"The Muffled Cries For Help From a Daddy of Four Beautiful Little Girls"

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Survival Skills for Dads, Anyone?

If you're a dad, perhaps you enjoy coming home from work to find dinner on the table, your slippers by the recliner and spit-polished children lined up at the door to greet you, curtsying.

I find it absolutely amazing how effectively and efficiently my wife seems to manage the home day-in and day-out (though the above description is a slight exaggeration; ain't much curtsying). Sure, there are plenty of jobs for me to do when I come home, but SHE's the stay-at-home mom, so the bulk of responsibility for our well-run castle seems to rest on her shoulders...

...until some ladies' conference, or an out-of-state baby shower, or a bachelorette party involving midgets (don't ask).
On those instances when the parole board allows her outside the house, she usually leaves a list of all the things that should be done before her return:

Clean the basement.
Rearrange the junk in the garage.
Empty the dishwasher.
Have the kids put away their laundry.
Mow the lawn.
Return a video.
Buy milk.

Simple enough, right? WRONG! That's a great list for a normal weekend. That can be done on a typical day while my wife is here to take care of the kids. But multi-task? Am I expected to do these things and feed the kids and change their litter boxes?

Who do these moms think we are? It's like a pilot coming out of the cockpit and asking the stewardess to take over the controls for the remainder of the trans-Atlantic flight while he steps out to go to the grocery for the sole purpose of "seeing people over 3 feet tall for the first time in 5 days." Sure, she's been on a hundred flights, but that doesn't mean she can land the thing.

Here's the list my wife should leave for me if she was a realist:

1. Don't let the kids die.
2. Don't get blood on the carpet.
(NOT necessarily in order of importance)

And even that may be too complicated. Seriously, I wish mommies knew how stressful it is for daddies just to survive on their own without also having to worry about what tv shows are appropriate for children. (Btw, her answer in general: "none.")

But here's a trick I've employed that makes my wife cringe whenever she remembers.

One weekend while wife was gone, I knew we had to be at church on time. Getting 4 preschoolers dressed and ready is quite time-consuming and stressful if you try to squeeze it all in before church; perhaps my wife didn't realize this or she would have arranged for church to be canceled.

However, I thought it was sheer genius on my part to dress them the night before. That way when they woke up, they were already ready already. Throw 'em in their car seats with some nutritious breakfast bars, and voila! stress-free Sunday, ready in record time.

Of course, when my wife started getting the reports from concerned hens at church about my daughters' matted hair, wrinkled dresses, and missmatched footwear, she was mortified. Absolutely stricken.

But I would SO do it every week that way if I could.

I would love to hear from other daddies who have developed some tactics for surviving while mommy's gone. Or mommies, you can tell me what your men have done.

I'm going to need a lot more ideas if I'm expected to endure the next Beth Moore conference!


Liza's Eyeview said...

I came here from your wife's blog. Great blog you've got!

Tim in WA said...

In a rather silly Steve Martin movie (SGT Bilko), there is a scene where the motor pool is trying to find ways to make money. They consider opening a daycare, with the motto, "They Won't Die". I've always thought that summed up my Dad survival skills.

Last weekend my wife attended a homeschool conference for two days and two nights, leaving me to fend for myself with all five kids. I was heads-down in preparing a class for our Small Group Training seminar, and largely ignored the kids, except for the separation of combatants as it became necessary. Although the house was trashed when she got home, the kids were inordinately pleased to see her; I see that as a little gift I can give my wife, who sometimes (like all moms) feels under-appreciated.