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What Mums Deal With – a Dad’s Perspective
My life was always good; at least since I met the beautiful woman I am proud to call my wife. Work came easily to me and I am lucky to be well paid for doing what I love. It was like this for many years until; I recently became unemployed. It was a bitter shock and the realization that life is not always as easy as I had come to believe, but as life would have it, instead of being the worst times of my life, it was one of the best – a real shock to the system – without a doubt, but still one of the best. I would like to share some of these experiences with you, you see, I have 4 children under the age of 5 (no twins here!) and being able to see my family without work getting in the way changed my whole outlook on life.
I became unemployed 4 weeks ago. Earning a decent income meant my wife could stay at home (which was lucky because she said she’d never work again when we got married!), but it also meant we, like most people, lived a little higher. our devices. This is great while the income lasts, but once it dries up, you realize how much money you need each month just to pay the bills! This is when reality hits you and you become more than a little nervous.
Still, I was paid well and we calculated that our savings would see us through 6-8 weeks. Fortunately, I was soon offered a job just over a week later, so I was able to do something I had always wanted to do. I really enjoyed my family.
The first few days were difficult for me. Our oldest son (age 4.5) just started school and that meant the next son (age 2.5) just lost his favorite playmate. It’s weird, but I never really understood what a great babysitter an older sibling can be on the weekends. But it sure didn’t take me long to figure it out!
The little 2.5-year-old and his sister (1.5 years old) suddenly needed a new playmate. Someone who could tell them what to do, teach them how to play, and generally entertain them. Wait…I didn’t know it was going to be like this? I think my wife made the most of the situation by having an extra pair of hands around and so I started diapering – 5 dirty diapers just during school time? And the youngest (4 months old) seems to be able to get more “stuff” out of his diaper and on his back than the laws of physics will allow! This is not good??? This? Every day? My wife looked at me with amused sympathy. He confirmed that yes, every day, but thought it would improve over the next week.
So the first week was spent worrying about when the cash would start flowing again AND trying to remember how to play dominoes or teaching an enthusiastic little girl to play Matchbox cars while the 2.5 boy served tea from the little girl’s tea set. . Is it just me or is the world messed up somewhere?
Oh, and how can I forget to mention, the little one at 2.5 has his final teeth (molars), the little one at 1.5 canines, molars and more, and the little one at 4 months has just started the “teeth journey”? You can’t even imagine the noise of 3 children screaming at the same time from the pain of cutting their teeth!!! Give me a busy subway or mall – PLEASE!
Somehow I survived. I couldn’t wait for the end of school when my “babysitter” came home and took up a lot of the other children’s time, but I still had to change them, feed them, shower them, read books and play games that all 3 kids played 4 months by a little. watch. I was really exhausted every night.
I look back as I write these words and wonder why was this? My wife was there too. Didn’t you do anything? Then I remember, it’s true – she was breastfeeding, washing, ironing, cleaning, shopping, running the kids around, and the usual things a mom does! But if we were both completely busy… how does that work? He usually does these things alone! not true?
Wow. Talk about a whole new respect for motherhood.
Not only did he manage to do this alone for so many years, but he also raised wonderful children. They are curious, polite, well behaved and have excellent manners. You might think I’m just biased, but we get a lot of feedback like this.
My wife really did a wonderful job. I know I’m helping, but it’s nothing compared to what you accomplish every day.
By the end of the week, my previous lifestyle was forgotten, I started to relax a little. My phone rang very rarely and I moved forward on job opportunities when they presented themselves. At the beginning of the week I felt that my phone wasn’t ringing enough, but by the end of the week I didn’t really notice it anymore.
Okay, even though I’m pretty much immune to the stink of a very full diaper by now, I was really looking forward to the second week when my wife happily informed me that the frequency of dirty diapers would decrease. At the time, I never really thought about how it would work, I just took him at his word. I keep forgetting how stupid I can be.
My wonderful wife decided that since I was home and able to help, she wanted to take the opportunity to start the little 2.5 toilet. It was around this time that I started to see the potential problem! We put off potty training as we were settling into a new home, had another baby, went away for Christmas and her brother started school. Now it seemed obvious to start (to my wife anyway!).
Day 1 was really good. He had already guessed when he needed to use the toilet and the day was going pretty well. There was only one accident where he fell asleep on the floor before we could put a diaper on him, but overall we were very pleased. I was doubly happy, as all my concerns seemed completely unfounded.
Day 2 I was really excited as I had only changed 4 dirty diapers the day before and it was a relief to have that number down. The only problem was that the little 1.5 now decided to start taking off her diaper too, since she was a big girl and didn’t need it. Unfortunately, she’s a small girl and the toilet is too big even with a child’s seat…but her brother doesn’t use the potty, so why?
What a disaster.
Accidents everywhere. In my office(!), in the living room, in the kitchen, on my lap. Okay, they were only #1, but it’s just not pleasant to discover you’re walking to the fridge with bare feet! I swear he would do it on purpose too. It was like a little jug of water at his feet, but it never runs out. I think I counted 4 at one stage in an hour. There’s nothing you have to deal with like this in the office. My biggest problem was whether the cleaner wiped down my desk under my paperwork or just around it! I know this was probably completely normal for many, but it was completely foreign to me.
Then, just before tea, came the first ‘bomb’ – literally. That’s when my brother-in-law’s words hit me. Once they start eating what we eat when they go to the toilet, it’s just as bad as if we just did it on the floor. GROSS!
On the 3rd day we tried to keep his diaper on, but on the 4th we gave up. Disposable diapers are a great idea, but the only downside is that children can work with them. So day 4 was similar, but on day 5 he started using the potty himself and was very proud of the deposits.
You know, there’s a sense of accomplishment when you see the light in those little eyes when they know they’ve done it right. He proudly displayed his achievements and received considerable praise for a job well done. His brother also did very well and was equally ecstatic on the first day when he proudly announced that there had been no accidents.
My life had changed and I was too distracted by these strange and unfamiliar events to notice. I first realized this when I looked at my children at the end of the second week and saw 4 perfect and wonderful young people standing in front of me for the first time. Each thirsts for knowledge and excitement, each has its own thoughts and perspective on things. This was my family. It was an amazing revelation and it really hit me.
Week 3 and accidents are down. Playtime was easier and meeting all their personal needs was a given. When my phone rang, it was annoying now, even though I still hadn’t secured any work. The kids and I even started working into a little routine. I started looking for ways to help my wife around the house as well, and she (while redoing some of the things I did wrong) said she really appreciated it. I was used to being congratulated by executives and senior managers for an excellent presentation or successful completion of a project, but this was different. I realized that even though we had a great relationship, these weeks brought us closer together. I had a better understanding of what she was doing and a better appreciation for the effort it takes to be a good mom – and she was the best.
Nearing the end of week 4, I successfully found a job and will be starting in just over a week. While it took a load off my shoulders, it also made me feel sorry for myself. I would go back to that life again, I was always busy, always tough, and I found it much less appealing to me now. While I have to work to make ends meet, it really made me start thinking about how I could make it possible for me to have more free time to spend with my kids.
Now my children run to me and we love being around each other. I know I will miss them more than anything and I will miss my wife more than ever when I am not home. I am very glad that I spent this time with them. It was one of the most precious times of my life and I will always cherish those memories.
As a result of these few weeks, I had two major revelations:
1. I realized that if I don’t have to go to the office, I’m happy to help my wife with her work. Because our children grow up together, this is a job where the challenges are constant and constantly changing.
2. I could have been rich if I had invented the disposable diaper, or Bonjella (really amazing stuff for gum pain relief).
I’ve also made some changes to stick to and my daily list will now include:
– I always thank my wife for doing everything she does and for being who she is
– Always take the time to talk to each child individually and find out about their day
…and the most important…
– I buy a lottery ticket every week
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