Welcome Home to Being A Dad
Guest Post by Ben Killoy
U.S. Marine Veteran, Podcaster, and Armor Down/Daddy Up! Facilitator
Ten or 20 years from now, what do you think you'll look back on and wish you had done more often?
I've heard it said that the quality of your life is determined by the quality of the questions you ask. And I think this question is about as good as it gets when it comes to being a Dad. I know when I asked myself this question after losing my corporate job on January 26, 2020, an answer came to me almost immediately:
I don't want to trade time and money for memories with my kids anymore.
After serving in the United States Marines, having two jobs since leaving, and doing life like everyone else, I knew at that point it wasn’t working. If I am honest with myself, it had been building up inside me for a while. I had this deep sense that I just wanted to be a Dad. I felt like not many other things I did really compared to the feeling of adventure, memories, or being present that being a Dad offered.
Little did I know at the time that my life was still preparing more tests for me. I had committed to becoming a professional speaker as my next objective in February 2020. I thought this would give me the balance I was looking for in order to be a Dad and provide for my family. But the world was getting ready for an even bigger change with the COVID-19 pandemic.
But through the power of once again answering that question, I concluded being a full-time, stay-at-home Dad was what I would wish for. It was also what was best for my family at the time. With my wife being a kindergarten teacher, it made sense for me to switch roles.
I can now say confidently that 10 or 20 years from now, I will view 2020 as one of the best Dad years of my life. It wasn’t easy and, like many families, the emotions ran high and challenges were never in short supply. But I realized something through this process: emotions are temporary, but the memories are forever.
I have no idea how my kids will remember the past year, but I hope one thing they do remember is that it was the year that Dad came home.
When I look on my phone at the pictures from the past year, I don’t see the hard days. I only see the good ones. And those are the days – the memories I created – for which I choose to be thankful. I have no idea how my kids will remember the past year, but I hope one thing they do remember is that it was the year that Dad came home. "Home" not so much in the physical place our family calls home, but rather where their Dad found his rightful place within himself and, as a result, was able to help us find our place in the world.
Being a stay-at-home dad isn’t for everyone, but I can say that if you decide to go against the norms within your family and society, just ask yourself the question and let yourself really consider it. It might just be something for which your future self will thank you.
Since that winter day in early 2020, I've continued to rework my life, ask better questions, and seek friendship from dads who are ahead of me. It was this one question looking toward my future that helped me gain the opportunities to get up on stage in front of large audiences and speak about Fatherhood, lead two podcasts, and coach other dads about "coming home" to that feeling of being a Dad.
Ben Killoy is a U.S. Marine veteran, husband, and father to three kids, Sophia, 9, Dylan, 6, and Lillian, who is 5 going on 16. He is a speaker, coach, podcaster, and DCG's newest Armor Down/Daddy Up! workshop facilitator. He launched his podcast Military Veteran Dad in 2019. He now spends more quality time with his family as a stay-at-home dad and coach focused on helping high-performing men with thriving business lives but out-of-balance family lives.