Monday, October 22, 2012

rad sahd, guest blogger kevin jensen

& often rocking a fabulous colored denim. . . . 

it occurred to me a month or two ago that kevin jensen was maybe the only true stay-at-home dad i've ever met, both in terms of the quantity and the quality of the time he spent at home raising small children.  he told me about some of his experiences and i realized kevin is definitely a dude deft at navigating tight spaces, and that i really wanted him to blog for us.  kevin's a fantastic dad who seems to have the energy of two and a half people--he manages play dates, coaches his kids' soccer teams, performs massive home improvement projects, now has a full-time job, owns a collection of fabulously colored jeans and somehow always has time left over to party and hang out with friends.

Are you in a tight place?  If so, what are you doing about it?

Hmmm . . . I guess that depends on how you define being in a tight place.  I define it as being in a place that is outside your comfort zone.  With that definition in mind, I feel like I live in a tight place.  As a father of four children and the husband of a university professor, I generally feel like I am moving from one tight place to another. 

What am I doing about it?  I have learned to live in tight places and embrace them. 

In order to understand my tight places a little better, let me back up a bit to 2001.  I was happily working for a company that was quickly growing. My wife had recently finished the course work for her PhD and given birth to our first child.  Life was good, really good.  Until it wasn’t.  A few months later, the company I worked for started to fall apart.  We tried to keep our dying business alive for several months, but in the end the whole industry completely collapsed and we had to walk away.

Meanwhile, my wife was busy being a new mother, writing her dissertation, and teaching an evening school class at Brigham Young University.  As I was trying to resuscitate my career, she was offered a full-time tenure track position at the University.  Suddenly we had a big decision to make.  At that point we knew she would take the position, but deciding what I would do was the most difficult decision of my life.  In the end I chose to put my career on hold and stay at home with our children.

Being an “at-home dad” in Provo, Utah has been the ultimate tight place.  I could fill a book about the challenges of stepping into this role when I did and where I did.  From the beginning I was thrust into uncomfortable situations, almost daily.  I found myself learning the skills I needed to run a household, but was never taught as a young man preparing for a career.  I found myself in a community where I was accepted by some and completely shunned by others because of my lifestyle choice.  I found myself crossing both real and imagined societal and religious boundaries all the time.  For years, living this way drained me emotionally, but over time I started to recognize the new person I was becoming because of the pressure of constantly being in tight places, and I liked the changes.

A couple of years ago, after a decade at home, I decided to go back into the workforce.  Again, this was a tough decision to make.  I had found comfort in my role at home.  Things were going well, but I felt myself slipping into complacency as an individual, so I went out and created a tight place for myself.  A place to change and grow.

As the years have passed, the uncomfortable situations have changed, but I have found that being in a tight place is part of being a parent, a spouse, and an individual.  Stepping away from where I am comfortable, to where I need to be to feel happy and fulfilled is always challenging, but the most rewarding way I have found to live my life.

What do you want to get done this year?

This upcoming year I want to be more creative.  For years, being creative was what helped me feel comfortable in my tight places.  It was how I felt freedom and individuality as an at-home parent of young children. The past couple of years, because of changes in my career, I have exercised that creativity less and less.  I need to get my groove back.  I need to be me. 

What inspires you?  

Passionate people.  I am admittedly an emotional person.  This has gotten me into trouble at times in my life, but over the years I have become quite comfortable being the guy that wears his heart on his sleeve.  Nothing inspires me more than people who love what they do and are comfortable being themselves and pursuing that passion without regard for what others think.

What's your favorite legwear? 

Oh, this is easy.  Denim for sure.  Right now, my employment requires me to dress up and conservatively every single day.  When I get home I tend to embrace dressing in the exact opposite way and nothing is better than a great, colorful pair of jeans.  

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