My wife was reading the other day that women are getting the raw end of the deal if they stay at home with the kids because the kids begin to see her as the disciplinarian and all round grumpy one. But dad is the hero. Mums are too busy to play with the kids non stop for hours because they are doing selfish things like washing, cleaning, ironing, shopping and apparently reading a book only 46 times isn’t enough. Before you know it, it’s dinner time and the real war begins.
But then, out of the madness of the dining room the kids hear a sound. It’s a key sliding into lock and turning to release the bolt. “Daddy!” they both cheer with delight, deep down thinking, “Thank Christ you’re home, mummy really has been annoying today not giving me everything that I want. Now get on your knees and let me ride you round the room 50 times!”
Having taken a deep breath you manage to find some energy from deep within to tear open your suit and uncover your SuperDad outfit. The keys get dropped where you are, your coat only makes it as far as the stairs and the kids get down from the table before they’ve finished their dinner, despite mummy telling them not to and they run up and give you the biggest hug in the world ever!
Mummy smiles and says welcome home, but really she’s thinking, “Bastard!” and starts to pick up your stuff. The routine that mummy has been trying to enforce all day ruined in one quick horsey ride, or squeezey cuddle and you don’t care because the kids are loving you rather than screaming at you.
It’s this time of day when my wife loves me least. But increasingly as I’ve tried to learn how to relax more and take things in my stride, my wife maintains the balance by becoming more and more uptight and increasingly snappy with the kids. It begins in the morning when the youngest wakes up and mummy goes to get him, “Daddy?” he says refusing to be picked up by his mummy. The daughter gets home from school, “What did you do today, sweety?” her mother asks. “Nothing, can’t remember.” When daddy comes home, “What did you do at school today, sweety?” an hour later she is still describing in great detail all of the things that she loved about her day. Bed time, “I want daddy to put me to bed.” “Daddy can you read me a story?” “I don’t want to play with you mummy, I want to play with daddy.”
But what can I do? What are the consequences of being there for your children when they want you to be? What is the issue with being known as the fun one? I don’t know, but I’m sure every time my wife squeezes that feeling of resentment and anger deep, deep down into her little box of emotions, it can only shorten the amount of time before I find out.