Is an Occasional Massage Too Much to Ask For?

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At around 5pm regular as clockwork Monday to Friday, both myself and The Boy start to count down to Mum’s grand return. Max will sink deep into a trance-like state repeating the mantra ”Mummy, Mummy, Mummy” over and over again, ungrateful little so and so. I begin checking my watch, initially with a casual glance but soon building up to something more desperate with frenzied looks every two minutes. Max looks forward to a hug, a kiss and a cuddle and I look forward to throwing Max at Mrs Under, slumping into the sofa and closing my eyes for five minutes or as long as I can get away with.

Mrs Under must feel very special indeed with both her boys barely able contain their excitement on seeing her. As a stay at home parent I seem to pace my day to Mrs Under’s return, giving all the energy and love I can muster up until I can take off my attentive father hat and put on my lazy husband hat. The worst phone call I can receive is Mrs Under calling at 5:30pm to say that she has to work late – “but Mrs Under” I begin to remonstrate “I have spent nearly all my energy and love in anticipation of you walking through the door any minute now, I couldn’t possibly love and care for another whole hour!” Turns out I normally can, but it’s begrudging, through gritted teeth, slightly forced, feeling ripped off love.

This is normally the perfect opportunity for Mrs Under to remind me of the phone calls she used to receive from me when she stayed at home. I was not pleading my case to work late; I was issuing my right to go for a well earned post work beer. “Mrs Under” I would say in a slightly patronising voice “I have had a very tough day in the office doing whatever it is that I do. You on the other hand have had a blissfully relaxing day with Max, no doubt cafes, shopping and parks all played a prominent part”. I even once had the audacity to suggest that I should be allowed five minutes when I got back from work just to gather my thoughts before I had to engage in any fatherly duties.

I think it took all of one day in full charge of the Max situation for me to reform my ways, give Mrs Under a big kiss, make my apologies and realise what most men don’t ever get to realise – being a stay at home parent is damned hard work!  Of course I helped out but perhaps I could have helped out more. Of course I was sympathetic but not sympathetic enough. Of course I tried to empathise but I could have empathised further.

Being able to share Max’s upbringing has not only led to a deeper bond with The Boy it has also fostered a profound understanding for what Mrs Under went through and has cemented us as a couple. We have a mutual understanding and respect for what each other does. I understand what it’s like to close the door on a child that desperately does not want me to leave only to have to go to a job I desperately don’t want to go to. Mrs Under understands that sometimes a day with Max can all be too much. We both understand that post work drinks are a rare treat issued at the discretion of the other, rather than a right.

So a message to all the men and women out there who have not been fortunate to ride the stay at home journey, a little more empathy, a little more sympathy and a little more help would go a long way. And for goodness sake is an occasional massage too much to ask for?

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  • http://coloursofsunset.wordpress.com coloursofsunset

    To be fair to both parents, neither job is particularly easy – staying home, or leaving your child and partner all day to deal with office stress, then to come home and deal with home stress if the parent at home has had a hard day. Parenting is just flat out hard and stressful, but it’s also interspersed with all these amazing amazing moments that make all the rest disappear (however briefly). I think it’s great you’ve both been able to spend time as the stay at home parent.

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      I am all about being fair to both parents, its hard gig for one and all (but a bloody brilliant one)

  • http://www.myjourney20-me.blogspot.com Me

    LOL – I don’t know if either of us can identify with SAHM/D – K was 4 weeks old when I went back to work – A was at home for the first 2 weeks. I then had 2 weeks on my own before I went back to work. I was always quite glad to go to work in the mornings – except on the days when it was cold and raining and then it would have been nice to stay at home. Work colleagues were a lot less hard work than a baby/toddler !!!
    It does get easier and it won’t be long before you can both go for drinks after work ‘cos he will be all grown up !!
    Have the best day !
    Me

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      I suppose there’s more to life than after work drinks ; )

  • http://www.handmadetearsandtriumphs.com Kelly HTandT

    Divine timing Matt. Not only because I posted about the lack of massages in our house last week (or more specifically, what a massage earns), but also because I’m soon to return to work and hubby has taken holidays to wrangle the children for a short time. I’ll have to make sure he reads this post when he walks in the door this afternoon and I sneak off to the hairdresser because all of this hard work entitles me to a treat dammit! *Yawns* a nap wouldn’t go astray either.

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      Feel free to use this post against your hubby Kelly. Hope you come back from the hairdressers with ahot new look.

  • http://iliska-dreams.blogspot.com.au/ Julie

    Massage? I would be happy with five minutes of me time.

    http://iliska-dreams.blogspot.com.au/

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      Aim high Julie ; )

  • Wendy

    Great post :-) have shared on crackbook so hope hubby will read :-)

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      Good to drop a subtle hint here and there Wendy ; )

  • http://itsacircusinhere.wordpress.com/ Jessi

    I get to have a trip to the hair dressers for the first time in 1.5 years in 2 weeks and I have not counted down anything like this since my last pregnancy was days passed being complete (by the dates,not by the boys decision).
    I just posted about needed to stop using my kids and being tired as a crutch to not get fit!!!I like how you feel just like us mums who are at home.It is really the same for dads and mums who are home full time!

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      I do what you mums do, i think like you, I basically am one of you! Enjoy the haircut Jessi, sounds like a well earnt one.

  • http://www.twice-as-nice.blogspot.com.au Suzie Harris

    Hi Matt, I’ve discovered you through Kevin. Loved this post and I’m loving hearing a Dad express is opinions on all these typically Mummy subjects.. We live in the country 2 hours from Sydney and my husband stays away 2-3 nights a week so when he returns home you can imagine the love (from 4 kiddies) that runs towards him as soon as the front door opens. I am always so jealous of the love he receives and then I feel like crap because all I want to do is walk the door after he has walked in it!! Thanks for a great read. Suzie.

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      Hey Suzie, I know how you feel (and so does my wife), we have both been on the receiving end of the love. Glad you found us and enjoyed the post, Kev’s is great read.

  • http://illiterateinfant.wordpress.com Kevin

    Well done mate. Its a reminder of how both halves of the parent team have pros and cons. Hope you don’t mind me pretending to have come up with this well though out perspective by myself next time I talk to my wife.

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      Cheers Kev, use it and abuse it mate ; )

  • http://pressiesbypebbles.wordpress.com pressiesbypebbles

    Great post. I definitely appreciate my husbands job is very very hard but luckily he also appreciates me and mine being a SAHM – however I’m going to start talking about the much needed massage now and hope he realises how important it is for me :)

  • http://www.kyliepurtell.com Kylez @ A Study in Contradictions

    Too true! Your description of clock-watching is spot on! I must say, while Dave doesn’t fully understand what it’s like to be at home with a baby or toddler all day, he is always more that happy to come home and scoop Mia up and start playing and doing dad duties from the minute he walks in the door (after first getting changed of course!) and I am eternally grateful. I think it helps that he goes to the gym every day after work, so he has at least an hour or more to work out any stress from work and he is starting to realise that getting to the gym everyday really is a little luxury that most people don’t get and I think it makes him happier when he gets home so I don’t complain (much!).

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      Sounds like everyones happy Kylez, perfect!

  • http://www.desireempire.com Desire Empire

    Love hearing your thoughts. They are the same as mine. Funny to hear it from a guy though. When I went into hospital to have my second, my husband said that my jobs only took 5 minutes. It hurt me very much. Although all the laundry was up to date, the house clean, the fridge stocked up with ready meals and frozen school lunches and the after school care was organised, so he hardly had to think at all, I am sure what little he was left to do, took more than 5 minutes.

    Some times it is hard to keep going when there is no appreciation. Luckily your wife has been there too. But it’s like going to war. You will never understand until you have been in the trenches.
    Carolyn
    PS Shared this post to Face Book. Stopping by from Essentially Jess.

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      Thanks Carolyn, I’m really glad you liked it. Must be tough not getting the full support of your loved one, there are plenty of others happy to stick the boot in on the SAH without the need for any friendly fire.

  • http://twitter.com/mummy__issues Lee Alexander (@mummy__issues)

    Here, here to the massage! I solo parent for weeks at a time and I can not tell you how much joy it gives me when the kids will not leave my partner alone for like three seconds for days after he gets back!

  • EssentiallyJess

    You’re a good lad aren’t you? I happen to be married to a wonderful guy myself, who does understand it’s hard, but also always seems to want a massage….

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      And your a good lass Jess. I suppose I can always finding an excuse for a massage

  • http://melbournedad.blogspot.com.au/ Vic @ The Melbourne Dad

    What a fantastic post, it’s taken me too long to fully appreciate how full on it is to be a full time carer to a baby/toddler (disclosure: I’m a full time working parent). Entertaining an attention-seeking little one who has the speed of a greyhound, the curiosity of an explorer, the energy of a fusion reactor, and the attention span of a goldfish, is not easy! I only get to appreciate how exhausting it is when I help out on weekends, or on weeknights if I manage to get home early.

    I think the difficulty level of being a full time carer, a full time working parent, or a hybrid of both depends on the temperament of the child and the nature of the job. Some people might have it easier than others – e.g. a child with a relaxed personality who is quiet and sleeps great … or a person with a 9am – 5pm job who can switch on to parent mode as soon as they leave their workplace.

    Spare a thought for the full time working parent who tries to be supportive as well, as they try to straddle both. When I’m in my home city (I work long hours and travel a lot), my weekday routine usually involves dropping everything at work to get home in time for Bub’s bath and story time, then pop downstairs to clean up Bub’s mess (and to think any of this food actually lands into her mouth?!), grab a quick bite to eat, have a chat to the missus, then log online to continue working late into the night. I sacrifice sleep to get some personal time in, blogging is one of my outlets too. I substitute sleep with copious amounts of caffeine.

    The rewards of work-related intellectual stimulation/challenge doesn’t even come close to beating a smile from my child that says “I love you”…. and SAHD/M’s are lucky enough to get lots more of this, and the long term payoff that you’ll have is a stronger bond with your child. But I guess the other side of the fence always seems greener. Your advice on the massage is noted – we’re flying to NZ this weekend, and I’ve volunteered to stop Bub wreaking havoc in the Qantas First Lounge whilst my wife gets a massage in their day spa.

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      Your a good man Vic, huge bonus points coming your way for the massage gesture!

  • http://mj-brightsideup.blogspot.com.au Melissa @ Bright Side up

    As the “go to work” parent, whom has preformed the stay at home duties, I have also seen both sides of the coin. I can easily say that I am more suited to a balanced life of work and play. I have formed a very healthy respect for Single Parents as well as Stay at Home Parents of large families. I think it is so healthy for both parents to have a go, and experience it first hand.
    I just had to read your post out to my dear Hubby (as he lay on the lounge, watching Swamp People) and he had a little chuckle of appreciation and said you’d pretty much nailed it. I thought so too. :)
    Now following.

    • http://daddownunder.wordpress.com daddownunder

      Thanks Melissa thats lovely, nice to get a chuckle of appreciation from a fellow dad too.

  • http://blog.notunimportant.com Cam @ notunimportant

    A great read, thanks. Really interesting to hear from you, and the comments, just how similar and how different things are under different roofs.

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