Apr 26 2008

Adventures Of The Lone Househusband – A Spaghetti Western

Published by at 10:17 pm under Parenting

It’s been almost two weeks since Corporate Babe went away on an overseas business trip. Naturally, the kids and I miss her a lot and we are looking forward to seeing her again tomorrow when she comes home.

In these past two weeks, I have come to realize the greatest challenge I face as a househusband and stay-at-home dad. I suppose I should really start by explaining the circumstances that brought about this realization.

As soon as my wife left, the children started their school holidays. And as soon as my kids started their school holidays, they all got sick. At one point, I even had to take Destructo, my 4-year old, to the hospital, where he was diagnosed with croup and had to be given treatment and was kept under observation all night in the children’s ward.

Not only were the kids sick throughout their school holidays, but it also rained incessantly during all this time, which meant we had to spend all of this time indoors.

My mental state during this time didn’t help things either. I have been feeling depressed for quite some time now due to several things and was unable to go to sleep while my wife was away. As a result of this, I have stayed up at night during these past two weeks, watching rented DVD movies on my computer until 2, 3 and even occasionally 4:00 am. To make things even worse, my mother has been calling me every day or so to report on the condition of one of her dogs which has been recently diagnosed with lymphoma.

Even though I decided I would do little to no work on my businesses while Corporate Babe was away and the children were on holidays, I ended up spending most of my time isolating inside my office at home, staring at nothing too important on my computer while the children sat in another part of the house watching DVDs on one of our other computers, or played by themselves in the living room. And when I did come out of my room, I found myself clutching the thick book of collected science fiction stories by Arthur C. Clarke that I borrowed from the local library (incidentally, Arthur Clarke died the week I borrowed his book!).

Absorbed in my book then, I did occasionally sit with my kids, but I wasn’t really participating in their world. I was isolating in mine.

All of the above contributed to the problem, but the one single event that helped me realize the greatest challenge I face as a househusband and stay-at-home dad, happened one night after dinner.

I mentioned in an earlier post that I set a rule when my wife went away that the kids were only allowed to ask for McDonald’s three times during the entire two week period of their school holidays. I am happy to report that we all adhered to this rule. It did mean, however, that I would have to figure out 11 other dinner meals for the kids during this time that did not involve driving through the golden arches.

And so, one night while shopping for groceries with the children at the local supermarket, I decided that I would make them a homemade spaghetti bolognese. I picked up a packet of durum wheat spaghetti, a can of crushed tomatoes and half a kilo of freshly minced meat.

As I was walking through the aisles, I suddenly came across a can of ready-made spaghetti meat sauce. Just heat the can and serve over the pasta! I looked at the can and its promise of quick, easy nutritious convenience, and then I looked at my shopping trolley and thought about all the work I’d have to put into making the meat sauce from scratch. In the end, I figured out that the can of ready made sauce cost less than a third of the cost of buying the mince meat and crushed tomatoes, and so I decided to go with the cheaper and more convenient option.

This was a big mistake and I should have seen it coming. As I sat there looking at my kids laboring disappointedly through their “awful-tasting” dinner, their faces unable to hide their displeasure and disgust at having to eat what is normally one of their favorite meals (“this doesn’t taste at all like mommy’s s’ghetti!” Exacto exclaimed revulsively!), tears of shame, guilt and sadness started pouring down my face.

That’s when I realized that the greatest challenge I face as a househusband and stay-at-home dad, is that not only do my kids – like all children – need an adult to look after them properly, but I do too.

As a man in his early forties, I need to say goodbye to the regressed teenager that lives inside my head and start becoming the grown-up parent that my kids are depending on for emotional security, happiness and wellbeing.

Tomorrow, when my wife comes home, my kids will greet their mom as survivors, mostly due to their own resilience and strength of character. For my part, I hope to learn from the events of these past two weeks and so I have decided to cook tomorrow’s welcome home family dinner … spaghetti bolognese with real meat sauce – just like “mommy’s s’ghetti” and no shortcuts this time!

The Lazy Househusband

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