By Christina Izzo/The Times of Trenton on April 18, 2013 at 7:30 AM, updated April 18, 2013 at 7:32 AM
From stay-at-home dad to published author and all the laundry in between
ROBBINSVILLE — Scott Benner said he had his first introduction to writing books when he was a child in school.
“We used to write them and bind them and then they would go on a library cart and go from class to class,” he said. “That’s the part I really liked — that the book was somewhere else and someone else was reading it.”
Benner, who grew up in Bucks County, continued writing through his teens and early 20s, trying his hand at writing movie scripts and fiction, but he said he found that he was writing stories that were already written.
“I felt that I didn’t have anything to say,” he said. “I felt that if I kept saying stuff that somebody else had already said, either it isn’t valuable or I’m not at a point yet where I should be doing this.”
But after being a stay-at-home dad for 12 years, Benner said he found something to say.
The now Robbinsville resident’s first book, “Life is Short, Laundry is Eternal,” was released earlier this month by Spry Publishing. It is about Benner’s time as a stay-at-home dad and what he’s learned along the way.
Benner said he never planned to be a stay-at-home dad, but when his wife became pregnant with their first child, Cole, it became clear that someone should stay home to raise their child. “We started looking around at daycare centers and I only got to the first one and I came home and I said to my wife, ‘I don’t think we should do this, one of us should stay home,’” Benner said.
And while traditionally it’s the wife who stays home to raise the kids, Benner said, his wife’s promising career in pharmacuticals left him to be the more ideal choice.
But Benner said he didn’t mind at all.
“I’ve always loved kids,” he said. “I thought, ‘I could be a great stay-at-home dad, this’ll be fantastic.’”
Benner said he quit his job as a graphic designer at a credit union a few months before Cole was born, learned how to change diapers and started his new job as a full-time, stay-at-home dad in early 2000.
Soon he and his wife started talking about having another child, but they decided to wait until Cole was a little bit older.
“The stay-at-home dad thing was going well and I felt that I was good at it in the beginning,” he said. “But I have to admit, Cole was such an easy child after the first few months, there were times that I thought, ‘Am I good at this? Or is he just a really easy kid to take care of and let’s not find out that I’m not good at this by adding another baby to this situation.’”
Five years after Cole was born, Benner said his daughter, Arden, was born.
But in 2006, when Arden was 2 years old, she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.
“I got kind of overwhelmed,” he said. “I struggled for a while and I felt cloudy all the time.”
Knowing that he couldn’t cure his daughter of diabetes, Benner said he searched for ways that he could be helpful to others grappling with the disease.
In 2007, Benner started writing the blog Arden’s Day to help people understand
diabetes, he said.
But only a month after Benner started writing, he realized it did more than help people understand diabetes, it helped support people going through similar situations, he said.
“It wasn’t the writing that got me hooked to the blog,” Benner said. “It was literally the idea that it was helping other people. It helps me that it helps them.”
Benner said his blog also helped improve his writing — and it led to his first book deal.
“Another blogger got a book deal and she asked me to write a sidebar for her book,”
Benner said. “A few months later, through like insane happenstance, I found myself on the phone with her publisher because I hadn’t sent in some information I was supposed to send in.”
“I just remember thinking, ‘When am I ever going to be on the phone with a book publisher again? This is it, man. Go!’” he said.
When the publisher got done explaining to Benner how one gets a book deal, he said he just blurted out his idea.
Benner said the publisher pitched the idea and the next week, he received a call asking for a sample table of contents.
“My wife asked me if I could write a book,” he said. “I told her, ‘I have no idea.’”
But Benner said the whole process came easily to him and he finished writing the book in six months.
“It’s the book I’ve been thinking about for a decade,” he said.
And while Benner said he spends most of his time wiping things off, vacuuming or doing laundry, he said that he sees his stay-at-home duties as part of giving his kids the best launch in life.
“There is no better job,” he said. “I do things that no one sees until they’re not done for them anymore. I don’t think of it as trivial. Someone’s got to be there to remind the kids to take their vitamins and brush their teeth.”
Benner will be at the Hamilton Barnes & Noble at the Hamilton Marketplace today from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. to sign books.
For more information about Scott Benner, his book and his blog, visit www.scottbenner.com