So...What Do You Do?
It's inevitable, I know it's coming at some stage during the night. I could be at one of those social gatherings where you are meeting new people, a BBQ, a work related function, a family birthday party...that question, "So, what do you do?"
..."I'm a stay at home father"
..."Oh? But what do you do?" Is the response 99% of the time. "Don't you get bored sitting around the house all day?"
Well maybe it's easier if I just tell you the things I don't do. I don't have much time to myself, I don't get the chance to go out to dinner with my wife (alone that is, no children), I don't get to go to the movies, well one's I wan't to see that don't start with the Disney Castle before the opening scene...I don't get to have adult conversation that doesn't involve what other children ate for the first time, how sick they've been (Oh great! Now you tell me), how many times they went to the potty. Sometimes it makes me want to go "potty"!!
I work hard, believe it or not, harder than many people without children realise. I don't sit around watching TV, reading magazines or go shopping for luxuries, much to the surprise of the "question asker" It's a full time job, 24/7. There is no overtime, no sick leave or injury pay, you're on call every day, all day...and mostly it is a thankless job. Well, until they can talk, and then is is just a demanding job!
"But how can you afford it?" I get asked. Well, to be honest, "My financial position is really, none of your business!" I want to say. But I just tell them, "Well it works for us, we're happy". We are happy! My children are some of the most well behaved children when out in public, never throwing tantrums when things don't go their way (well never is a big call, it does take some work to get to that stage as most parents will agree), they are courteous to adults and are never rude to or bully other children, and always say thank you and please.
I find it amazing that in this day and age, I as a male, still get treated differently being a stay at home parent. No one bats an eyelid when it's the mother at home, but a dad..."well that's just weird". My wife never got asked "How can you afford it?" when I was working and she was at home...it's just accepted, no questions. When my kids were at kindergarten, I never got invited to coffee with the other mums, they never talked to me while waiting to pick the kids up, and the only time they did was when my sons friends wanted a "play date". Even then they'd ask me when my wife was free. But I'm the one supposed to be doing this. They didn't get it, and neither did their husbands. I can remember one dad asking his wife "Who's idea was that?!" when I had three of my sons mates over after school to play and make pizza for dinner. Well it was mine, it's what I do. I can tell you now guys, I had no intentions of making the "moves" on your wives, trust me.
It did get better once they got to primary school and many of the mums knew who I was. I did make a few friends, and still are friends (just friends husbands, just friends!). I helped on the excursions, and most things that parents are asked to help out with, so I guess I "won" them over in time. Things have gotten better since I first started, there are more fathers there before and after school...but I feel as though I was a pioneer of sorts. I don't want a medal, or trophy, or my name written on a plaque at school...I just love doing what I do. I get a real satisfaction out of knowing everything is under control and the household runs smoothly. "Did you do this, did you remember that...Oh my god, have you organised this?!" It's OK dear, all done. She know's it is, but still asks. I'm not perfect by any means. Of course there are times when we all forget something...like today, I forgot to get a form back to school. It got mixed up in all the hundreds of other messages on the bench...we've all been there. But! It's OK, no one is going to miss out on anything. That said, my wife still can't understand why I just have to get the washing done some days. "Just leave it, it wont kill you!" But I remind her that just because it's just washing, it's no different to those things you do at work (or bring home with you) that are just better off getting done now, otherwise, it just piles up and using murphys law, the weather will turn and I will have a back log of washing...and no school clothes!
Well, now my boys are a little older and most of these things are changing. But,what do I do? I am a parent. I wear many hats. I'm the cook, the cleaner, the importer of fresh foods, the clothes and dish washing machine, the entertainer, the problem solver, the doctor, the taxi driver, the bad dream police and monster catcher, the librarian, the teacher, and sometimes the bad guy...but I am a father who loves his family and would do anything for them. And I do.
My wife works hard, and I mean hard. She has built herself a career that is demanding, exhausting and frustrating at times...but she loves it, and if not for me she would not have been able to do it. I am always here for her and my children. They want for nothing, and I provide a moral and loving support system for them. My wife comes home and she has no need to lift a finger, everything is done, taken care of. The only thing she has to do is play with the kids, relax, read a book, do yoga, have a glass of wine (with me of course)...whatever she wants. It is my way of doing my part for the family. She works to provide for us, and I work for them so that we can have a stress free (as much as possible anyway) lifestyle. It may sound old fashioned (albeit in the reverse order from generations past, the wife at home, the man working 9 - 5), but it works for us. It may not work for others, what works for you and your family is up to you, and that is fantastic. But for us, this is life. Our home is filled with laughter, music, cooking, games and love. We are always having a great time and I (we) wouldn't have it any other way.
...speaking of things I have to do, it's nearly 3 o'clock and I have to go pick the boys up from school. Thanks for stopping by.