I was told I left many readers hanging. That was not by design, simply a misunderstanding of my assignment. But before I provide feedback on what I learned during my seven day roll as Mr. Mom, I feel obligated to share a few things. This job swap was by no means a challenge nor was it the first time I was alone with my four kids under the age of eight. Actually, I have had a lot of practice lately:
…stay with me, I am parachuting down from my soap box.
When Monday June 1st arrived, I jumped out of bed ready to seize the day and go to work. My Mr. Mom duties were over and I was free! The thought of spending eight hours surrounded by fluorescent lights, gray carpet, gray cubicles, and grayish tinted office walls sounded peculiarly delightful. However, as soon as I entered the office building I felt an enormous burden come crashing down on my shoulders. The reality of supporting a family of six, having to act like a grown-up, shower and dress up every day before 7 a.m., having to play office politics and attempt to read, respond to, and file over 700 emails was not nearly as exciting as it sounded just 9 hours earlier. But it did give me the chance to think about my short seven day experience as Mr. Mom.
The biggest surprise by far was how mentally tired I was after just seven days. Physically I was fine but mentally I was completely spent. I was not at all prepared for how the family dynamic could go from Beaver Clever to complete chaos within a matter of seconds, and without warning and within minutes back to euphoria. The cumulative effect of that happening multiple times a day every day was almost debilitating. I just don’t think the human mind (male or female) is wired to work that way for extended periods of time. I am sure the fact that it rained 5 out of 7 days which limited our outdoor time did not exactly help matters.
The other thing that really opened my eyes was how difficult it was to get anything done. When I normally have the kids (not including Jen’s sabbatical), we spend most of our time outside and have a limited schedule because it is usually a weekend. Weekdays are an entirely different ball game. Our schedule was much less busy than a normal week but I was often late or just plain forgot (mommy brain) things. I dreaded going to the grocery store. And the quick errand to grab one or two items I simply refused to do. The prep time was ten times longer than the activity and I did not feel it was worth it. Besides the normal parent responsibilities the only thing I had to do was blog about my day. Sounded simple but I had no idea what blogging was all about and how difficult it would be to do every day. I am amazed at what the CSP chicks produce day in and day out. It is an enormous amount of work and they appear to make it seem so easy.
The third thing that really amazed me was how quickly the kids learned exactly how far they could push me and knew when it was time to pass the torture torch to the next eagerly awaiting sibling. It is very rare that more than one child acted up at the same time and there seemed to be an unwritten rule that everyone needed to take one for the team. In hindsight it was quite fascinating to watch them work.
In summary, the week was far more challenging than I expected. I often thought about how I could have resolved an issue better or been more tolerant in certain situations but I realized how easy it is to beat yourself up to the point where it becomes counter productive. If there was ever a thought (in the back of my mind) that I could do a better job as a parent it has completely vanished, never to surface again. I love our kids more than anything and they are all wonderful, but I am happy to have passed the mommy torch back to its rightful owner. My appreciation for that role has grown exponentially. I feel very confident that our kids feel loved, respected, important and safe, and at the end of the day that is what really matters. We should all do the best we can, cherish even the most challenging moments and give our kids an extra hug today and everyday because this moment in time will pass us by before we know it.
OK, this looks really bad! Yes, I've had a lot of hallpasses this spring – they were already on the calendar before my Mother's Day gift. I guess I was definitely needing a break, huh?! I"m thinking I won't get another hallpass for at least another year!
This is every mom's dream…to have her spouce realize all we do in one day (and why it looks like we've actually done nothing at all, ha ha!).
Jen – you are so lucky to have a husband who can handle things while you are away….especially for a week! My husband still asks me which drawer we keep our daughters pajamas in (and I did not have her yesterday!). I'm not sure I would feel secure enough to leave my daughter alone with my husband for a weekend. Don't get me wrong, I'd LOVE a big fat hallpass. I think I'd worry the whole time that my husband would not know what to do! Is it just me or does anyone else feel this way???
To anonymous above–create some slack in your house and he will have to pick it up. Yes, the ship may not run as smoothly in your absence, but he should be able to survive for at least a weekend. Maybe you are not giving him enough credit? I bet things would be handled better than you think.
My husband can handle them better alone than I can! That being said, he was 100% involved in everything from day one with our twins. He got up every single night with me to feed until they slept through the night, even when I would insist that he should sleep. Both of us work full-time so we've really taken the team approach in that we both can do every part of the parenting process. Now, it is not always done "perfectly" but that is no matter, I think it is great that we have a little bit of a different approach to things (like how much mud can we dig into when searching for worms!). Plus, both of us can go away for work or fun with no worries about how things will turn out. And the best part is…no resentment on either person's part.
Ok, so does Randy get as many hall passes???? We definitely keep score in my house!
I agree that some moms THINK their husbands will not be able to handle it, but they can!!! When I go out of town I honestly don't care what my kids wear, what time they go to bed, what they eat, or what games they play. As long as they are safe and have fun with Dad, that is all that matters. I have never left a list of anything other than energency info and he has always figured it out on his own!
Ya know, believe it or not, he doesn't ask for many hall passes. We definitely don't keep score so to speak, obviously, but neither of us has ever denied the other a pass. So I guess we know when the timing is right. Just for the record, I'm taking the fam minus Randy to Florida for a week later on in the summer, so he'll have some rest from all the hooplah. Boy, once I saw this all in writing, I started feeling super guilty. Blogging is for the birds – ha, ha!
Super cool. You guys make a great team and are showing all of us what true respect and appreciation of our spouses is all about.Randy, you are one funny fella. Your candor and insight has been neat to read. Your comment about scrapping errands where one or two things are needed is one I can relate to 100x over and I only have TWO kids!!Your children are blessed.
I required my husband to read Randy's posts when he asked why I was laughing so hard at that "pink website I'm always on." I think that every new mom should really try to make sure their husband can handle the baby on their own from the very beginning. It is scary but if you start the dad's out early with looking after the kiddos, they will be able to do it as they grow. GREAT IDEA to put your husband and his experiences on the blog!!!