By BECKY STOPPA
NO BREAKS: He loves watching his kids grow up but also wants to enjoy interaction with other adults.
WASILLA — Adam Imperato loves his job. Once a pharmaceutical tester in Grand Rapids, Mich., the 29-year-old Wasilla man is a stay-at-home dad.
He tends to his house and children while his wife, Crystal, a doctor at Mat-Su Regional Medical Center, tends to patients.
Adam cleans and catches up on household chores while the children, Braden, 3 1/2, and Cade, 22 months, nap or watch TV.
When the work is done, the three spend their time playing with toys or going to parks and playgrounds.
But the job has its drawbacks, Imperato said.
“There’s no break. It’s 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” he said. “You don’t get a vacation.”
He’s looking for other stay-at-home dads to commiserate with.
He hopes to form a dads group, much like one he formed and left behind in Michigan.
With regular playgroup times and dads’ nights out, the group would serve as a social outlet for dads and children alike, Imperato said.
Adam has been a stay-at-home dad since Braden was about 5 months old. Until that point, Braden had gone to day care.
But with Adam’s job an hour’s commute away from their home in Grand Rapids and Crystal still in medical school, Braden’s time there often topped 10 hours — a fact both Imperatos found unsettling.
“He rolled over for the first time in day care,” Adam said.
“You picked him up and you basically had to get an update about what your kid was doing — things you should know,” Crystal said.
They decided Braden’s days in day care would end once Crystal finished medical school.
“We didn’t want our son being raised by someone else,” Adam said.
He left his job and took up full-time child-rearing as soon as Crystal became an intern.
Since her income then surpassed his by about $10,000 a year, “It just made more sense” for those duties to fall to him, he said.
“It was tough at first. You get weird looks with the notion of being a stay-at-home dad,” Adam said. “But I don’t care; it’s what I do. It helps out my kids, helps out my family and my kids love it.”
And he loves “being at home with the kids, seeing them grow up,” he says.
But after a while he longed for adult interaction. He joined a group for stay-at-home moms. The group featured regular get-togethers and play dates for the children.
“The moms group had its charm,” he said. But it wasn’t right for him and Braden.
“It was like he didn’t see other dads staying home. I wanted him to know other dads can stay at home too and I wasn’t some kind of weirdo,” he said.
He decided to start a group of his own. It began in 2006 with only one other father. Within a year the group numbered 43.
The men met twice a week for play groups with their children. They’d take them on outings to places like the zoo or to museums, parks and playgrounds, or they’d meet in one another’s homes.
“Basically the kids played while the dads talked,” he said.
The men designated one night a month as “dad’s night out.”
Sometimes they’d go skiing or snowboarding together; other times they’d go to arena football games or baseball games.
“I think the one difference was that the dads group is more male-oriented, more towards what guys like, I guess,” Adam said.
Some 50 fathers belong to the group now, he said.
The Imperatos moved to the Valley this summer, after Crystal accepted a position at Mat-Su Regional. The family is happy here, but Adam says he and the children miss their old friends in Grand Rapids.
Though he’s not met any stay-at-home dads yet, he’d like to start a group here as well.
“Braden keeps asking me when are we going to go out with the dads group,” he said.
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