We’re a normal family: one mom, one dad, three kids, and a golden retriever. Just like everyone else.
What? That’s not considered normal anymore?
After staying home to be a full-time mom for nine of 11 years, my wife Kelly went back to work as our youngest was starting grade one. Our kids are now 11, nine and seven. You know the ages….old enough to have attitudes, but too young to left alone for any meaningful lengths of time or contribute to the household finances.
With Kelly working full-time, luckily, I have a job that allows me to be home with our kids quite a bit. Not so luckily, some of the heavy lifting was transferred to me. When Kelly joined the workforce once again, my little vacation was over. The positive,,,,household income, up. On the other side of the ledger? Personal fun-time, gone, baby, gone.
But I put a brave face on. “Don’t worry Kelly, I got it covered…. Ya, ya, ya no problem.”
Holy crap it’s busy. Lunches prepared, school agendas signed, hair combed, and…would someone please tell me why kids find it so difficult to remember to wear socks? (Important memo to future parents: buy only one colour of socks, and never deviate. Approximate annual time-savings in sock sorting is 62 hours.)
From 7:55 to 8:00 every morning, our house is chaos, and no amount of telling myself that “this morning will be different” seems to make it seem routine. However, at 8:01 every school day, ten seconds after I’ve faked my sad face as our kids walk out the door, some sort of involuntary action overtakes me, and I head straight for the espresso machine.
One problem though: the seven hours I am “on my own” seems to evaporate. Does it really take me six and half hours to drink a latte? It’s like I’m in some time warp, where seven hours is condensed into about three minutes. Errands. That’s all I seem to do. Pick this up. Drop that off. And as any homeowner knows, there is always something in need of repair.
We have a list of room-by-room items that need to be completed. Some are literally three minute jobs, while others might only warrant one line on the “to-do” list, but could take more than a week to finish. To avoid getting bogged down, I break those jobs up into a bunch of smaller tasks, and there is only one reason for this: to be able to cross them off the list. Anytime I go more than three hours without crossing off an item, I just quit working and go eat ice cream until 3pm.
Ah yes, 3pm. The time when the school bus deposits my kids in front of me, and also the time when I am once again legally responsible for any unforeseeable mishaps. I tell my kids that this is my favourite part of the day, and I must admit that it is. One reason, of course, is to hear the stories of the day, while the other is that my home repair projects are put on hold until tomorrow’s second latte is finished.
After snacks and homework checks, I usually remind myself that if we want to eat tonight, I should get semi-motivated and at least come up with a meal idea. Then a not-so-quick trip to the grocery store and the three items I needed turned into a cart-full of items that I had no plans on buying, such as a cheese grater and liquid plumber.
Kelly arrives home about the time I’m starting to freak out at the kids, and something is being gently overcooked in the oven. One consistent thing is that we always eat dinner as a family, with no interference from radio or TV. Somehow, though, our seven year-old has managed to commandeer the head of the table. If that happened in my day, I would have been moved by my earlobes to my proper seat.
After dinner is about the time I try to pass the “kid-baton” on to Kelly. She must have some sixth sense that I’m about to do it, because just as I start to segue into my plans to go lie on the couch, Kelly talks about how early she got up, how busy her day was, and that she still has a bit of work to do.
I look down, and what’s in my hand? You got it. The kid-baton. It just won’t go away.
While I make it sound like I do everything around the house, somehow my underwear drawer is always full, the house is always clean, and the kids make it to bed on time. These things I have no involvement in.
When I pout about what I consider my overly generous household contributions, I remind myself that I’m away from the family for ten to 15 days a month, and on those days, Kelly does her job, AND deals with three young capital expenditures when she gets home, as well as leads a Girl Guide troop once a week.
Any dad who has ever been around the kids for more than a week will never again ask a mother, in that dopey tone, “so…are you working?”
Upon further review, maybe our family isn’t quite so normal.
This is #1000families post number 25. Do you have a family story of your own to contribute to the 1,000 Families Project? Or do you know a family that might want to do so? Learn more about how the series got started and how to get involved here. You can find all of the #1000families posts here.