When Mum Goes Away: My Week As A Solo Dad
Recently my husband gave me a leave pass to travel to Indonesia for a week to work with an organisation that I support in North West Bali (read about my journey here or watch the video here). I’d been considering hitting him up for a while but figured he’d probably say ‘yeah…nah’. It was Easter time, around four months after my Mum passed away and a shop assistant innocently asked me if I had a loyalty card or if my Mum had one and did I want to give her the points, when I fell in an exhausted heap and found myself at the start of a very intense grieving period. A week or so later I asked Matty if he’d consider taking a week off work to look after our two daughters while I went to Indonesia to spend some time with the KyArdi Project and he immediately said ‘yes, that’s a great idea’. Husband of the year award right there!
Matty is a very hands-on, doting Father and is more than capable of being a primary carer, or a ‘single parent bringing up two troubled girls and a troubled Beagle just trying to make ends meet’ as he preferred to constantly remind me! I knew he’d never let me forget my ‘holiday’ as he called it and a month after returning, he still likes to drop it in to conversation every now and then. So, I thought I’d interview him on his life as a solo Dad and let him have his final say about it!
Why did you agree to me going to Indonesia by myself for a week?
I know that you’ve felt like you really lost yourself after Aidee (our eldest daughter) was born and have spent the last 5 years looking after the kids. You always wanted to do community development work when we met so I knew how much this trip would mean to you. And you were grieving Rainy and were exhausted so needed a break.
What were you expecting your week as a single Dad to be like?
I thought it would be a walk in the park! I was really looking forward to spending some fun times with the girls and thought that I would just need to be super organised and it would be fine.
What was it really like?
Well, there wasn’t as many fun times as I thought! And it turns out that being super organised means that you don’t stop, rest or sleep…you only have time to breathe! When I did sleep, Macie didn’t. The mornings that the girls went to kinder and daycare were hectic but the nights before were busy trying to get everything prepared so I could go to work. I was lucky that Aidee could help with Macie, but I did get their clothes mixed up a few times and one day thought that Aidee was just wearing ¾ pants! I’d tell the girls ‘your Mum has left us so get used to Dad’s way, it’s the only way now’!
On the Sunday that you left I did a big cook up of pumpkin soup and spaghetti bolognaise to feed the girls healthy and nutritious meals like you do. By the end of the week we found ourselves at the pub and pizza shop and I even took them out for breakfast one morning, so the staff could clean up the mess. Although for some reason they wouldn’t wash the girl’s clothes! Speaking of clothes, I was always washing clothes, hanging clothes out, taking clothes off the line, folding clothes and putting clothes away. It never ended.
Yep, welcome to my life.
To be honest, it’s actually easier and more productive to go to work.
You certainly enjoyed laying the guilt trip on me before I left and when I was away and would call home! Oh, and when I got home too.
Yeah, I did lay it on pretty heavy, but I was just joking of course!
A couple of times I’d show the girls your photo and say, ‘this is what your Mum looked like before she left us’. Then there was that time I sent you a photo of Aidee sitting outside on the footpath at the front fence looking sad and I told you that she’d been waiting there for you to come home since you left, that was funny. And when I told you that Macie wasn’t sleeping at night and she kept waking up calling out ‘Mummy, Mummy, Mummy’, that was pretty funny too.
What are some of the more memorable moments from the week?
At dinner one night Aidee didn’t want to eat what I’d made her and my authority was challenged when she said ‘I don’t want to eat this and Mummy says I don’t have to if I don’t want to’. I told her that I was in charge and to eat her dinner and she replied, ‘well before Mummy left she said I was in charge. Can I have your phone, I want to ring her’. I said no and asked her why and she said, ‘Mummy said that I can talk to her whenever I like’. Being the mature adult I am, I said ‘no, ner nerny ner ner’!
What advice can you give to other Dad’s who will hopefully encourage their partners to take a break from their Mum duties?
Talk her out of it. Tell her she’s doing a great job and that you could never do it as well as her, hopefully that will win you some brownie points. Seriously though, Mum’s need time out. You’ve always needed time to yourself and I knew that but now I really understand that Mum’s need a proper break. So, let your partner go away and have some time out from being a Mum. But remember…a week is long enough!
Well there you have it, Mr ‘it’s-going-to-be-a-walk-in-the-park’ found his week at home more difficult than he expected. Who would have thought?! In my opinion, being a Mum really is a tough job and sometimes downright soul-destroying. My week away really was incredible. I was so busy and happy that I didn’t feel as much of the horrid ‘Mummy Guilt’ that I had expected, even when the bus driver taking me back to my car upon returning home gave me a hard time about leaving my kids!
I strongly encourage all Mum’s to take some time out for themselves, even if it’s only a couple of nights away, to relax and rejuvenate. To the Dad’s reading this, make it happen. Forget the flowers and chocolates, spoil your partner on her birthday or Mother’s Day with a Mumcation. Trust me, it will be beneficial for the whole family.
On an end note, it’s probably worth mentioning that as I write this, the hubby and I are off on a road trip to Mount Gambier sans-kids for a weekend of exploring gardens and caves. Hopefully that will be the last I hear about my ‘holiday’…probably not though!
Ali – Get Your Roam On