C-c-c-c-changes (guest post by plusthedad)
Taking a step back from our current domestic situation with us steering our course through life’s choppy waters with a 6 year old dog, a 2 ½ year old daughter (at what age do you start dropping the ‘½’?) and a 6 month old son it is interesting (to me) to realise how our day to day status quo has evolved to where it is now.
While I’m at work, there’s obviously a severe shortage of hands to help mummy and so I sit and wonder if it’s going to be ‘one of those days’ when I phone home and discover carnage, with some combination of babies refusing to sleep, The Boy choosing inopportune moment to sick up the day’s food/milk intake, dog taking too much interest in nappy contents, The Girl choosing refusal to play ball at Aquatots (“don’t want”) or proving her height and strength by pulling candles/pictures/flowers/television (delete or add as applicable) off some surface where they were happily homed. Nearly always coupled with the wife’s stock phrase of “the dog won’t be walked when you get home and the house will be in a state”.
I hope it’s not one of those days, I don’t really mind the messy house or dog walk (cleaning up doesn’t take long and we can always ensure the dog gets a walk) but it’s more the helplessness that I have while at work – I can listen to the issues but can’t do much about them other than to listen, empathise and try not to problem solve over the phone. I’ve learned that’s not what’s needed at these moments!
While I AM at home, for a shortly spell in the weekday morning or evening (if the sleep Gods and travel Gods decide to be in my favour), through the night if things ‘kick-off’ in the children’s bedrooms or through the weekend I find that The Girl has become ‘mine’ and The Boy ‘my wife’s’.
The dog has to make do with the scraps of our time that are left, and walks in the park whenever weather/winter daylight permits, amid obedience, belly rubs and ‘lap time’ (as frequently demanded by a ‘lap dog’) whenever we can.
While the wife looks after fuelling, bedtime, clothing, routine (etc.) of the son, the daughter gets to be ‘daddies’. Hair (before mummy sees it and habitually re-does it), nappy, potty training, story time, play-time, dressing and feeding, dealing with night time terrors and problems etc.
Is this normal under these circumstances? I’m not sure.
Does this work for us… I think so. There’s daily routine control for The Boy to ensure he doesn’t get lost in the day to day of us whirling around trying to do all we need to do (always an unbeatably large ever-growing list!).
The Girl gets to play a small-but-growing part in looking after herself and the house. So far I’ve got her to the stage where she will try to relay item or broken messages to and from me and the wife in the house (unless it’s food, that seems to never survive the journey), some putting away of washing up, fetching and carrying, putting clothes in the wash basket. All not wholly helpful, but less unhelpful than they used to be!
What does it all mean… It seems to result in me having a closer relationship with The Girl. As to The Boy, I can feel a little remote at times, but that was a similar feeling to this stage when The Girl was 6 months. It’s a thing I can deal with this time around easier – I know things will change as he grows older. The experience of ‘second time around’…
My wife feels sometimes that roles have reversed for her and The Girl, as some days only ‘DADDY!’ will do. I know it frustrates her, but again, this will only be temporary.
Anyway, must go. I need to re-convince The Girl that dog doesn’t want or need to go into her crate, and also continue our discussion/negotiation of why we can’t just have non-stop ‘clocklatt’ (chocolate) at meal times and that we do need to balance food items slightly better than that.