Life must be a breeze outside paid employment, thought Mike Cook, but he discovered that he had only changed bosses…
“It’s all right for you, you don’t know what it’s like…” I remember those words well, usually said in anger by the both of us at different times, when the stress became too much and the other partner’s lifestyle looked very appealing.
Well, someone must have been listening because things were about to change.
At the time, our son was two years old, and I was in a very full time job. You know the story – you go to work and when you return your children are grown up and you missed out on all the good stuff.
So the firm that I worked for decided they didn’t want me anymore and it’s nice to see their shares are still dropping. This was a good opportunity for a change so we loaded up the truck and moved to Christchurch both looking for work, a house and a more balanced lifestyle, if possible!
Sabine, my wife and mother of Dominic, our son, was actively seeking work.
At the same time I was secretly hoping she would find it, so I could fulfill my dream to be a bigger part in my son’s life and enjoy all those things I thought I was missing out on, like the freedom of not being tied down to a 9 to 5 routine, and all those things that your imagination thinks is happening while you are at work.
Well, my wishes came true and I began to learn how the other half lives!
The first thing I learnt was that my new boss was smaller, younger, better looking, more switched-on and far more demanding with considerably less patience than my last.
Three or four weeks went by and I admit I was a tad frazzled and wondering what had struck me. I felt that I was doing everything I could and Sabine was being really supportive, but Dominic wasn’t adjusting that well to the change.
After a day of giving him my total attention and fulfilling his every need, I would crumble when I heard the words, “I WANT MUM”.
I racked my brains (usually in the small hours) in case I was doing something wrong, something I might have forgotten or overlooked, something I could perhaps do better. I wondered why I didn’t have the same relationship they did.
God knows, I tried hard enough!
About this time I was trying to get in contact with any housedads out there; surely I wasn’t the only father who had thought up this brilliant idea and was struggling with putting it into action. After placing an ad in the local paper I received a reply from Harald, another father in a similar situation.
From that meeting a lot has happened, but most of all I have met some great people who I have remained friends with. Their support and friendship was invaluable in a time when I felt I was drowning, and it is great to have a coffee with these dads and watch the kids play together and say “remember, when…”
With this support and being able to talk to people who understand I began to realise that the problem was that I was trying too hard. Two steps back, take a deep breath, and back to the drawing board! It would be so much easier if they came with an instruction book, I thought.
Well, try again I did, not one to give up easily, and this time I was more relaxed and started to enjoy the whole thing. That’s What Is Supposed To Happen, Right?
Six years later and my son and I have built a relationship which has grown into a close bond and in that time I have learnt a lot about him, my wife, and most of all about myself. I saw my dark side and I found a caring side.
I have been reduced to tears by sadness and also by joy. I have experienced every emotion possible, but every time I look into my son’s eyes I see the reason for being, and think of how lucky I am to have this opportunity to watch my son grow up and to play an active part in his life.