So my special lady friend has been under the weather this week and I have had the opportunity to stay at home and look after the fruit of my loins. Now I have always known that the stay at home mum lifestyle is no daily tea & bikkies with the Bold & the Beautiful. As a fella, it is drummed into us from a young age that we have it easy, slaving away day in, day out for the man, compared to the burdens that the mother of our children face.
It was fairly evident on wednesday morning when the sun came up that my special lady friend was not going to rise with it. Now I dont know if it was the bucket full of snotty tissues, the Mr Ed impersonation or the glassed-over eyes, but I had a hunch that she was not feeling well. Employing my non-existant empathy skills, I asked ‘Want me to stay home?’, to which I received a mumbled response that was a mix between ‘kill me now’, ‘the children have play group today; and ‘yes’!
My morning duties usually include feeding my children, changing a nappy and putting them on the toilet, so that stuff is easy peasy for me. Usually, my duties end there and the Mrs takes over. I packed the play group bag and headed out to
estrogen city the parents support group, aka playgroup. Now you would think that two and a half hours of organised activities would be easy street for a parent. You put your children down and they do their own thing. Nope. It is not two and a half hours of activities. It is two and a half hours of active child management. ‘Share the swings’. ‘Don’t eat the pine-cones’. ‘That child’s head is not a drum’. The old ladies running the show supply some coffee-flavoured water and dry cake which is shared with sleep-deprived mums locked in a competition for who has the best child. I made a misguided comment on how enjoyable staying home was, to which I realised the term ‘if looks could kill’ took on a very literal meaning!
After play-group, I negotiated the terms of getting into the car with my children. My children put forward their ideas on seating and being strapped into their seats. It ended up being more difficult then putting an octopus in a condom*
Arriving home and my youngest had a sleep, allowing me to do the morning whip around- preparing some dinner for the evening, cleaning the kitchen and checking on my still-about-to-die special lady friend. I need to say at this point, I was feeling very useful and productive. I was really, really enjoying my time at home and thought I could get used to this stay-at-home caper. My youngest was having a good sleep, I had managed to prepare a nice lunch for everyone, the house was looking cleanish.
Once my youngest was awake, the house was a complete shemozzle exactly seven minutes later. I was impressed at the speed in which the blocks, the babies, the cars, the dvds, the flowers and a cup of jice could end up across the floor! Of course, it got worse once he got out of his room.
Seeing as my special lady friend was not well, I thought it wise to take my children out of the house, so she could get some extra rest. I am thoughtful like that. I also need to say that I was in a real groove. I had managed to clean the mess up again (cleaning count: 4 quick ‘whip arounds’ since lunch) and somehow managed to put the children in the car. In the right seats. Up the right way. So you could say I was on a roll. I was super impressed with myself – it was close to 3, I had dinner prepared and ready to be heated up for later. My youngest had his nappy changed at least twice through the day and my girl had not had any accidents. The house was relativley clean. The ironing was done and the children, for the most part, were fed. The park was wonderful and really seemed to tire everyone out. Well, me, anyway!
We arrived home, completely grubby from the park. It was close to 4.30 so I threw the children in the bath and did another quick ‘whip around’, set the table. I need to say that by now, I was feeling the pinch a bit. I thought a coffee would perk me up. For the most part it did, but I was craving something. I figured that it was beer, seeing as the State of Origin was on later that night, so I made plans for a clandestine escape once the children were asleep to fetch me some well deserved hooch. My mind snapped back to the bath when the children casually commented that my youngest had tried to get out himself, with some almost tragic un-intended consequences. Now I mentioned getting an octopus into a condom* earlier, well this was closer to that. Trying to handle a wet two year old, still half-lathered up, doing their best banana impression is nigh on impossible. Employing the Boston Crab, I managed to wrestle my two year old and dress them in their PJ’s.
The children made their thoughts known in a loud way (as is the trend with children) on how their desired dinner differed from my choice. Agreement to eat dinner was ensured with the promise of desert. The time was around 5.30, which is when I usually walk through the door, after a hard day at work. So the children were settled and eating their dinner and discussing if they would have their ice-cream desert in a cone or cup. By now, I need to say, my lasagne looked like a very appealing pillow. I had a fun day, no doubt about it. The children had some great fun, the house was mostly clean, I had about an hour until beer o’clock. But it was hard yakka!
Teeth were brushed, drinks were made, bowels were emptied, stories were read, backs were rubbed, hugs were distributed, bowels again were emptied, hugs again were given and received, backs again were drawn on, drinks were re-filled, kisses were exchanged. Time: six-thirty pm.
Once the children were asleep, I sat on the couch. I could not scratch the itch on what I was craving for. In a welcome burst of energy, my special lady friend mentioned the C- word – Chocolate! I knew that is just what I needed. I dashed to the shops on a mercy mission and fetched the needs.
Slumping in the couch, it dawned on me. The stay-at-home mum job is so much more then that – you literally give your whole life over to managing everyone elses whole life – their eating, sleeping, activities, transportation, health – the list continues. It is a rewarding job, but a tough one!
So to all the stay-at-home mums, my hat and my heart goes out to you. You all do a wonderful, often thankless job!
THANK YOU SARAH for all the wonderful work you put into our house and children
THANK YOU MUM for all your years of toil for me!
*the octopus in a condom story relates to this crazy party back in the early 2000’s, but I’d rather those in the know not mention it for the time being.