October 28, 2015 by Dadinator
“Is it Friday?”
“No, wait it’s Thursday….”
“Oh. So is tomorrow Saturday?”
“No, tomorrow is Friday.”
“NO IT’S NOT”
“Sorry Lad, I made a mistake….”
“NO IT’S FRIDAY!”
“Sorry… I can’t change the day….”
“Is today a work day?”
“But I want you to stay home.”
I crumple and sigh.
There are days when leaving for work is smooth and easy. Happy children give me a kiss and a cuddle as I say goodbye, and off I go with waves, Truman Show style smiles and I’m out the door. There are days with cries and screams as the pair of them beg me to stay home with all their will and all their volume. There are tears, shouting and despair. Sometimes it even comes from the kids.
There are days when the kids, so enthralled in their own worlds, don’t seem to notice I’m gone. When I sidle out, not wanting to interrupt their games or their stories. I look at them one last time before I go and smile a resigned sort of smile, knowing that I’ll never know what came next on this particular adventure the pair have gone on.
There are days when the kids are barely phased. When I pull them towards me, or lightly kiss them on the head, say “bye”, wait for a response and then give up and trudge towards the car.
And while there are days when I give a sigh of relief as I leave a tornado of noise and chaos behind me, there is never a day when I don’t miss them.
I started working full-time again last term. I’d spent a lengthy period working relief teaching and doing short-term contracts and part-time roles. It’s common fare for government school teachers across the nation, and certainly in this area, and it has made for a rough couple of years, financially speaking. I was on welfare for a while in order to ensure we still had some money during the school holidays when no wage was coming in. We had to have our mortgage payments reduced for a few months, the bank let us do it because we asked for help rather than waiting for problems to get too big to handle. We’ve got credit card bills that need our attention, and neither car has been serviced in far too long.
But we’ve gotten there. Somehow we’ve weathered it, and hopefully the worst is past.
But I miss aspects of it. I miss being able to say no to work to spend a day with the family, to take the kids somewhere so The Mamanator could catch up on sleep. I miss those days with my children, those days when I could be a father, and nothing else. Yet when I was in the thick of it all I could think of was providing, and how I was failing to do it. How I was letting down everyone I loved. The stress, the angst and the fear of destitution ate away constantly at both me and The Mamanator.
And now it’s morning dashes, saying goodbye for 10 hours a day and knowing that while I’m away my kids will keep on growing, keep on learning and keep on exploring while I’m not there. In some ways it feels like a lose/lose situation.
Especially on those mornings with tears, because I feel like crying too. I don’t know if there’s such a thing as balance. Or if there is I’m certain it’s not a permanent state. It’s more of a pros and cons balance sheet for which you need the ability to accept certain inevitabilities (bills…) in life and the perspective to understand what is important, and how lucky you are.
It is important to have a roof over your head. It’s important to eat and to provide opportunities. It’s also important to leave work at work, to come home as quickly as possible and to treasure those weekends so you can suck every last second out of them to the last drop.
And I am lucky. Really I am. I have a wonderful family, 2 children I adore and the love, friendship and companionship of the most amazing woman I know. We have a house in the country, and the peach tree is setting fruit. I have a job I love, teaching i special education. I get school holidays at home, time with the kids.
And in those moments when your being yelled at while still in bed, when tears flow or when children bang at the back door imploring you not to go it pays to remember the ways you are, in fact, lucky.
Lucky just doesn’t mean easy.