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‘Stay-at-home dad’ suits him fine

Father: German Gonzalez provides his daughters with structure and love

Posted: August 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.
Updated: August 12, 2011 1:55 a.m.

German Gonzalez, a former auto dealership-service adviser, has been a stay-at-home dad to daughters, from left to right, Sarah, 19 months, and triplets Claire, Kate and Jamie, who are almost 3.

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German Gonzalez, of Canyon Country, is used to the stares. It happens at the grocery store, the mall, at the park, whenever he takes his four young daughters out in public.

Kate, Claire and Jamie, who will turn 3 shortly, are triplets. Sarah is just 19 months old. All four are cute as can be, with long, dark hair and big brown eyes.

To say they are Daddy’s girls is an understatement. After all, Gonzalez is the primary caregiver, a stay-at-home dad who prides himself on good food and structure, with plenty of time scheduled in for fun.

“I didn’t think I could pull it off, but I like it. It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity,” Gonzalez said. “I’m really fortunate to have a chance to do this.”

During a trip to Venice Beach, another father told Gonzalez, after asking if all the girls were his, “Guys like you make us normal guys look bad.”

“I didn’t know how to respond,” Gonzalez said.

A family is born
Married to Robin Gonzalez, an insurance underwriter, Gonzalez was once a service adviser for a major automotive dealership.

Shortly after their wedding, Robin Gonzalez underwent in vitro fertilization in order to get pregnant.

The couple was surprised that it worked on the first try, and even more so when an ultrasound revealed triplets.
“It was shock and awe. The look on my husband’s face was priceless,” Robin Gonzalez recalled.

Since Gonzalez had recently been laid off by his employer, it was decided he would stay home with the triplets.
“My income was better, and the payoff versus daycare just made more sense,” Robin Gonzalez said.

She spent five months with her newborns before returning to work.

“It was hard to leave the kids,” Robin Gonzalez said. “At that stage, they just ate, pooped and slept. Now they require a lot more work.”

And a lot more room, especially when little sister Sarah arrived unexpectedly a little more than a year later. Thankfully, the Gonzalez’s were able to relocate to a much larger home from their previous condo in 2009.

A day in the life
Their kitchen is a hub of activity, and where the day’s action usually starts.

Gonzalez wakes up at 6:15 a.m. to change diapers and dress the girls, followed by breakfast, which is usually cereal or oatmeal with berries or organic applesauce.

“They like French toast, but I try not to give it to them more than twice a week,” Gonzalez said.

Diapers get changed again, and it’s time to go outside and play in the yard for 30 to 45 minutes, followed by a snack time of fruits and vegetables.

“Afterwards, they usually talk me into going out again. We’ll go out to the sandbox, or water plants,” Gonzalez said with a smile. “The priority is them, and keeping them interested.”

For lunch, Gonzalez sets up high chairs in the living room for the triplets and puts Sarah in a playpen.

There’s often hummus and crackers or vegetables, accompanied by freshly prepared, often organic chicken, fish or beef, then a piece of fruit.

“We’re really good about not giving the girls junk food. Once in a while, we’ll go get fries from In-N-Out, but that’s pretty rare,” Gonzalez said.

Once they brush their teeth, it’s nap time for the girls and quiet time for Dad. Gonzalez uses the two-hour window to catch up on things around the house, watching the girls slumber from strategically placed monitors.

And 3 p.m. means more snacks and fun time in the large, open living room, where Gonzalez lays out Play Doh, painting supplies and craft-type activities for his girls.

“They love cutting with their little scissors,” he said. “If the weather’s nice, we’ll walk up the hill to a grassy patch, hang out and play.”

Wait for mom
Robin Gonzalez leaves for work every weekday morning at 5:30 a.m. to her Downtown Los Angeles office.

She returns every evening at 4:30 p.m. to an excited audience.

“The girls jump up and down, screaming when I get home,” she said.

On bath nights, Robin Gonzalez hops in the tub and receives two daughters for shampooing, soaping and playing with bubbles.

Her husband alternately takes one girl out of the tub, gets her dressed and ready for bed, before replacing with another in the tub.

“Bath nights are hectic, it’s like a conveyor belt,” Gonzalez said.

Bed time is 7:30 p.m. No exceptions.

“My schedule is sacred to me,” he said.

As she helps tuck her daughters in, Robin Gonzalez will often hear, “Mommy work?” and gets choked up.

“Emotionally, it’s difficult to be away from your children, but after the weekend, I’m ready to go back to work. It’s the ideal situation. German is amazing with the kids,” she said.

He’s a great husband, too, as Robin Gonzalez noted.

The whole family will go out to restaurants about three nights a week; otherwise, German Gonzalez not only cooks dinner for the kids, but for his wife, as well, and it’s some pretty serious gourmet fare.

“My favorite is steak-and-wine night. He’ll make filet mignon with grilled asparagus and a mustard lemon sauce with roasted pine nuts and Spanish rice,” she said dreamily, smiling at her husband.

“Robin loves my cooking,” Gonzalez said proudly.

To repay her husband’s kindness and hard work, Robin Gonzalez watches her daughters while German Gonzalez enjoys a fun day with the guys each weekend.

“My friends are blown away. They didn’t think I could do it, but it’s going on three years,” Gonzalez said. “I have a son who’s 23, and I didn’t do much for him growing up. Getting to see the girls grow up is really special.”

Characters
Both parents describe their daughters in the same way.

Kate, who’s the oldest triplet, is very affectionate, sensitive and cries easily.

Claire, the middle born and an identical twin to Kate, is very helpful with adults and an “ambassador of goodwill.”

Jamie, the youngest triplet, is a linguist who is already talking up a storm and known as the “speaker of the house.”

Young Sarah is the feisty firecracker who wants to be the same age as her sisters and tries to keep up with their every move.

“Watching them grow is my favorite part,” Gonzalez said as he watched his daughters play in the living room. “They express themselves in such different ways. Some times, they’ll fight for toys or space and get a time out, but most of the time they are very polite with each other.”

The only time Gonzalez gets flustered from his routine is when one or more of his daughters get sick.

Then start the phone calls to his wife’s office. It’s one of the few times she is consulted on parenting, according to Robin Gonzalez.

“He’s very proud to take care of the girls, and he thinks he’s 100-percent right about them. I don’t always agree, but it works,” she said. “I can’t argue that they’re Daddy’s girls.”

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