Living on an Island

Being a house husband was not unlike living on a desert island.  Looking after Small and the house was all consuming and isolating.  I became more and more introspective and self-absorbed.  There was little contact with the outside world other than to obtain essentials, and much of that was achieved via the nameless, faceless internet.

Each evening and at the weekends my wife paddled over from the mainland, acting as an umbilical link to the world beyond the waves.  That was the thing that stopped me losing myself utterly, going crazy and talking to the coconuts.

Not that there was anything wrong with life on the island.  Apart from the squawking parrot that needed constant attention, life was quiet and there was little stress, at least in the sense I defined it at work – I was not going to be sacked (although, at times, I might have welcomed it).

In fact, life on the island was pretty good and would have been perfect if it wasn’t for the fact that there was a metaphorical radio on the island that kept picking up snippets of news from the world outside.  Like most news feeds, it was all bad:

  • All of Small’s contemporaries were doing better than Small; Alan had a tooth, Amelia could say ‘dada’, Alex slept through the night and Amanda was eating solids.
  • Andrew’s parents had bought a new car.
  • Amy’s parents had a new bathroom and a new sofa.
  • Aaron’s family was going on holiday to Disney World.
  • Alysha’s parents were having an extension built.

[You may think it strange that all these names begin with ‘A’ but see Naming.]

‘So what?’ you ask.  ‘Why was that bad news?’

The problem was that from the earliest age we are bombarded from every angle with the message that material ‘things’ are what count.  We have all grown up programmed to believe that things define us.  If we haven’t got the latest, shiniest things then we are somehow failing.  Well, everybody else seemed to be able to obtain new things and we couldn’t – FAIL.

The fact that Small’s contemporaries were all doing better than him was a direct fail because I was in charge: I must have been doing something wrong.

What compounded this was the fact that my head added up the things other people were achieving and attributed the total to all of them.  In my head all the other families were achieving all of the goals for their Small and still managing to carry on living, i.e. buying all of the things.

The reality was that other families were not achieving everything: each family was achieving one of the things and that was because they had prioritised it.  They had probably given up something else to achieve it.  In most cases it was because both parents were still working, even if at least one was on reduced hours.  They had, therefore, ‘given up’ being with their Small full time.  I chose a different path and could therefore expect different scenery on my journey.

smash radioAnyway, there was little doubt that those ‘things’ had been purchased on credit.  That was a temptation I no longer had to worry about:  I didn’t have a paid job and couldn’t get credit anymore.

So, I decided to smash the radio and enjoy life on the island for a while.  Before I knew it I would be rescued – and soon wish I hadn’t been.

Not so much a parenting guide full of advice, more the reality of parenting kids and being a house husband and father, written by a stay at home dad to three children.

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