Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Raising a baby? Easy! What Mothers don't tell you.

I must admit some surprise, and a little suspicion, when she-who-was-pregnant was very supportive of the idea. I had expected some sensible argument about finances, or perhaps an emotional one along the lines of "She's mine! My precioussss!", but no, nothing of the sort, just a "Sure, if that's what you want to do.". So understandably, I was worried. Something wasn't right. Did she assume that I would pull out before even getting to the starting line? Did she think that I wouldn't be able to handle the non-stop life of fulltime parenting, and therefore swoop in and save the day and crush me in the same moment? Or maybe, just maybe she was genuinely supportive of the idea, thinking it would be both a wonderful experience for me and also for the children. Yeah that was it....

With approval from the wife, next was the difficult task of letting my employers know. Difficult because I have been with them for 11 plus years, and I feel a great sense of obligation and loyalty, but also because whilst my intentions were pure (I really did want to experience something that I had never had the opportunity to do before) there was also a growing element of exhilaration. I was just a tiny bit excited that after 15 years of gainful employment in an office environment, I didn't have to show up for 8 months. 

At first they were a little taken aback because I was the first to request parental leave (as opposed to maternity leave); it's just not the sort of thing men tend to do, but they approved the request nevertheless. 

The original plan was to be absent from work, the paid variety, from June 2012 to January 2013, 7 months. June, so that I could finish up my working commitments, and January because it seemed like a nice clean time to come back, after the Christmas break, but I quickly realised the stupidity of that due to the other two kids' school commitments, or rather lack thereof; it's school holidays in January idiot! So instead of getting the love of my life to take annual leave to mind the kids, I extended the leave by one month. 8 months off. I was losing focus. 

8 months off work; brilliant! "If you think that, you've got no idea what you're in for." came the stern, disapproving words from the wife. Surely it couldn't be that hard? Could it? 

"Absolutely not!" replied a close friend when I told him of my plans. "How could it be that hard? Baby eats, plays, sleeps alot. What is really going to take time?" he said.
"Er." I responded convincingly, and then more so when I channelled the wife "but there will be chores like washing, cleaning, dishes, cooking, and don't forget the kid pick ups and after school activities."
"Surely that can't take all the time, you don't have to do that everyday. You can sort of space it out. It'll be easy!"
"I know!" he said with a mischievous grin, "How about you set out to prove that it's easy being a fulltime parent and mothers are just hiding behind a thin veneer of lattes and gossiping. It's a giant conspiracy! You know, you should write about it." 

I would like to point out my friend is childless. And I thank him for inspiring me to write this blog.

For the record, and maybe because my beloved may read this, it's his hypothesis not mine. I have no doubt whatsoever that this experience is going to hard and relentless work. Really. No doubt. None whatsoever. Very hard. Relentless. Really!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

We were planning to go to Europe in October, I was really looking forward to it.

Sometime in February 2011 my wife showed me a little plastic rod with a little window on in it. As is often the case when my wife shows (or tells) me something, nothing really clicked for a while. There may have been white noise, not really sure. But as I stared blankly at the little window, slowly I started to recognise the two unbroken blue lines of dye it displayed.

Realisation dawned upon me. Shit! She's pregnant....

Whilst some may say this is a stereotypical reaction, and I suppose it is, it wasn't for those reasons that my first thought was one of shock. No, quite simply I had forgotten we were trying to have a child. You see, my life was pretty good, things had been going along swimingly (no pun intended), life had been pleasantly meandering along. My wife and I are pretty easy going types, and in this case, very much of a like mind in thinking, what will happen, will happen. There was no pressure and there was no real fixed point where we decided we're trying for our third child, it was more of a decision to stop not trying to have a child. So yeah, I was surprised, simply because I had forgotten about it.

After my moment of shock I was embraced by the pure joy of knowledge. Knowledge that my beloved was pregnant and we were going to have a new born in the house again. I can't think of too many feelings better than that, although that first sip of red after a long day has to be close.

The downer of course, was that the trip to Europe was now out the window. Damnit!

At the start of July, about three months out from the due date in early October, which the obstetrician assured me would be after the AFL Grand Final (I still harboured dreams that the Hawks, and I, would be busy that day) I had an epiphany: Why can't I be the full time Dad? Sure money is an issue, and yes I would have to clear it with the wife, but what was really stopping me? Why couldn't I do it? Well, nothing except the fear of the unknown.

I've never been a fulltime parent before. Parenting, sure, no worries, been doing that for ten years and I think I do ok, well at least the kids tell me I do so that's at least a little reassuring. But I've never had the responsibility of fulltime parenting, especially of the kids when they were little, the wife always handled that. The whole maternity leave thing really made it an obvious choice.

This time however, due to our wonderful Australian Government, I could tag team with my wife. She could take the first eight months and then I could take over and take the next eight months. She could go back to full time work for the first time in ten years, no worries, I'm sure she wouldn't mind, and I'll get to experience something I've never done before, looking after our baby (and the other two) full time.

And thus, a plan was formed.