From Manhattan to Mr. Mom

David Quisenberry tends to a morning campfire with his daughters.

David Quisenberry tends to a morning campfire with his daughters.

By David Quisenberry

I never thought I’d be a stay-at-home dad when I became a father in October of 2008. I worked in midtown Manhattan for a large financial firm that invested hundreds of billions of dollars of wealth across the United States.

I worked a lot. My train left at 5:47 a.m. and took me home at 5:42 p.m. to make a 6:30 dinner. I thought my job was to provide for my new family.

Fast forward a move, an exploration and social entrenchment into Portland, Oregon, the launching of a wealth management practice, and a divorce, and I find myself today someone who both works part time and primarily takes care of our two daughters.

What is it like to be a stay-at-home divorced dad?

A lot of laundry. For some reason, everything keeps getting smaller and smaller in size. Several trips to the grocery store each week. A Odyssian quest to find nutrition among the aisles of Fred Meyer, New Seasons, Safeway. Falling prey to the siren call of hamburgers, burritos, and chicken nuggets. Feeling guilty.

Older daughter Astraea models a braid done by her dad. Estimated completion time: 5 minutes.

Older daughter Astraea models a braid done by her dad. Estimated completion time: 5 minutes.

Learning about hair. How to braid, make buns, do fancy braids, do fancy buns. Trying to get my youngest to let me brush her hair or at least brush her own. Hoping they can get out of the house without looking like Pippi Longstocking. Feeling guilty.

A deluge of papers. Nowadays (or perhaps this has always been the case since the papyrus), schoolchildren bring home at least five pieces of paper a day from school. Information from the teachers, fact sheets about summer camps, charity fundraisers, artwork, homework, book lists, school supplies, field trip forms, etc. It’s like going twice to the mail box.

My car is a mess. Kids sit in it. They eat stuff. You know where that goes.

Matchmaker. Maybe it’s just me, but my experience (generally) as an adult in a new city is if I want to make friends and do something with someone, I have to make it happen and take the initiative. It’s the same way with kiddos. If I want my daughters to have friends they play with outside of school, I have to take the lead in helping them write little notes to put in cubbies and connect the parents to arrange the play date. It’s just one more thing I’ve got to do each week and stay on top of or the time drifts by and playdates don’t happen.

Younger daughter Verona undergoes survivalist training at Forest Park.

Younger daughter Verona undergoes survivalist training at Forest Park.

All that said, I love it. I love the conversations with my daughters in my messy car as we come home from school and I hear the whir of their brains, and feel the giggle of their toes. I love the feeling of their Lilliputian hands inside mine as we walk to school in the mornings. I love being around them and hearing their free play in the background while I do dishes, laundry, my other job.

And it doesn’t hurt that I get to wear yoga pants more often either.

David Quisenberry is a father of two daughters, an independent financial planner/advisor, and a past board member at the Dougy Center for Grieving Children where he met George.


Editor’s note: Aside from being a great dad, David is one of the most cerebral people I know. He is a Voracious reader (with a capital V) and a former hockey player who grew up in the Midwest. Next season, I look forward to going with him to another Portland Winterhawks game or two.

Tomorrrow: “What we’ve lost” by Gil Rubio


8 thoughts on “From Manhattan to Mr. Mom

  1. I can so relate to the part about learning hair. My wife goes to work early in the morning, leaving me to tend to two boys and a long-haired girl. I have watched hundreds of YouTube videos attempting to learn how to braid hair or do buns. Normally I’m an excellent learner. I consider hair my great failure.

    • Your girls are very blessed to have such an involved dad. I’m the product of a single dad and he is my best friend. (And my husband can sympathize with the five minute braid. I try to do our girl’s hair before I leave for work so she has half a chance of not looking like a ragamuffin.)

  2. Your Verona is also a Diana of the Hunt, I see. Ted Nugent would be proud. Luckily I’m bald. I would be lost doing hair. Good job, dad.

  3. Cheers to Lilliputian hands, play dates, piles of mail, yoga pants and constantly feeling guilty.
    Glad I’m a single mom of boys with hair that doesn’t need fixing. It helps with the guilt.

  4. A man who also is a father who puts his children first = pretty spectacular human being. Those two cuties of yours will grow up having the most-amazing concept of how a man ought to be … you seem to be setting pretty high standards for their future husbands.

  5. I relate so much to the sights and sounds of two lively little girls that you describe in your piece, as I too am a father of two daughters. I have convinced myself that those of us men who specifically have two daughters MUST be blessed in a way that others can’t claim. I can not verify this claim scientifically, but my experience has been so enriching, disarming, and heart-warming that I can’t imagine it were not so. I have a secret habit when I am in public of taking special note of families with two girls, and congratulating them (in my mind, of course) for their good fortune.

  6. The braid is impressive! Beautiful picture of your girls by the campfire. I remember my Dad used to be like that. You are all so blessed to have each other!

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