M: ” My husband is on tour”
X: ” Again? Poor you!”
X: ” Is the Daddy coming for little one’s PTA meeting?”
M: ” No, but I will be there ”
X:” Aww.. Poor you, almost a single parent. How do you do it? ”
M: ( imagining punching her over sympathetic face.)
Sounds familiar? Then you will have fun reading ahead.
It takes two to make a baby unless you went the doner sperm way, or are a single parent of an adopted child. But in most cases, it takes two to procreate, and then the baby gets a Mommy & a Daddy to care for her and raise her in the best way they can.
In a lot of households, both the parents work to provide for the family and to achieve their dreams and career goals. In a lot of households, one parent works and the other one takes over as the Vice President of House management, Child management, Logistics & stakeholders management. We call this person, Stay at home mom or Stay at home dad as the case be.
So, this division of duties & responsibilities is mostly done keeping the goal in mind. Goal is typically set with good intentions and with a resolve to compliment your partner and raising a wonderful little person.
As time progresses, many insecurities, communication gaps, expectation gaps emerge and it then becomes the prerogative of the partners to meet each other half way. To remind themselves that they are a team. To play together and not against each other. To not blame each other ‘s work and occupation and especially not to undermine the efforts they take on a daily basis to provide the family with their best.
Since I am a wife of a globe trotting, very driven, hardworking husband, who is a very dedicated family man but also an ambitious executive, I am left managing our fort alone a lot of time while he is away for business. If I was not a senior management executive myself before I took a break to raise my little one, I may not have understood the work pressure he bears as a professional. To add to that, since he is currently the only earning member of our family, he also has this added stress to provide for the financial security of our family. It’s not an easy task. For example, he does not have the luxury of slapping a resignation and go backpacking anymore, just as I don’t have the luxury to sleep in and stop Mommying around the days I am down with a flu. We both are working hard with utmost sincerity and focus in our designated line of work.
When my husband comes back home from work, he spends all his waking hours with our child and me. He feeds the baby, plays with her, teaches her cool stuff and wipes her dirty bum after potty. So he is a pretty hands on father. But he is ( mostly) not available for her school functions, or PTA meetings or even pediatric appointments. And guess what, it’s OK. It’s not preferable obviously, but it’s OK. Because I know, if he could, he would.
As a stay at home partner it’s my duty to give him benefit of doubt. It’s not easy. There are days when I feel very exhausted, and lonely and overwhelmed, and I am sure there are days when he feels trapped in his business suit too, but it’s a choice. We made it, when we decided to have a baby.
So since I am just about getting in terms with parenting with his limited presence physically around us at this point in time, I have a few tips to share with you.
These tips will come in handy to give you a more positive perspective and hopefully it will lead to less conflicts at home and more brownie points for the both of you.
1. Do not compare
Do not compare with other parents. Period. If some one else ‘s husband is home at 4pm and is always available cheering up the child and the wife on national day, and sports day and pta meetings and Facebook wall, look at them, smile, grind your teeth a bit and move on.
He is not your husband. He is not the father of your child and you can do nothing about it. You have your very own walking talking loving man that you got married to and had a baby with, respect him. Respect his uniqueness and respect your marriage.
2. Share a calender
If your partner is a traveller or has many important meetings to attend or busy schedule, do plan in advance. Give him/ her ample notice of event you definitely, surely want him to attend. Make a note of it on his calender with the picture of your angry face so he/ she knows, skipping this is non – negotiable. Once you have done it, let it go. Cross your finger and now the ball is in his court. Let him figure out or explain to you.
3. Do not brood, crib, sulk or nag .
If your husband is really a good father but is going through a very busy phase at work, so has been missing on a lot of appointments or happy family events lately, why brood about it? Show a little understanding and compassion and ask him to make up for it after this phase gets over ( big project, business deal, new acquisition, whatever)
If your husband is really not into you and would rather be at work than spend time with you and the kids, then also why act despondent? This clearly cannot be solved by cribbing or nagging him. This situation will need counseling may be, clear communication or some very serious decisions.. In any case, cribbing about it won’t help.
Got my point? Why mope & pine about it and make yourself sad. Get busy in your life, fill your free time with your friends,books & passion. You will always miss your busy partner, but you don’t have to cling on to him. Keep your life going and brimming with activities.
4. Be grateful
If you are a stay at home partner, realise that you have the privilege to be one. I am sure there are a lot of people out there who would like to spend as much time with their kids as you do. You get to see their first crawl, first walk, first everything. They take your name all day long, their world is lit up by your presence. You are their comfort zone, their preferred parent. Isn’t that something to feel smug about?
I bet there are many single parents around who single handedly raise their children by playing both the roles of father and mother in their life. They don’t have a support system. You do. Be grateful. If you must compare, compare with people who got it tougher than you and then you will be happier.
5. Make the Busy Partner responsible for Family Time.
So what if he could not be there for your kid’s Christmas party, make it his responsibly to plan a special Christmas event of your own. Let him take out time from his busy schedule to make up for the lost time.
Try and make the most of weekends and holidays that you get together. If your partner comes back after the bed time of your child, let him be the one to spend 15-20 minutes with the child in the morning before the child leaves for school or he/ she leaves for work. Isn’t it much better than nagging him/ her down?
Your child is your priority. Your marriage is your responsibility and your happiness is your choice. Once you imbibe this deep in your mind and repeat it every time you get bogged down, missing the presence of your working partner, you will see the light.