I am a stay at home dad. The opportunity to spend a majority of my waking time with Henri, my three-year-old son has been dually chaotic and beautiful. I have gone from the 8-5 world of working and interacting with adults to having an omnipresent boss that is three years old. My self-portrait ultimately represents a shift in identity from working parent to daytime caregiver.
The weekday routine for the safety and life experiences of a preschooler stir up a mixed bag of emotions in both adult and child. Fear, anxiety, boredom, joy and happiness are emotions that seem to intermingle most days. These shared experiences are carefully orchestrated activities such as trips to the zoo, library, parks and other “learning environments”. I search for the epiphanies and teachable moments, however, the roles are often reversed and I’m continually re-taught patience and the skill of slowing down. A spontaneous screaming tantrum forces me to calmly consider my approach, while the unbridled curiosity and innocence of a small child forces me to look differently at our complex world.
In this portrait I have become an amalgamation of father, house and toy. The umbilical chord-like pull string on the cart allows Henri to metaphorically guide me on his journey. A heavy hat of bricks is worn like an article of clothing…perhaps the symbolic uniform for my new occupation. However, the ends of the bricks have begun to deteriorate and slide off of the brow like a drip of sweat; parenting is stressful work! My bobbly head partakes in a pacifier, which insinuates a comfortable acceptance as I roll along participating in the impromptu activities of a preschooler. Lastly, the head is mounted on a pair of shock absorbing springs and enclosed in a collar-like picket fence. The enclosed fence dually symbolizes protection, but also a notion of middle-class perfection, and in this case, the menacing psychological confinement parents surround themselves with to raise a healthy child.