Starting next week we officially have a kid in public school. Not only that, segundo starts preschool next week as well so two days a week from 9 AM to 11:30 AM I will not be responsible for any kids. That time off will be great but it starts me thinking about my value if I don’t have a kid to look after. I will have plenty to do but now, for this short period of time, it won’t be under the banner of also looking after the boys. I think the real problem I have with this is the expectation that Beautiful will now have for me to get more things done. I can’t say “I just didn’t have any time with the boys today” now that we both know I have at least 5 hours a week. I will have to find a way to work smarter not harder, so I can best utilize the time for myself, while still meeting the expectation of the warden.
I joke about Beautiful and her expectations but really she will admit that she is kind of terrible. She says things to me that no man would ever get away with saying to a stay at home mom. The other day when she came for lunch I was on the computer and she got frustrated, saying that when she sees me on the computer right when she gets home she just assumes thats all I’m doing all day, sitting around ignoring the kids. No this might be true some days but it was not true that day, and the idea that what I am doing in one moment representing my whole day is ludicrous. The idea that a man coming home and seeing his wife sitting on the couch, and then getting frustrated that she just sits on her ass all day starts to boil people’s blood. But this is essentially what my wife does to me every couple of weeks. She does immediately feel bad about it so it’s hard to get too upset.
Even when we have been the one at home and know the frustrations and chaos of the day we still picture hours of free time and a life of ease. Part of that is a short memory and part of that is knowing that its true at times. There are parts of the day when you don’t have anything going on, no toy dispute to mediate or counting game to play. There are times when the boys are playing together or taking a nap and I have hours of free time to do what I want. Well not what I want, I can’t leave and head to the local pub to catch a soccer game being played somewhere around the globe, but I can watch an illegal stream of that game on the couch while catching up on my reader. A good portion of my job is being available and in that availability there is some freedom to explore the space. The problem is those windows open at different times and can never be counted on. It is one of the perks of my job, the way free books while working at Wiley or cruises to Mexico when working at Softshare were perks. The perks are not the job itself so I get frustrated when it’s assumed that I sit around all day.
So I will find productive ways to fill this new found free time, but I will also take advantage of the perks of having two kids in school for a couple hours. I will take the long coffee break after dropping Segundo at preschool and then make sure that I get that compost pile sorted while I have the time. I will not feel bad for taking advantage of the benefits of being a stay at home dad, because I know there is a lot of hard work being done as well.