Nov 11 2010

Why Househusbands Should Bum More Around The House

Being a househusband has its privileges.

Like being able to tease my kids … a lot!

Now, I realize that teasing your own children is something that all regular, idiot dads do. It’s built into our Dad DNA. We can’t help it. We are compelled to do things that make our kids roll their eyes around in their sockets, make pouting faces, and go “Daa-aad!”

What makes being a househusband and a stay-at-home dad so special for me, however, is that since I am the one who is responsible for getting the kids up and ready for school in the mornings, I get to tease them when they’re most sleepy, vulnerable and prone to irritation. And I get to do it everyday.

Take this morning, for instance.

Corporate Babe was in the shower, getting ready for work. What perfect timing. Knowing she couldn’t hear a thing with all that water splashing down, I crawled out of bed and headed straight for Filosofo’s room.

I entered quietly and looked down at my soporific 11-year old son. The sun was shining brightly through the window, streaming a beam of intense light and heat directly onto his face, yet this did not bother him a bit.

“Come on Fi … time to wake up,” I said gently.

Nothing happened.

“Come on, it’s time to get up,” I spoke a little bit louder. “We’re going to be late for school.”

Filosofo lay there still. Immovable. Unstirring. Sun shining right into his face. How do they do this?

“Oh well … I tried!” I said. I then bent down closer to his ear and burst into song using a special loud, obnoxious and strangulated voice I reserve for moments such as these.

OH BABY, I’M SLEEPING LIKE A LOG,
WHO CARES IF IT’S A SCHOOL DAY MAMA,
DUDE I’M JUST GONNA KEEP ON SLEEPING, RIGHT ON YEAH,
WITH THE SUN SHI-I-I-NING BRIGHTLY ON MY FA-ACE, OH LORD YEAH!

THE SUN SHINING BRI-I-I-I-IGHTLY ON MY FA-ACE …

“Sto-o-op!!” He groans. Groggily annoyed, he turns away from my singing and buries his head under the pillow.

OH BABY, I’M JUST GONNA KEEP SLEEPING LIKE A LOG … YEAH,
COZ NOW MY HEAD IS BURIED IN THE PILLOW AND I’M ALL NICE AND COZY IN THE DARK … OH YEAH,
BUT I REALLY NEED TO PEE, SWEET MAMA … OH HOW I NEED TO PEE,
YEAH I’M BUSTING TO PEE AND I CAN’T HOLD IT IN ANY LONGER … NO SWEET LORD … I GOTTA PEE SO BAD, SO BAD I TELL YA,
PISH, PISH, PISH, OH HOW I WISH I COULD KEEP ON SLEEPING BUT IF I DON’T GET UP RIGHT NOW I’M GONNA WET MY BED … COZ I’M A BUSTIN’ AND I REALLY NEED TO PEE
OH BOY I REALLY NEED TO PEE SO BADLY, PISH, PISH PISH, WHY AM I DREAMING OF WATERFALLS, AND RIVERS, AND OCEAN WAVES, AND GARDEN STATUES PEEING IN FOUNTAINS, AND WHY AM I TURNING ON ALL THE TAPS IN THE HOUSE, AND LOTS OF WATER IS POURING DOWN FROM THE FRONT OF MY PEE-JAMA PANTS, YEAH BABY …

“Oh Daa-aad! You’re so annoying!” Filosofo grunts, finally getting out of bed and heading straight for the toilet to empty his bursting bladder.

One down, two more victims to go.

Corporate Babe is now out of the shower. She didn’t hear me taunting my eldest son, so I switch to a sweet hymn as I walk past her down the corridor towards the room where the two youngest boys are still sleeping, but not for long … he, he!

Oh Boys, How I Adore Thee,
Oh Boys, How I Adore Thee,
You Are The Sweetest Kids Of All,
And We Love Thee

A few minutes later, the kids are all sitting around the kitchen table staring down blankly and silently into their cereal bowls, while Corporate Babe and I are singing and praising their virtues.

I am making their school lunch. Corporate Babe is in the next room ironing her clothes.

“Aren’t these the most wonderful kids ever?” I shout out, loud and proud. Corporate Babe agrees.

“Can I make you a cheese and mouse whiskers sandwich?” I ask Exacto. I know he doesn’t like cheese in his sandwiches.

“Daa-aad!”

Bingo. We’re on for round 2.

“Oh Babe … how can we keep them sweet and wonderful for ever?” I ask my wife when she walks past me buttoning up her shirt. She head over to the kitchen table and gives all the boys morning hugs and kisses.

“They will always be sweet and wonderful” she replies. Destructo snuggles into his Mom, hoping to steal a few more seconds of sleep.

“Just like me, huh?” I ask her. She rolls her eyes and says nothing.

“Oh well … I guess that’s what happens when kids grow up!” I say.

“How about a cheese and butterfly wings sandwich?” I ask Exacto, who is staring blankly at the back of the Coco Pops cereal box.

Exacto snaps momentarily out of whatever daydream he’s been having and completely ignores my menu suggestion.

“What happens when kids grow up?” He asks.

I didn’t say that’s what happens when kids grow up. I said that’s what happens when kids throw up!”

“Daa-aad … you did not say that!” Destructo protests, pulling his head away from his mother’s bosom.

Three out of Three. Gotch’em!

“Say what?” Corporate Babe chimes in.

“I said … that’s what happens when kids blow up!”

“Daa-aad!”

Ha! Now they’re all enrolled in my little taunting game. It’s still early morning and I have barely gotten started.

Corporate Babe leaves the room with her laptop under one arm, and the rest of her clothes draped over the other arm. I watch her bum disappear through the door.

Time to switch tactics and take it up another notch. I start singing softly …

Little scurrying ant,
Carrying that big crumb,
Little scurrying ant,
Don’t fall on your big … la la la!

“Daa-aad!” Destructo blurts out. “You are not allowed to swear!”
“I didn’t swear.”
“You did! You were going to say BUM!”
“I never said BUM! I don’t say the word BUM! I never, ever use words like BUM! Ever!!”
“Daa-aad .. you just said it!”
“No I didn’t say BUM. You said BUM. I don’t say BUM. I don’t even know the word BUM.”
“Daa-aad!”
“What? I … Don’t … Say … The … Word … BUM! It’s rude to say BUM! Now finish eating your Coco Pops! BUM.”
“Daa-aad! You just said it again!”
“What … what did I say?”
“You said BUM.”
“Hey!” I say reproachfully. “Please don’t use the word BUM in this house again! It’s rude to say words like BUM and you shouldn’t say BUM in front of your older brothers. Don’t say BUM in front of them, don’t say BUM in front of MUM, and never say BUM in front of me, because I never, ever say BUM. BUM BUM BUM It’s DUM DUM DUM. Now hurry up and eat your Coco BUMs – I mean Coco Pops, or we’ll be late for BUM … I mean school!”
“Daa-aad!” He is laughing so hard, it’s hard to keep a straight face.

Little scurrying ant,
Carrying that big crumb,
Little scurrying ant,
Don’t fall on your big … la la la!

“Daa-aad!”

And so it goes all the way from the kitchen to the car.

Now we’re in the car, driving to school. Filosofo and Exacto are absorbed reading a book. Destructo is playing with one of his stuffed toys. Probably “Little Lion”, or “Peed On Pork Chop Piggy”.

This is my last chance to squeeze a little more “irk juice” out of the kids. I reach into my pocket and pull out a single little LEGO brick I picked up off the floor as I was walking down the stairs and heading for the car on our way out. Without taking my eyes off the road, I stretch my arm behind me towards the backseat where my youngest son is sitting and humming, and proffer the little plastic brick.

“Hey … you want to play with some LEGO?”

“Daa-aad! That’s just one piece of LEGO. You can’t do anything with it!”

“Of course you can! You can build lots and lots of amazing things with just one single LEGO brick. Spaceships, castles with drawbridges and crocodile infested moats, Quantum Drive Transmogrificators …”

“Daa-aad! You can’t do any of those things!”

“Now boys … have I ever told you about how when I was a kid, we were so poor, that all I ever had to play with was just two little small potatoes? I would spend hours and hours playing with those two little small potatoes, making all kinds of the most amazing and incredible things you can’t even imagine. And that was just two little potatoes.  Now … If only I had had a single little LEGO brick like this one to combine with the potatoes …”

“DAA-AAD! S-T-O-O-O-OP!!”

A long time ago, one of the mothers at my kids’ school suggested we carpool and take turns driving our children. Less than two weeks later, all three of my kids complained about the arrangement. They said they really missed not having me drive them to school in the mornings, even if my jokes were really bad and I was so annoying. I was deeply touched.

Being a househusband does have its privileges.

The Lazy Househusband

2 responses so far

Nov 04 2010

The Homeless Househusband Of Cherry Tree Lane

Published by under Househusband

Can a man without a home to care for still be called a househusband?

Not that I have invested a great deal of time or effort caring for the home we presently live in – I haven’t, as I have spent most of my time at home working more than managing it – but the owner of the house we’ve been renting for the past 4 years now wants it back and we’ve got to be out of here before the month’s end.

After spending the past month searching frantically for a new home to move into with no success thus far, the only positive thing I can say about house hunting is that it gives you an opportunity to have some quality family time on the weekends – even if much of it is spent driving in circles around suburbia with the kids in the back annoying each other, and arguing with my wife because she simply refuses to use a simple street directory when directing me to the next home inspection on our list, preferring instead to navigate using her Blackberry GPS phone satellite-based map app that takes so long to download, that by the time she tells me to take the next turn left, I’ve already missed it by 200 meters.

The pressure to find a new home, get a new lease agreement approved and signed, organize the move, pack up all of our stuff and be out of our current address with our rental bond hopefully intact in less than 4 weeks time is growing day by day.

But you wouldn’t know this by looking at us.

We’re as cool as cucumbers.

And the secret reason why, is that I’ve chosen to deal with this situation in the same way as I’ve handled every other major upheaval in our lives since Corporate Babe and I got married over 17 years ago.

I just have to get out of my own way, have faith in the Universe, and trust my wife.

This is the only method I’ve discovered that is guaranteed to work for someone like me.

When Corporate Babe is on the job, going out house hunting on the weekends is a magical road trip for the whole family.

Take us on outings, give us treats
Sing songs, bring sweets …

Armed with her list and phone-based GPS, Corporate Babe, the kids and I head off to inspect homes in sunny, sparkly, faraway places that offer unlimited potential for us to explore new lifestyle options (like sharing a house with owners who can’t afford to pay their mortgage), and we’re all singing Mary Poppins songs and making silly faces at each other as we’re driving along, pointing at rainbows and smiling and waving at people who smile and wave right back at us.

Precision and order
He wants nothing less …

The moment I try to assume control of the situation, however, everything stops being fun. No more smiles and sparkles and rainbows. No more happy show tunes from my merry singalong quartet. My attempt to inject a dose of “reality” into our Disney lives has come off badly for me … again.

Oh, it’s a jolly holiday
With you, Bert

Whilst I remain the sovereign, all we see when we look out the car window is drab, suburban sameness and unsmiling, unfriendly people looking menacingly back at us, like we’re not welcome to rent a home in their neighborhood.

Chim chiminey chim chiminey chim chim cheroo
When I lead the way, our househunting expedition goes from “whoopee” to “wee-poo” …

I don’t “lead” the way, I just “get” in the way.

To everyone else in the car, I probably look like I’m just panicking for no good reason. So what if we haven’t found a new home to move into yet and we’re getting kicked out of the one we’re living in less than four weeks from now?

“Just relax, Dad!” I can hear them all thinking. “You were only s’posed to take a spoonful a sugar, Dad, not guzzle the whole jar down!”

Chim chiminey chim chiminey chim chim cheroo
I does not likes all these things what I do …

Has not the universe always delivered everything we need, every day, on time, and in a perfect way?

Then why should it not deliver to us now, a 4 bedroom, 2 bathroom home, with a double lock up garage, ample storage space, good internet coverage, room in the yard for a 14 foot trampoline (swimming pool optional), a kitchen with a dishwasher, a couple of additional living areas – hopefully one of these being a study/office space with a window looking out on something pleasant, 20-25 minutes maximum driving distance from the kids school and Corporate Babe’s work … and all within our specified budget?

I just need to get out of my own way, let the Universe do its thing, have more faith and trust my wife.

Now, my wife, she’s practically perfect in every way …

The week after our real estate agent mailed us our eviction notice, Corporate Babe announced she was going to hold a weekend long garage sale.

I freaked. I tried reminding her that, with so little time to find a new home, this was a major detour from everything that had to be prioritized and done so we could oblige the real estate’s wishes, and that sitting around for a whole weekend waiting for people to come and buy our junk was an absolute waste of precious time, but it just seemed to come off as shouting.

Corporate Babe remained unmoved and just sat there twirling an umbrella. I couldn’t even turn to Filosofo, my oldest son for support, as he was already fully enrolled in the project and was busy sketching out “Moving Sale” posters to nail on all the telephone poles around Cherry Tree Lane.

This was unbelievable. We were not strolling through a cartoon sequence of animated brooks and meadows and cute furry forest creatures. We were standing ankle deep in a room littered with toys, stuffed animals and childhood debris.

So, I told my family I was not going to get involved in or be any part of the garage sale.

“Fine” said my wife. She stopped twirling the broken child umbrella she had picked up, threw it into a corner of the room and started sorting through individual Lego pieces, looking for stuff to sell in her upcoming garage sale.

“Fine” I said back, and marched upstairs wishing I could just float out the window and away from this mess. We had less than six weeks to move house and my wife was engaged in something akin to sorting through shells in a beach, looking for pretty ones to either keep or toss back into the ocean.

Needless to say, they had a terrific garage sale and made a lot of money. This happened despite the fact that Corporate Babe didn’t get around to putting up signs until two days before the garage sale and then immediately afterwards, a storm hit our area and the wind and rain blew most of the signs away. Yet, people somehow managed to find the garage sale throughout the weekend and flocked to it in droves waving cash in their fists.

As Corporate Babe and Filosofo counted the money afterwards and gloated at their success, I admit I felt a tinge of guilt, shame and remorse. I felt guilty for not having participated in the event, was ashamed for having had such little faith in what my family can accomplish under chaotic circumstances, and was remorseful that I didn’t put out my collection of Black Sabbath records for sale with all the other junk that got sold.

Right now, as I write this, I have been given yet another opportunity to learn not only how to get out of my own way and have faith that the universe will always deliver exactly what is needed, but also to trust my wife more in her way of going about things.

Exacto, our middle child, has gone away for three days on a school trip, and Corporate Babe has decided to accompany his class. So, yesterday morning, my wife and eight year old son took off with a tent and a guitar in the back of her car.

They’re on a magical road trip once again to faraway, sparkly places, singing Mary Poppins songs together and making silly faces at each other as they’re driving along, pointing at rainbows and smiling and waving at people who smile and wave right back at them.

And I’m sitting at home trying not to panic … trying not to keep staring at the red mark on the kitchen wall calendar that circles an ominous date that is going to arrive a little over three weeks from today.

I just have to remember that things always work out. The Universe always has and always will deliver to us everything we need, every day, on time, and in a perfect way.

All I have to do is get out of my own way, have faith, trust my wife and let it all happen.

Chim chiminey chim chiminey chim chim cheroo
She does what she likes and I likes what she do …

The Lazy Househusband

2 responses so far

Jan 28 2009

Say Please To Cheese And Tickle A Pickle!

Published by under Fun

We’re only a few days away now from the end of the school holidays. What seemed like a daunting task six weeks ago – keeping three highly energetic children fed, happy and entertained for a month and a half – is coming so quickly to an end, that I can only describe what I am currently feeling as a mixture of tremendous “grief” with a deep sense of gratitude.

I grieve the fact that I will never see my kids again as I have seen them all this summer. In a few months Filosofo will turn 10, Exacto 7 and Destructo 5. All three will be at school full-time soon and my time with them will be just a distant, happy memory in the years to come.

It’s the little things they say and do now that I will grieve the most when they move on to the next phase of growth and development. Destructo’s favorite color will soon no longer be “lello” but yellow, and he will stop referring to the little dots on his chest as his “nibbles”.

Exacto has the brilliant mind of an engineer. I am afraid that the more he unravels the way the universe works, the more he will see that the fantastic ideas and inventions I share with him are quite unrealizable. Like the button on the dashboard of my car that allows us to fly over other cars and avoid getting stuck in traffic jams. He no longer buys my look of surprise when I press the button and, instead of the car flying like a rocket through the air, the radio starts playing instead, and I then have to feign mock anger and start cursing the auto technician who forgot to install the “flying rocket” button. Nor does he believe anymore that I can get R2D2 from Star Wars to say hello whenever we exit the motorway and the electronic tag on the car beeps to confirm that I have paid the toll. Soon he will give me the same look of disdain that I get from his older brother. I just hope he never stops saying “Thank you Daddy … I love you!” whenever I give him something simple that he wants, like a glass of milk, or a chocolate cookie.

I also grieve deeply for Filosofo. Soon, in the blink of an eye, he will morph into a teenager and I have no idea what will happen then. I know that I will probably beat myself up for having been so preoccupied with my own thoughts about finances, business and other matters that seem so important to me now, that I frequently cut him short when he tries to tell me (without taking a breath between sentences) how the entire universe of computer games like “Civilization” or “The Age Of Mythology” is structured and how all the various characters are interrelated, what powers they do or do not have and so on. I dread to think that someday I might have to prompt him to talk to me only to discover that he is too preoccupied with his own thoughts to engage in a conversation with his Dad.

Right now, however, I feel truly, deeply grateful that I am the guy who looks after my kids and the one who got to be with them all throughout the school holidays. I am grateful that I stuck to my decision at the end of last year that I was not going to prioritize working on my businesses, and that I was going to be available to my children for the entire six week holiday period.

Corporate Babe only got ten days annual leave before she had to be back at work, so during her time off, we took the kids to the beach, where they swam and played in the waves and in the sand until sunset. After my wife returned to work, I set up an above ground portable swimming pool in our backyard for them to splash around in, took them to parks, organized play dates with many of their friends and, during the days we just lazed around at home, sat down to watch movies or play Wii games with them.

I spent the holidays with my kids. This makes me feel like a very lucky and privileged man. Some of the moms I met up with during the holidays told me they really wished their husbands could have taken more time off work to do what I was doing and I wish they could have too. Being with my boys this summer was a precious gift and made me realize how truly grateful I am for the opportunity I have of being a househusband and a stay-at-home dad. This year I plan to embrace the responsibilities of this role a lot more fully than I have ever done.

In a few days, my kids will go back to school and my special time with them will be mostly confined to car trips to and from school, a couple of hours in the afternoon and early evening, and weekends. This will be great too, as I am also looking forward to achieving some of my long-term business goals this year, and will have a few uninterrupted hours each day in which to do my work.

The car trips to and from school, however, are very special for me. I discovered this last year, when one of the moms at school suggested we try car pooling our kids. She offered to pick up my three boys and drive them to school in the morning, and I reciprocated by picking up her three boys and driving them home in the afternoon.

Although this seemed like a good idea and an efficient way of doing things for us parents at the time, the kids didn’t seem too happy about it. They probably felt like they were just being “bussed” around. After a week or so, my kids turned to me and asked if we were going to be doing this forever. When I asked them what was wrong, they told me that they really missed just being with me in the car. They missed me telling them jokes and stories that made them laugh, and singing them silly made-up songs, like “Say Please To Cheese And Tickle A Pickle”.

After they told me this, I immediately canceled the car pooling arrangement with the other mom. I am happy now to just be the singing fool who takes his kids to school and back.

Tomorrow, Corporate Babe and I celebrate being married for 16 years and my kids are really excited about it. Filosofo has been insisting for the past week that we go to The Cheesecake Shop and pick up a Chocolate Jamaican Cheesecake. When I asked him why this was so important given the fact that he doesn’t like cake, he said he was planning a surprise cake for our wedding anniversary 🙂

Anyway, Corporate Babe and I plan to celebrate our 16th wedding anniversary by taking the kids to our favorite local chinese restaurant for dinner, then maybe spending a little quiet time together after we come home and put the children to bed.

Say please to cheese(cake), eat oodles of noodles, and tickle a pickle!

The Lazy HouseHusband

No responses yet

Sep 06 2008

The Lazy Househusband – Fat, Forty And Fired Up!

Published by under Family

During a recent weekend “playdate” with another family whose three children are all in the same classes as our three boys, I was lent a book called “Fat, Forty And Fired” by one of the parents.

This book tells the story of an English advertising and marketing executive called Nigel Marsh, who moves with his family to Australia is fired from his job shortly after arriving in the country. Nigel decides to take a year off to spend time getting reacquainted with his family, to rethink his life and to work on some of his personal goals.

The author is a really funny guy and some of the situations he describes in the book are hilarious. In fact, as he started moving more and more into a “househusband” role, I started wishing that I had come up with some of his lines for similar situations that I (and I suspect many other “stay-at-home” dads) have experienced.

But then, something happens towards the end of the book, which left me feeling really disappointed. I hope readers won’t mind me saying this (it’s not like I’m giving away the ending of the new Harry Potter movie, or something like that!) … Nigel is offered a new corporate job, and he decides to take it. After some time has passed and Nigel has settled back into his old working life, he concludes that the fabled “work-family balance” is not something that is possible to achieve.

This really pissed me off.

I disagree with Nigel.

Reading his book made me realize some really important things, which I’d like to share with you here.

The first thing I realized, was that being a househusband requires a much deper commitment than just taking “a year off” from work to spend some time with your family and see how things go. Sure, it can start off that way, but at some point, you have to go from becoming “involved” to becoming “committed”.

It’s like a story I really like about having an “eggs and ham” breakfast. In an “eggs and ham” breakfast, the chicken is involved, but the pig is committed.

I have to be honest and say that two years after agreeing to become a househusband while Corporate Babe returned to work, I am still struggling with my commitment.

Sure, I am more involved, now, but there’s still a lot of things I could be doing better in terms of looking after the kids and managing the household.

And this is where my second disagreement with the author of “Fat, Forty and Fired” arises.

I DO believe that it is possible to achieve a work-family balance.

But not by becoming dependent on working a regular 9-5 job for a regular paycheck.

I believe it can be achieved through a carefully crafted vision, a realistic plan and a profitable home-based business.

The vision must start by believing that a work-family balance is possible.

A realistic plan is then needed to build a lifestyle based on this possibility.

And finally, the business has to incorporate the planned lifestyle and allow us to realize the vision.

Right now, I’m still in the process of putting in long hours trying to build a home-based online business, so I can’t say with complete and utter conviction that achieving a work-family balance is definitely possible.

But I have been working towards this goal for a very long time and I can tell you that I won’t be “copping out” on my commitment to become a successful househusband just because someone comes along and offers me a job with a regular paycheck.

I have nothing against jobs – in fact, I am grateful that my wife has one and that her job is keeping us going. I just know that I don’t want a job … what I want, is to build a profitable business and to become more involved with my kids after school, during meals, at bedtime and on weekends. I want to be able to get up earlier during weekdays not to train for marathons or to compete in swimming events, but so that we are not rushing late to school every morning, and I also want to start devoting a few more hours to managing the house on Mondays and Fridays when Destructo is home with me (right now he only goes to school Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays), so that Corporate Babe can come home to a tidy and orderly household after a long day spent working in an office.

Right now, I’ve got three days a week (from 9:30 am to 2:30 pm) to build my business, and the rest of the time to work on achieving that elusive “work-family balance” that Nigel Marsh says is not possible to achieve.

I believe it can be done – that men can have a successful and rewarding career and spend more time at home with their children and family – especially in this “Information Age” economy – and I plan to keep you updated on how I’m doing in my quest in future posts!

The Lazy Househusband

No responses yet

May 14 2008

To Sleep, Perchance To Dream …

Published by under Family

It was cold outside the sheets this morning when the alarm went off at 6:00 am. I always set my alarm to ring one and a half hours before I have to get up. This gives me plenty of time to sleep in. 15 minutes on either side for snoozing and a full hour of slumber in between – a trick I learned in my childhood.

I slid over a little bit and found Corporate Babe’s warm body. She turned in to snuggle me and began to gently stroke the back of my neck. I buried my face into the toasty spot between her neck and shoulder. Feeling all cuddly and serene, I started dozing off again.

This delicious moment of peace, love and tranquility lasted all of about two seconds. Exacto shattered the bliss by opening the bedroom door and walking in with a whiny, crying voice.

“Weee … weee … weee … weee” was all I could make out of what he was saying.

“What’s that honey? You wet your bed? You’ve peed all over your pajamas and bedsheets? It’s okay, honey, don’t cry! Please don’t stand there naked … it’s really cold! Come into bed with mommy and daddy and let’s have a nice cuddle.”

The neck strokes suddenly ceased. Any hopes of a peaceful, quiet sleep-in were also dashed. As Marlin the clownfish exclaimed in “Finding Nemo”, the “happy” feeling was gone. Corporate Babe turned her back on me and rolled over to cuddle our son.

And, just like a movie script, no sooner had my wife abandoned me for our soon-to-be 6 year-old, Destructo marched into the bedroom demanding equal cuddle time.

“I want to lie down next to you too mommy!”

“That’s a little bit difficult, sweetie. Your brother is on one side and your daddy is on the other.”

“I WANT TO LIE DOWN NEXT TO YOU TOO MOMMY!!” He shouted.

“Honey …”

I knew who that tone of voice was being directed at. I wasn’t going to budge from my spot on the bed, so, without changing position, I just shut my eyes tighter and tried turning my ears off.

Destructo couldn’t care less. He was already crawling over his brother to claim his spot in our bed. A verbal and physical joust for a “snuggle spot” next to my wife ensued between the two younger siblings. I tried burying my face deeper into the pillow, but I knew it was hopeless. I was now just marking time in bed with my eyes closed.

Then, just as a compromise seemed to have been reached between the kids (one next to her, one on top of her), Corporate Babe’s radio alarm went off and the room filled with loud annoying chatting coming from the morning radio announcers. This got my kids going and soon everyone was talking and wriggling about.

With no other option left but to surrender, I slid off my little corner of the bed and got up.

Welcome to another day in the life of …

The Lazy Househusband

No responses yet

May 12 2008

Walking With Househusbands – Problem-Solving In The Cave

Househusbands approach domestic situations in ways that are often very hard for their partners to comprehend.

Now, I don’t want to ignite a gender debate here. But take for instance what happened the week Corporate Babe returned from her two-week business trip abroad.

After returning from the office one evening early in the week and greeting me at home, I said to her in an apologetic tone, “I’m sorry the kitchen is a mess and the dishes from last night haven’t been done.”

Corporate Babe embraced me with warmth and sympathy.

“Honey, it’s okay! I know that looking after three kids on your own for the past two weeks has taken a lot out of you. Don’t worry about the kitchen. I don’t feel like cooking anyway, so why don’t we just order some takeout tonight.”

Next evening, when Corporate Babe came back from work, I apologized once again, “I’m sorry the kitchen is a mess and the dishes from last night haven’t been done.”

Once again, Corporate Babe was extremely kind and sympathetic.

“Honey, it’s okay! You need to recover and get your energy back. We can just use paper plates and plastic cutlery tonight.”

The third time I wasn’t so lucky. After getting home, Corporate Babe went into the kitchen first, before coming to greet me in my office.

“Honey, you’re gonna have to do something about those dishes staked up in the sink. I have nothing to cook with and we have nothing to eat on!”

Reluctantly, I got up from my office chair and followed my wife into the kitchen. She didn’t say a word. She just sat down at her laptop in the kitchen counter, next to the stinky, overflowing garbage bin (how can people work like that?) and started typing away at the keyboard.

I walked around to inspect the kitchen sink. All the pots and pans were at the bottom of the pile. Above those, were a stack of plates exposing different food strata. The wobbly plates on the top layer were precariously held together with remnants of my spaghetti and meat sauce dinner. The food composition on the lower levels was harder to determine with accuracy, as the erosive agents of time and stagnant dishwater had already begun to attack these. Above the shifting tectonic plate pile, were the more recent artefacts of recently eaten lunches and the morning’s breakfast (of which nothing was left, save the empty shells of two hard boiled eggs).

As I stood there examining the ruins (an ancient food pyramid perhaps?), I noticed Corporate Babe had stopped typing and was staring at me, with only her eyebrows egging me on.

Carefully, gently, I started slowly removing the layers from the pile, separating the dinnerware from the dinner “whateveritwas”, isolating the easy from the greasy and the oiled from the boiled.

And then I found it!

Looking back at Corporate Babe with a triumphant smile, I motioned her to come around to the sink.

“Come here! Look into the murky waters, there by floating strands of spaghetti and tell me what you see!” I said gloating.

Corporate Babe peeked over the sink and wrinkled her nose.

“It’s a dead, floating cockroach!” she said.

“EXACTLY!!” I exclaimed with sublime contentment. “Let me explain …”

And so, with a smug tone and a cocky grin, like a mixture of Hercules Poirot in the closing chapter of a gripping Agatha Christie novel and Scooby Doo’s Mystery Inc gang unmasking the bad guy, I let the events of the past few days unravel for the benefit of my lovely and long-suffering spouse …

“You see, for the past few days I have been studying the elusive behavior of this one particular cockroach. It was a smart one. Wise … savvy … a survivor! When I first spotted it running across the kitchen counter, I tried to catch it, but it outsmarted me. It weaved and I ducked. It zigged when I zagged. It went hip when I hopped and jumped right when I left. Every time I tried stepping on it, it was already one step ahead, side-stepping me!”

“Determined not to be outdone by this little vermin, I began to observe it like a crocodile ready to ambush its prey. I became the ‘Cocky Hunter’, familiarizing myself with this little creature’s filthy, nocturnal habits.”

“Once I had figured out its routine, I then devised a most brilliant trap – if I may say so myself! Now, I know this may look like a great big mucky pile of dishes to you, but take a deeper look … ”

“You see, first I filled the sink only up to a third with water, knowing that if any cockroach fell into it, it would not be able to clamber out.”

“I then began to create an environment that simulates the cockroaches preferred natural habitat … the filthy kitchen of a lazy slob! But it was all a facade, you see! Each dirty plate, each icky item of cutlery, each leftover food glop you see stacked over here in the sink, all part of a master design with a deadly purpose. It fooled you for several days, and it fooled this poor little soul too. How could he have known that all this time, I was exploiting his genetic weaknesses? He could not! And so he has succumbed and drowned, a victim of his own greedy little innocence and millions of years of instinctive behavioral programming … bloated and immersed in a nutrient rich broth which ne’ermore shall nourish it’s little soul.”

“And, best of all, this trapping method is completely environmentally safe … no dangerous chemicals or poisons were used. Since you’ve been gone, I have used this exact same pest control procedure to catch half a dozen other little blighters like him!”

When I finished explaining the madness behind my method, I saw that Corporate Babe was looking “cocky eyed” at me, wondering whether to believe any of the “cockymamie” story she had just been spun.

Whether she believed me or not, I don’t recall what she said next to me, because my “hunter mind” had already become fully preoccupied with the next great househusband challenge … tackling the weevil infestastion festering inside our food pantry.

The Lazy Househusband

No responses yet

Apr 26 2008

Adventures Of The Lone Househusband – A Spaghetti Western

Published by 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

4 responses so far

Next »