E&W have been with us now for (yikes!) nearly 18 months, and I've been SAHDing for six months. That neither feel that long suggests life has either been like being swept along in a raging river, or it's been a lot of fun.
“Are you still enjoying being at home with the children?” is the question I get asked most often. And it's almost always worded like that, not “How's it going?” It's like people are offering me a safety net, almost inviting me to wail “No, no I'm not, it's awful and I'm rubbish at it and whathaveIdonewithmylife?”. Which is kind of them, but unnecessary.
And I'm sure my standard answer, a typically-reserved-English-gent "Yes, it's good!", might not be entirely convincing, especially to those friends and family who had concerns about how I'd cope with becoming an SAHD/house husband (I know you're out there, and I don't mind at all that you were worried). "What's he hiding, what's he not saying?" they might wonder.
Here's what I'm not saying:
I love being a stay-at-home-dad.
It's given me a sense of purpose, a sense of my place in the world, that I've never had before. I get up every morning knowing I'm going to get to spend most of the day with our gorgeous little people, helping them explore the world. I'm extremely lucky to have been given the chance to take such a big part in E&W's early lives, and I will be forever grateful to K for giving me that chance. I know she finds it very hard to be back at work and not with them more - who wouldn't? I like to think that leaving them with me, rather than a childminder or at a nursery, makes it a little bit easier to say goodbye to them in the mornings.
Do I love every moment of it? Of course not. When food is being thrown about with apparent malevolent glee (especially when it's onto a freshly steam-mopped floor), or W is wrestling with me trying to put his trousers back on after a nappy change (and cackling at my plaintive cries of "You need to have trousers on - what if the vicar comes to tea?"), or E is incessantly squeaking with frustration at my inability to work out which toy she wants delivering to her from the far side of the room (okay, it's actually quite cute, like an angry Jawa trying - and failing - to use The Force to impel something into her splayed fingers. And of course the thing she wants is always the last thing I pick up), there is a little voice in the back of my head sneering "You didn't get this from spreadsheets and databases, did you?".
No, I didn't. From some colleagues, yes - but never from spreadsheets and databases (I'm joking. Honest).
But no matter how much I enjoyed work, how much satisfaction I got from doing a job well, it doesn't come close to how I feel at the end of a day now. Tired out, yes, but with a little warm glow deep down inside me, because I know that I've done something really special today.
I can completely understand why SAHDing isn't for everyone though. I think my brain is wired just about right for me to be a good fit for SAHDing. Thanks to all the self-help motivational books I've read over the years - a guilty pleasure - I'm quite good at seeing the bigger picture: for example, chores aren't chores, but a means to creating a pleasant, comfortable, happy home (and...relax!). I get an almost irrational sense of satisfaction from mundane little tasks like sweeping the floor or folding laundry. And I didn't feel I was giving up on - or putting on hold - a career (a good job, one in which I took immense pride, but not something that defined me). I feel that right now, this is what I'm meant to be doing.
And I've also learned a lot about myself in the last year-and-a-half. It's true that having children changes you - it unlocks things in you that you might not have known were there. I've got a little series of posts in mind for exploring this further - there's a dangling carrot for you!
I guess the take-home message from this post is this: don't worry about me; don't worry about us. Life is good - no, better than good. Life is really rather fabulous.
Please feel free to leave comments, ask questions, give feedback, or make suggestions for what you'd like to see me write about (I'll happily do requests!) below - and please share this blog with anyone you think might be interested in it. Thank you!