About eight months ago I resigned from my work to take over the lion share of looking after Thing 1 and Thing 2. There were a number of reasons; but the main one was that my wife was able to earn about three times as much as me in less time.
You can see from my early blog entries that there were both fun and stressful times. The cycle of tedium interspersed with regular bouts of intense emotions certainly takes a significant adjustment. I became closer to the Things and understood more about their behaviour, even if I couldn’t always improve it.
In doing this role I have undoubtedly lost status; especially amongst my male peers. When meeting a bloke for the first time they will usually perform a comic double-take when they hear I am a ‘stay at home dad’. The looks I got when dropping off my car to be fixed with Thing 2 in tow said it all. The fact that I use the opportunity to further my writing career is often mystifying to them as writing is not a proper job either.
The hardest times for me are when the Things want their mum. Both Things had nasty viruses recently and were up in the night with temperatures and nightmares. Thing 2 even managed to vomit in our bed.
While I was sitting up with her at 2am watching old episodes of Batman (that are really driving me mad now) with her cuddled across my lap - a mini-furnace carefully positioned within aiming distance of a sick bowl - I felt a sense of pride in what I was doing.
Then as she was sick again she started crying and calling for Mum. I was letting Mum sleep as she had a long drive that day for a big meeting, but Thing 2 was inconsolable for about 15 minutes. She finally fell asleep on my lap with big, racking sobs mixed with murmured pleas for Mum that slowly faded into gentle snoring.
When the Things were born my wife transformed into a natural mum, always seeming to know what the Things needed or wanted. However, I was informed by a few people that I was not a natural dad. I obviously had some catching up to do but will I ever even draw level during those times when the Things need that extra level of support?
I can’t see it happening in the near future and it takes the gloss off all the time, effort and stretched patience that goes into looking after children. When you’re with the Things everyday it’s hard to see the little advances you make, but there’s no escaping the rejection you get at 3am when a Dad cuddle is just not enough.