Long finds fatherhood a full-time job
It is a transformed lifestyle for Long, who is also the president of the Jamestown Town Council.
Long joined a rock band upon graduation from high school. He toured with the band for 18 years, playing original music and working as a part-time stand-up comic along the way. The band cut a couple of independent albums and enjoyed modest name recognition.
Long found himself facing extensive surgery at at time when the group signed a major record deal and was forced to drop out of the band. Long, then his 30s, moved home to Jamestown in 1986, and worked as a sales manager. Years later, he was forced to stop working altogether for health reasons.
"When I got into my forties, I began thinking I might end up a confirmed bachelor," he remembered. But the fifties became Long's magic decade. He met his love, and got married at 51. Soon after, he and his wife, Dana, announced their expected babies. "It was terrifying. I found out on Labor Day Monday that we were pregnant, and then a week later that it was twins."
The excitement of the double birth reminded him of his first election to the Town Council eight years ago. Not only was he elected, but he became president of the body because he received the most votes of any candidate. "Wow, I didn't sign on to this," he remembered saying to himself.
Long is now in his fourth term and eighth year on the council.
Both he and his wife were home for the first eight months of the girls' new lives. Dana then went to work for American Power Conversion. She travels often, "So I'm here a lot alone with the girls," he said. Long was quick to give credit to his mother, who enjoys her grandchildren living on the same island. "Between friends, they've offered to help many times, and my mother, I have a lot of help. My mom has done a lot," he said.
In retrospect, Long could not imagine any other way to raise a family. He expressed amazement at how much easier two are than one. "It was a blessing. They help each other and they help me," he said.
Hazel-eyed Sophie and blueeyed Jessica are not identical twins, and they turn 3 on April 20. They became potty-trained the same day, and also learned to walk within 24 hours of each other. "That's been the norm around here," he said about their parallel steps in learning.
Long confessed to being "a little more patient at this age." He has found guidance from his nieces and nephews. "Seeing them grow up, I see the ups and downs and positive things that hopefully I can utilize," he noted.
Despite the fears and the physical challenges, Long experienced no difficulty in transitioning into a full-time father's role. "We used to comment about all the things we wouldn't be able to do if we had kids. But we still do the same, just incorporate the girls into our lives," he continued.
According to the March 2002 Current Population Survey from the United States Census Bureau, among two-parent households, 189,000 children are growing up with stay-at-home dads. Long noted the small number, as compared to 11 million children with stayat home moms; yet the number of children living with stay-at-home dads has risen almost 20 percent since 1994.
Like all parents, Long marvels at the emerging personalities in the two girls. But unlike many other parents, Long has noticed the girls developing intuitive skills to help overcome his physical limitations in simple activities. He pointed out how attuned they are to other people's needs, even at the toddler age. He explained how the twins had to do many things for themselves like climbing up onto the changing table for Daddy. "Before they could walk, I couldn't carry them to the car. When they started walking, they needed to climb up into the car by themselves," he said. They also help him do the laundry and other chores that require bending.
Long never questioned whether the task of a stay-at-home dad would be too much physically. "All my life I've had to assess a situation and figure out how to do it," Long said.