My wife is away on a business trip this week, extended to a week so she can spend a few rare moments with her parents, and her brother’s family. Lucky her, she gets to hang out with them where they live in Florida – in mid-August. Lucky me, I get to parent alone for a week. Now at this point, you may think that this post is an opportunity for me to complain about having to be with my 6 kids, my 6 girls, as the only parent. But there’s enough trash to read in the world today about the entitlement of dads, their so-called “man” needs, and how inconvenient it is to occasionally have to perform the chore of babysitting their own kids. But I don’t babysit my kids. I live with them, I parent them, I hang out with them, I play with them, I bathe them, I teach them, I drive them places, I provide for them, I wipe their butts, and do a hundred other things with and for them, but I don’t babysit them. Because no one babysits their own children; it goes against the very definition of the word.
No, this post isn’t my opportunity to whine about how hard it is to be home with the kids without my wife, for a week. Of course it’s hard. I don’t think anyone would question that. Even with 3 of my kids leaving the house for several hours every day for a fun fairy camp, I still have a 2 yr old who needs attention all throughout the day, 3 meals to make (minimum), and many opportunities to help my children work on their interpersonal problem resolution skills. They’re not in school, and, by the way, I’m a work at home dad.
Working from home may seem like a real cushy job, since you can do it in your underwear if you choose, and even from your bed. I’m sure that could be true for someone who doesn’t have kids, or whose children are out of the house for a good portion of the day. Not so for this family, since we still have one child too young for school, and we’re homeschooling 2 others (summer-homeschooling too).
So this week has been a challenge for me as a temporary single parent not babysitting his kids. But this post isn’t about that either. It’s about my favorite part about being home with my family for days without my wife in spite of all the challenges.
It happens every morning. After a night where I usually get up at least once to comfort our youngest children, often accompanying one of them to the bathroom, my alarm goes off, alerting me that it’s time to get up and start breakfast. Enjoying one of the perks of summer as a work at home parent (I don’t have anywhere that I HAVE to be), I shut off the alarm and debate whether or not I should disturb the two little people that found me in the middle of the night.
I usually end up on my back, Smunchie (4) with her back to me as close as she could possibly be without actually being under me, and Sugarbaby (2) on my other side, cuddled up in the crook of my arm, her head on or near my shoulder. It’s a sweet moment, even if my back aches a bit from being stuck in one position for who knows how long. And it gets better. Instead of waking up to the two of them whining, or Sugarbaby crying out for her mommy and daddy, they wake up happy. They are happy to see me. They cuddle in closer and say “I love you Daddy” (or as Sugarbaby says: “I yuh-you Daddy”). And we just stay there for a little while, enjoying each other’s company. This is my favorite part of Jessica being away for days. This happy moment, every morning, where there is no fighting, no arguing, no rush, and I just enjoy being with two people who want nothing more than to do the same with me.
These moments happen when Jessica is home too, but it’s a little different, because Sugarbaby would rather wake up slowly at her mother’s breast. I respect that. Bobbies are still her favorite thing in the world, and I wouldn’t dream of taking them away from her. So while Mommy is away, this dad gets to feel like a million bucks every morning. What a way to start the day.