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The 7pm race (guest post from plusthedad)

I have a wife that 'does things'. I'm one of those guys that largely goes with the flow, enjoys the status quo. I like to support and I enjoy it. A blog? Yes, that's a good idea. You should do it. You think I should do a guest slot. Instant apprehension. But... I've let the idea grow on me and I should. Yes, I should… So how is the Plusthedog life currently working for me?

I have a job that is a 1 ½ hour door-to-door commute. My alarm goes off at 6am so I can tiptoe round the house, walk the dog, get ready and get out before 7am. I don't like early mornings. I really don't like the early mornings. We're trying to move to address this. We need more space. A two bedroom house doesn't ideally work for all the baggage and sleeping plans that come with two kids, a dog and a wife that loves to go camping. But for now our house is 'busy'.

On the commute I waste my time, I play silly games on my phone or read a book. I feel guilty that I should be doing more useful things like speaking to the estate agent, keeping in touch with friends I’ve poorly kept in touch with or fending off work e-mails via my phone but I don't. I feel frustrated that it's another morning when I haven't got to say hello to The Girl. I've left The Boy and my wife in bed after they've had their own battles overnight feeding and trying to sleep. I feel 'bad dad' and guilty I haven't got to say morning to The Girl. 

As I get near work I call the wife to see how the house has woken up and have to live the kid's morning through them. I feel guilty. I have missed out. Before the kids I had a 10 minute commute to my job (pre redundancy), a lie in, no kids to miss seeing. It's a lurch for me.

At work I get through the day. I call home at lunch to see how things have gone. Sometime I go for a lunch run. Feel guilty for being so selfish as it may cause me to have to leave work a little later. The job is 'boom' or 'big boom' in its nature. You think you're on top of things and then you're resigned to 3 different simultaneous projects needed ‘now’. That's the way of it. Problem is others in department are regularly staying to 8pm and live just round the corner from work. And don't have two kids under 2 ½. I do.

I'm desperately trying to finish things so everyone is happy. I’m a ‘satisfier’. I want my boss, my team to be happy. To enjoy work. Feel supported. Feel ‘a team’. But... At the back if my mind I'm looking at train times that I can't now make. If I miss the 5.30pm train, that's it. Or if Southern Rail decide to entertain us with delays or comedy train shenanigans, that’s it. Home after 7pm and I don't get to see The Girl. I won't see her the next morning either as the day begins anew.

I’m lucky she has a bad dream and I get to comfort her at 3am to calm her down. But she sleeps very well, really. And 3am comforting isn’t really quality time for anyone.

So often I can be found utterly sprinting the 10 minute walk to the train station at the work end to desperately attempt to get the earlier train than I should be able to, to get home just to try to see her before bed. 7pm is a time I spend my working week fixated on. Must. Get. Home. For. 7pm.

But there are days (weeks) when I can't. When things get busy at work or the trains misbehave you can suddenly go from Sunday night to, say, Thursday eve before I see her. 4 whole days gone. Not too often but it can happen. I spend my days annoyed. Frustrated. Guilty. A real 'bad dad'. I spent my 20's and 30's looking for the perfect woman to marry, to enjoy life with. To have kids with. I was going to be a great dad. Going 4 days without seeing the kids was NOT in the script.

My life revolves around the 7pm curfew, ‘winning’ 20 minutes of 'quality time' with a 2 1/2 year old who, by then, is end of day cranky, tired and has her cheeky, naughty crazy CRAZY face on. Often she’s so tired, she just wants to hide. Doesn’t want to give me the hug and kiss I’ve hurled myself through the evening commute for.

We'll fix it. We'll move nearer work. I'll learn to care for my job more. As they grow I'll get more time with the kids in the evenings but right now I don't enjoy the working week...

Must make 7pm.


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