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What Mums Deal With – a Dad’s Perspective
My life has always been good; at least it has been since I met the beautiful woman I proudly call my wife. I found the work easy and I’m lucky enough to get paid well for doing what I love. This was the case for many years until; I recently joined the ranks of the unemployed. It was a bitter shock and the realization that life is not always as easy as I started to believe, but as life should be, instead of being the worst period of my life, it was one of the best – a real one. a shock to the system – no doubt, but still one of the best. I would like to share some of these experiences with you, you know, I have 4 children under the age of 5 (no twins here!) and being able to see my family without obstacles at work has changed my whole outlook on life.
I became unemployed about 4 weeks ago. Earning a decent income meant my wife could stay at home (which is lucky because she told me she’d never work again when we got married!) but it also meant we lived a little higher than most people. our means. This is great while the income lasts, but once it dries up you start to realize how much money you need each month just to pay the bills! This is when reality hits home and you start to get more than a little nervous.
Still, I got paid well and we calculated that we would be fine for 6-8 weeks with our savings. Luckily, I was soon offered a job starting in just over a week, so I was able to do something I’ve always wanted to do. I was able to really enjoy my family.
The first few days were difficult for me. Our oldest boy (age 4.5) just started school and that meant another boy (age 2.5) just lost his favorite friend. It’s weird, but I never really understood how great a babysitter an older brother can be on the weekends. It sure didn’t take long to figure it out!
The little 2.5 year old and his sister (1.5 years old) suddenly needed a new partner to play with. 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 when she had an extra pair of hands around, so I got nappy duty – 5 dirty nappies just during school? And the youngest (4 months) simply has a knack for getting more ‘stuff’ out of his diaper and onto his back than the laws of physics would allow! This is just not right??? it is so? Daily? My wife looked at me with amused sympathy. She confirmed that yes, it was every day, but she thought it would get better next week.
So the first week was spent worrying about when the money would start flowing again AND trying to remember how to play dominoes or teaching an excited little girl how to play with Matchbox cars while a 2.5 year old boy served tea from a little girl’s tea set. . Was it just me or has the world gone wrong somewhere?
Oh, and how could I forget to mention that little 2.5 was getting his last teeth (tables), little 1.5 was getting canines, molars and more, and little 4 months was just starting the ‘teeth journey’? You can’t imagine the noise of 3 children all screaming at the same time with the pain of teething!!! Give me a busy subway or mall – PLEASE!
Somehow I survived. I was looking forward to the end of school when my “babysitter” would come home and take up a lot of time with the other kids, but there is still changing, feeding, showering, reading books and playing the games that all 3 kids played with the little 4 month watch. I was really exhausted every night.
As I write these words, I look back and ask myself, why was that? My wife was there too. Didn’t she do anything? Then I remember that yes – she was breastfeeding, washing, ironing, cleaning, shopping, running the kids around and normal mummy stuff! But if we were both fully loaded…how does that work? She normally does it all by herself! No?
Wow. Talk about a whole new respect for the role of mother.
Not only has she been able to do it all these years on her own, but she has raised children who are simply amazing. 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 did a really amazing job. I know I’m helping, but it’s nothing compared to what he accomplishes every day.
By the end of the week, my previous way of life forgotten, I was beginning to relax a little. My phone rang very rarely and I progressed through job opportunities when they did. At the beginning of the week I felt my phone wasn’t ringing enough, but by the end of the week I didn’t notice it anymore.
Well, even though I was almost immune to the smell of very full diapers, I was really looking forward to the second week when my wife happily told me that the frequency of dirty diapers would decrease. At the time I never really thought about how it would work, I took her word for it. I keep forgetting how stupid I can be.
My wonderful wife decided that while I was home and able to help, she would like to take the opportunity to go potty on 2.5. Around that time I started to see a potential problem here! We put his toilet training on hold as we had just settled into a new home, had another baby, went away for Christmas and his older brother started school. Now it seemed time to start (for my wife anyway!).
Day 1 was pretty good. He already had a clear idea of when he needed to use the toilet and the day was quite successful. Only one mishap where he fell asleep on the floor before we could put him in a diaper to sleep in, but overall we were pretty happy. I was doubly pleased because all my fears seemed to be completely unfounded.
Day 2, I was pretty excited about this because I only changed 4 dirty diapers the day before and any reduction in that number was a relief. The only problem was that now the little 1.5 decided to start taking off the diapers too, because she was a big girl and didn’t need them either. Unfortunately, she is small and the toilet is too big even with the baby seat…but her brother didn’t use the potty, so why should he?
What a disaster.
Accidents everywhere. In my office(!), in the living room, in the kitchen, on my lap. Okay, they were only number one, but it’s not nice to be the one to discover that while walking barefoot to the fridge! I swear she would do it on purpose too. She was like a little water jug on her feet, but she never ran out. I think I counted 4 per hour at one stage. There is nothing in the office that you have to deal with like this. My biggest problem was if the cleaner wiped my desk under the papers or just around it! I realize this was probably quite normal for many of you, 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 home. Once they start eating what we eat, when they go to the toilet, it’s just as bad as if we did it on the floor. COARSE!
On the 3rd day we tried to keep her in a diaper, but on the 4th we gave up. Those disposable diapers are a great idea, but the only downside is that even children can work with them. So day 4 was similar, but on day 5 she started using the potty on her own and was very proud to do potties.
You know, there’s a sense of accomplishment when you see the light go on in those little eyes when they know they’ve done well. She proudly displayed her achievements and received considerable praise for a job well done. Her older 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 was changing and I was too distracted by these strange and unknown events to even notice. I first realized this when I looked at my children at the end of that second week and saw for the first time that there were 4 perfect and wonderful young people in front of me. Everyone is thirsty for knowledge and excitement, everyone has their own thoughts and views on things. This was my family. It was an amazing revelation and it hit me hard.
Week 3 and accidents have decreased. Playtime was easier and meeting all of their personal needs came naturally. It was now a nuisance when my phone rang, even though I still had no job secured. The kids and I even started working on a bit of a routine. I started looking for opportunities to help my wife around the house as well, and she told me (while repeating some of the things I did wrong) that she really appreciated it. I was used to managers and senior management congratulating me on an excellent presentation or a successful project, but this was different. I realized that although we had a great relationship, these weeks had brought us closer. I had a greater understanding of what she was doing and a greater appreciation for the effort required to be a good mom—and the best.
As week 4 draws to a close, I have successfully found a job and start in just over a week. Although it took a weight off my shoulders, it also made me sad. I would go back to that life again, always busy, always pushed hard, and I find that it appeals to me much less now. Even though I need to work to afford to live, it really made me start thinking of ways to make it possible so I could have more time off for my kids.
By this time, my children rush 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 really glad to have spent this time with them. It was one of the most precious times of my life and I will always cherish these memories.
As a result of these few weeks, I had two major revelations:
1. I realized that when I don’t need to go to the office, I would like to help my wife in her work. As our children grow up together, this is a job where the challenges will be constant and ever-changing.
2. I could have been rich if I had invented disposable diapers or bonjella (really amazing stuff for gum pain relief).
I also made a few changes to stick with and my daily list will now include:
– I always thank my wife for doing everything she does and being everything she is
– Always take the time to talk to each child individually and learn about their day
…and most importantly…
– Make sure I buy a lottery ticket every week
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