Christmas Letters – S

We’re half way through the Christmas Letters series now and so have reached the first of two letter S’s.

S is For Sanity

I’ve made it though this year with my sanity intact.

I think.

Actually, I have no qualifications which permit me to judge someone’s level of sanity… but I don’t FEEL insane. Does that count?

This time last year I very much feared for my sanity but another “S” – Sertraline seems to be working well with the Wellbutrin I was already taking and is keeping me fairly sane.

I’m not sleeping. I get 4-5 hours a night, which is 3-4 hours less than I need but I’m coping, at least.

S is Also For Stay-at-Home-Dad

My continued sanity is a miracle, considering I am a stay-at-home-dad.

I’ve been doing this for about five years now and I’ve gained a much greater appreciation of mothers, particularly single mothers (and for that matter, single fathers).

I generally have our three kids for about three days straight every week. My wife works nights and sleeps almost all day so I look after the kids. Food, shopping, cleaning, school runs, homework, bedtime, nightmares.. the whole shebang.

Actually, that’s not entirely accurate, my wife does a fantastic job of getting involved even on work days and does most of the baths and helping with the homework… and I am TERRIBLE at cleaning. I just can’t do it. I work at it for hours and my wife still thinks the house looks like a pig-sty.

By the afternoon of about the third day though, I’m done. I’ve had enough.

I’m tired, grouchy and at the end of my tether with the kids. I simply can’t wait for Debbie to be done with work so I can pass responsibility for the little angels on to her.

I simply don’t know how full time mothers cope.

Then when I think about SINGLE mothers and fathers… How do they do it? I can’t imagine how badly I’d implode or even explode if I didn’t have someone to hand the kids over to. They amaze me.

Being a stay-at-home Dad has some of it’s own unique problems too.

  • Sports. The sidelines of after-school sporting activities are packed with women in their 20’s and 30’s. It’s quite uncomfortable often being the only guy there. I actually feel quite vulnerable and actively try to be friendly without really building relationships with any of them and trying to ensure that I’m never alone with any of them. I’ve seen the fallout from false accusations before and don’t want to put my family at risk from that.
  • Play dates. My kids want play dates with their friends. That’s a tough one for me. I’m not having any little girls come over when I’m the only adult in the house supervising. No chance. And I already feel overwhelmed with my three kids so having any of my son’s male friends over is beyond what I think I could cope with. That makes it hard because my kids go to their friend’s houses and I find it very hard to reciprocate.
  • Support Networks. I know of several groups in town for mothers with small children. They get together and the children all play and the mothers talk and relax together. I’ve heard a few of the mothers say those groups are lifesavers for them and that they would go insane if it wasn’t for that support system. Well… what about the dads? I’ve not found any dad’s and toddlers groups and the moms don’t seem willing to let a male into their fold, even if I wanted to join in.
  • Babysitting. There are times when I need someone to watch the kids. I have sisters-in-law in town who will willingly help out but they now have several kids of their own. Whether it’s because I’m a guy or because I’m not very good with kids, I don’t feel able to reciprocate by watching their kids when they need someone, so I can’t do a bit of give and take in the child-minding area. That means I feel I have to pay for a babysitter… and I don’t have the money for that!

There are other aspects but those are some of the main difficulties I face as a stay-at-home dad.

It’s hard. But I’m still sane. We’ll see whether I can still say the same next Christmas 🙂