Eric Holsworth has been juggling being a stay-at-home dad well before the pandemic hit.
Because of adversities related to his health, he and his wife, Jacy, decided it was best that she keep her job as a controller and Eric would assume the responsibilities related to the household, including taking care of his two sons.
The 45-year-old has been doing it for the last 12 years and has some words of wisdom for other men, who may now be at home and facing the same challenges.
Many of these lessons were learned during a time when Holsworth faced a series of traumas within a seven-year period. The first happened when he was 16.
Holsworth had just qualified to represent the Midwest as one of the top jet ski stand-up racers in Arizona. While practicing, he was run over in the St. Joseph River near the IPFW campus, suffering head injuries. A buddy pulled his floating body out of the water right before he went over the dam.
Holsworth did recover only to be hit in a drunken-driving crash two years later. He recovered from that as well.
Then his father, a Fort Wayne police detective, died in 1996. In 1997, that Holsworth was diagnosed with Crohn's, an inflammatory bowel disease, and 1999, Hashimoto's thyroid disease, an autoimmune disease in which the immune system attacks the thyroid.
While at the Cleveland Clinic, Holsworth was told that he had the worst case of Crohn's doctors had ever seen and wanted to remove his colon at age 22. He decided to leave the hospital and face the future at home.
Through it all, Holsworth kept telling himself that things could be worse and that he would be the exception to the rule of debilitation and possible death.
Holsworth says he has made the commitment to be all-in when it comes to his family and marriage despite his ailments.
As a former owner of two landscaping businesses, he admits that he was a workaholic. However, his Crohn's disease forced him to leave those professions. But now he is using his skills in a different way.
Holsworth puts into his home the same drive and perfection he applied toward running his businesses. He says every stay-at-home father should recognize that he is using his talents in the same way at home. “You are the same man at home that you were at work,” he says.
Of course, that has come with adjustments. “Twelve years ago, when I took my son to the park, the other mothers would stare at me like I was going to hurt their kids,” Holsworth says. “But over time the lifestyle of what I was doing has become more common place.”
His biggest piece of advice is never give up.
“So, for any man now at home, whatever you are that makes you successful at your job take it into your home. For me it meant I had to have projects I really enjoyed doing besides rocking our son, Traxx, doing laundry and the cooking.”
Some of those projects include setting up a fountain in his backyard that feeds 24,000 gallons of water through it an hour. He also built a fence, figuring out a less expensive way to have the 8-foot boards and creating his own stain, saving nearly $8,000.
By doing as much as he can himself, he manages to keep expenses down and uses his business skills to help with finances.
But Holsworth admits being a stay-at-home dad is hard at times, especially when his buddies don't understand what he does or he doesn't have a lot in common with guys at parties who ask him what he does for a living.
Unlike a traditional job for a man or woman, all his efforts are put into the home and children, which he may not see come to fruition until years later.
“I was lucky to have a great dad, and while I only had him for 19 years, he poured everything he wanted me to know into me,” Holsworth said. “Being a great dad means living every day with your family thinking that you might live forever but living each day like it is your last. At home, we avoid phones and social media to spend those moments with one another.”
Holsworth said it's vital that he and his wife remember they are on the same team and they support each other.
“Eric has the same qualities of honesty, optimism and making the best in all situations at 25 that he now has at 45,” Jacy says.
But most of all, Holsworth emphasizes that he is not a “mom.” “I am a dad. I bring that perspective into the home. I didn't coo and speak baby talk to my infant but I taught him words by naming the tools in my garage,” he said. “We played AC/DC not Disney.”