Mar 19, 2009

Home-Dadding The Beginning - Dan's Story Part 3

Here's the third instalment of 'Dan's story'. Go here for Part 1 and Part 2.

Of course sometimes I’d see other fathers around but invariably they weren’t alone, they’d have their partners, or sometimes their own Mums, hovering close by in case anything needed attention. So when I discovered the Northern Dads Playgroup it was a very refreshing change, that’s for sure.

My new little boy was not one of your can I draw for half an hour then sit quietly reading a book type of kids (you know they’re out there somewhere!). He was more a can I bend it, can I throw it, can I push it, oops I’ve pressed the emergency stop button sort of child. I quickly discovered, especially at the onset of ‘mobility’ and that crazy time between one and two years, that going out to paid work was in fact the easier option.

There’s no doubt being on your own with pre-schoolers for great lengths of time makes you go a little bit mad. However, this is really handy for the kids, who seem to appreciate Daddy skills like singing ‘How Much is that Doggy in the Window’ at the same time as bubbling up some spag bol. As long as it’s in a strange voice, and as long as you substitute Goat / Ant / Elephant for Doggy every so often.

The other side is that when you’re at home full time, you’d be a slack-arse bludger if you didn’t do the majority of the house work too. This was ok, if a little tedious, and would have been a bit easier if my son had learnt to pass me the pegs for the washing without snapping them in half first(!). It did highlight the difference between my opinion of the state of the bathroom (‘not too bad/seen worse’), and my partners (‘filthy/disgusting’). So the solution was for me to clean it every Tuesday, (even if I thought it was ok).

However, having had the responsibility of being at home gives you a fantastic self-confidence in your child-rearing abilities, and does wonders for your organisational skills. Keeping everything cleaned, cooked, washed, folded, and tidied up can be useful in keeping everybody at a less rope-able level, even if it does turn you, yourself, into a bit of a dragon (keep those dirty feet off my clean floor!). For me it also really reinforced the view that there’s no reason at all why women should feel they have to be the ones at home, or indeed the ‘primary carers’. Of course there’d be heaps of women who would never particularly want to give up this responsibility, but that’s another story.

Well, anyway, our little baby got bigger, as they tend to, and I then returned to work part-time for a new employer, and so our little one had two days of child care at this time, which he really liked. Going back to work was a bit weird too. I’d had this life changing experience of being a stay-at-home Dad, but everyone at work just treated me like your average father, who was at work while ‘someone else’, whoever that might be, was looking after the kids. I wanted to run round with a T-shirt saying stay-at-home-dad - show some respect for my child rearing abilities please. What I felt like was a ‘working Dad’ as in ‘working Mum’, i.e. ok, yeah I was at work today but, actually, my main job is not here at all but at home keeping the kids and the house ticking over. Reminds me I forgot to get the meat out to defrost this morning, sort of thing. It did make me realise that being at home with the kids does make you a different type of parent in many ways, with a clear understanding that it is no picnic to ‘stay at home’, and not all Dads get to fully appreciate this.

Final instalment tomorrow....

1 comment:

Out-Numbered said...

Good stuff bro. Keep up the great writing!