Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Stay at home Dad

I imagine I get a bit boring and repetitive when I say, “Oh, a lovely weekend with the family.” Thing is, life with kids is slow, repetitive and yes, a touch boring. For all that, its life at a different pace, one where your immediate wants and desires get subjugated, yet with unanticipated rewards.

This long weekend I was effectively a single parent. It’s only a week before LL’s big exam, and she has disappeared. Metaphorically speaking only, of course, though I’ll be very glad when its all done. She came down for meals, but otherwise buried herself in books and practice questions for the entire time upstairs and invisible.

It’s interesting, the two of us have had various conversations about one of us staying at home. To be fair, we could live very comfortably on one of our salaries. Yet, every time we discuss it, we decide to carry on with two careers. Its not that we don’t love our kids or miss being with them, but that after analysis we think we can be better parents if we have stimulus outside the house as well.

Therefore, we bring in someone to look after them during the day. We have been very lucky with our nannies both have been brilliant. In particular, for the current incumbent, I think it hits her life needs as well. She is excellent with the kids, and there is no doubt in my mind that she loves them. She’s still in regular contact with her previous charges. Yet, at night and at the weekends, she gets to go home and have a different life.

Young kids can be fairly relentless in their calls on your life. When I have a weekend like the last one I think I could quite comfortably switch to staying at home. There is a pleasure in the pace of cooking a meal, cleaning up, playing a bit, doing the odd chore, then starting all over again. I have children with appetite, and it is immensely satisfying to see a meal get gobbled with gusto. Then I enjoy getting on the floor and building with lego, or playing dinosaur snap, or chasing small bodies around the garden.

Its not all perfection of course. Dealing with the moaning and squabbles of three very young kids can get on one’s nerves. Some chores are just that, a real chore. I do the washing up because I hate a dirty or untidy kitchen. The doing though, gives me little pleasure.

Still, after a weekend like the last, with its meals, child care and outings, does make me wonder…


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