finding a dry place to stand

He’ll grow his bead to cover the place where he used to wear a silk tie
He’ll throw out his razor and tell his dapper financier image goodbye
No more executive haircuts for him with the perfect, razor-sharp part
No one will care if his hair looks great when he stops by the local Walmart

At first, he’ll wake up to hear his wife drive off at the start of the day
He’ll instinctively reach for a pinstriped suit, and groan as he puts it away
His soles will yearn for his fancy shoes, but no one will notice their glow
He’ll think of the job he has left behind, now seems such a long time ago

He won’t have time as he gathers the trash to brood and wonder and think
Not when the baby is crying and with last night’s dishes in the sink
He’ll hear the garbage truck and then he’ll know there’s no way to avoid
The judgment of so many who will think he’s forced to be unemployed

“So you lost your job! ” says the garbage man with a condescending smirk
“How the mighty have fallen! The hot shot got fired! Now you’re out of work!
I’m used to your fancy pinstripes! You didn’t shave! That’s very sad news!
No Porsche? Ain’t never seen YOU barefoot! No Italian shoes? ”

He’ll get a taste of the judgment that comes to men at home instead of the wife
He’ll see there’s no point in explaining how he came to live this strange new life
He’ll feel he lost prestige and his power, for his energy now will pour
Into making beds, cooking and disinfecting that bathroom floor

He’ll try to wear a suit on occasion, a tie when he goes to the store
He’ll remain an executive somehow even if he’s scrubbing the floor
But reality hits when the children are screaming and the dog kicks over his bowl
No time to think of office life when consumed by his brand new role

So he’ll give away those pinstriped suits, and all his designer neckties
The Hickey Freeman Three Piece – who knows if he’ll still wear that size?
The wingtips custom made for his feet, gold cufflinks and all those dress socks
He used to be an impeccable “suit” but now it’s tee shirts and Birkenstocks

He didn’t think it would come to this when he made that deal with his wife
He thought she’d just forget it and he’d live the corporate life
But she’s enjoying every second of the dream she had kept alive
So he’ll turn into a stay-at-home Dad, and not just survive, but thrive!

It won’t be easy, but he’ll use his brains and his courage to face the day
He’ll love to watch the children grow, and join them in their play
The day will come five years from now when he’s cleaning out the house
He’ll see something shine in the back of the closet and wonder what it could be

He’ll find those Armani shoes from his life as a suit and when he looks inside
He’ll find the black silk Brooks Brothers socks that he used to wear with such pride
He’ll put them on, they’ll feel much too tight, he’ll think of his pinstriped uniform
He’ll think of his desk and his office where expensive shoes are the norm

He’ll think of the world he was pulled from; he’ll take the shoes off again
They belong with a briefcase, a suit and a tie, with the man that he once had been
He’ll shake his head and laugh and look down at his dusty stay-home bare feet
And toss them away as he hears the children looking for something to eat


Comments about The Reluctant Stay-At-Home Dad by Tim Sull

  • (1/27/2008 8:56:00 PM)


    Long read about a loving father and pretty good husband. The rhyme comes across naturally for me, I enjoyed your writing and I'm glad I read this. (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Poem Edited: Tuesday, March 22, 2011


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