My wife has had three maternity leaves. I’ve worked full-time during all of them, getting home around 6 p.m. each night to spend an hour doing the fun parts.
I’m not so conceited that I didn’t realize it was a tough gig, but I would rebuff any bemoaning from my wife with, “Being at work isn’t exactly a freaking holiday.”
Turns out, comparatively, it is.
During lockdown, my wife’s more demanding job has meant she’s had to basically continue to work full-time, albeit remotely. This has meant that I’ve had my own “paternity leave” looking after our kids (ages 5, 3, and 1) while their mom works away upstairs.
Here’s a chronicle of a typical day:
– After helping with breakfast, Wife exits stage left.
– 5 and 3-year-old ask for a cookie.
– Catch 1-year-old climbing in the washing machine while I’m explaining to the others that cookies are not part of breakfast.
– Put Netflix on.
– 5-year-old sends 3-year-old to ask for a cookie.
– Break up fight over who has the remote.
– Put most guilty one on the naughty step.
– Catch 1-year-old drinking from the dog’s water bowl.
– Read him a book he hates.
– Forget one is on the naughty step, they wander back to watch Netflix.
– 5 and 3-year-old ask for a cookie. We negotiate. They get raisins.
– Decide they’ve watched too much Netflix, get crafts out.
– 1-year-old does a massive poop, spend 10 minutes fighting him to allow me the pleasure of wiping his bum.
– Come back to crafts, but they’ve left and are back watching Netflix.
– Clear up crafts, wishing whoever created slime a slow, gruesome death.
– Give them early lunch because they’re pissing me off.
– They hate my lunch. Give them chips.
– Put them in the garden.
– I tell 3-year-old off for purposely lobbing balls into next door’s garden, meanwhile 5-year-old tries to force 1-year-old to play with her and he’s like “Nah,” and bites her.
– They’re all freaking crying.
– We go inside.
– I put on a movie for big two, take up tired Mr. Bitey for his nap.
– I hide for a bit.
– They find me like they’re sniffer dogs and I’m selling drugs at a festival.
– They ask for a cookie. I give them several just so they’ll leave me alone.
– They scream “Daddy, we’re bored of this movie!” repeatedly and very loudly.
– I run in and shout at them through gritted teeth that they’re going to wake their little brother up.
– Little brother wakes up and starts crying.
– Resist temptation to demonstrate how much I currently despise my two oldest children and go get 1-year-old up.
– The next three hours are a complete freaking parenting mess.
– Mommy comes down from upstairs and they turn into golden children.
And, it’s pretty much that every day. Relentless doesn’t cover it.
I may have it slightly tougher in one sense during lockdown as there are fewer options to escape. But I also don’t have a newborn hanging off my boob, sterilizing bottles and all that stuff to worry about, and an expectation from wider society that it should all come naturally to me.
Plus, if the s*** really does hit the fan, I have another parent available upstairs who could help me out.
What I’m getting at is, all you maternity-leave survivors, fair freaking play. I’ve experienced a small amount of what you endure(d) and I’m exhausted.
We love our kids, but when they’re young, looking after them can be ferocious.
So, to my wife especially, I apologize for taking your daily efforts in rearing our kids so magnificently for granted.
I’ve had a big taste of humble pie. Sorry it’s taken so long.
Also, if you can give me access to the magical housework fairy you must have employed during your maternity leave, that would be great.
This post originally appeared on Secret Dad Lad