Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Another Side To The Story

Righto, so I’ve written a couple of blogs about myself and some of the mental hurdles I’ve had to leap in this house dadding business and I’ve got one or two more sitting around in draft form for a later date. But, instead of discussing new parenthood from that angle, I thought I might write a bit with My Sweet in mind.

What do I mean? Well, over the last 12 months I’ve been asked almost as an opening conversation starter when catching up with friends the “how’re you going?” question, or a version of it. This is great, it gives me a chance to talk about myself and even if they’re only being polite, I still have a forum in which I can debrief. If things have been good, I say so, if things are not so good, I say so too.

It’s dawned on me though, that people rarely ask My Sweet the same question. Well, that’s not quite right, they do ask her, but instead of it being “how are you going”, it becomes “how is Ben going”, I am, as a house dad, still a bit of novelty within society. Working mums, however, are everywhere. And, as I write this I actually can see why parenting full stop, can be tough. I guess those of us who are newest to parenting are still finding the transition tough, and the longer you do it, the easier it becomes because you create new routines.

And I think that’s my point, people can see the massive routine change that has occurred in my life but they don’t see the new challenges My Sweet has to overcome, and they’re present for all working parents too, but I’ll focus on My Sweet.

My Sweet, my beautiful wife has become the ‘go-to’ person in our house each morning. This came about from the early days when Baby James would wake through the night and I would take that bullet, she in turn tends to him when he wakes. She changes him, feeds him and enjoys his playful company while getting herself ready for work too. This task has become more difficult as our son has become more mobile and he is now proficient at interrupting both the showering and stocking processes.

As My Sweet hops in the car for her drive into the city, Baby James and I wave her goodbye from the drive and Baby James gives her his best smiles for her to take on the trip. I am sure this is small consolation. I would wager My Sweet would prefer to spend each day with her son having fun. I am reminded of a story My Sweet relayed about a woman she works with whose husband house dads, some days this colleague of My Sweet would arrive home to discover not a single chore had been completed and her husband and the kids were still in their pyjamas, well, you can only imagine the sort of fun that was had on those days.

And so the day goes on. Some times I get a phone call to see how we’re doing. And sometimes I get cross because the phone has woken Baby James or I get cross because he has been difficult. And I should have been more thoughtful.

And when My Sweet arrives home and I see the car in the drive, I have begun to switch off as take-over is about to happen. I don’t exactly take up a position on the couch, but heading into the kitchen to make dinner is usually the better of the two options at this time of the day, for even though I have gotten much better at timing Baby James’ sleeps so that My Sweet doesn’t walk in to find a hysterical child, the fun times at the end of the day are not as lengthy as those in the middle.

So, a bit of play time, a bit of a catch up and then it’s quickly dinner time for Baby James, either with us or by himself depending on the meals I’ve made. After dinner My Sweet baths Baby James, again a task that has become more difficult as he has become more able to stand and squirm. The second to last task involving Baby James is one that we both dread. Drying and dressing is a two part process that Baby James has objected to since his first bath in the hospital. It is made all the more unpleasant as he is by this stage quite tired and therefore in no mood for being contorted into his wonder suit. So, My Sweet usually tackles this task by herself and I can often hear the objections that Baby James is making while I’m downstairs. If they’re really loud I’ll provide a second pair of hands and some distracting singing.

From there its bottle time for Baby James and then bed. This process, at least, is pleasant, a quiet and appreciative baby snuggling into your arms as he readies himself for sleep. It is at this time that My Sweet reappears at the bottom of the stairs looking for her opportunity to relax.

As you can see, when all things are considered, I get to enjoy the best time with Baby James and My Sweet is left to steal moments here and there in between some of the tougher baby rearing jobs. And after she has read this, I hope I can be excused as I don’t ask My Sweet how she’s handling the juggle of mothering and working often enough, but hopefully I’ve shown that I understand that she has a tough gig too, equally as hard as those mental challenges I’ve had to hurdle and that in essence is the partnership needed when parenting.


  1. Onya Ben, we are still a bit of a rarity, and i is glad that someone with good words is blogging about it.

    Your description of the post work drive to bed above is tops. i remember my first few months at home, the sound of the car in the drive was one of the sweetest in all creation, yet it heralded a period of intense activity as play, dinner, bath and bed followed hard on the heels of each other.

    see ya round like a stray truck wheel rolling down the hallway.


  2. G'day dylwah, its good to hear from someone with similar experiences.

    I also look forward to friday afternoons perhaps even more than when i was in the workforce. It brings on another pair of hands and perhaps even a bit of 'me' time over the weekend.

    Do you have a blog? I'd be interested to read about your perspective on things.


  3. No Ben, i do not have a blog, the reasons are manifold, but mostly i am shortish of the sort of alone time that it seems to require. I have bookmarked your blog and will return fairly regularly.