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.