OPINION: It's not easy being a solo dad. My wife left me last Wednesday morning. It was still dark out when she woke me with a tap on the shoulder and declared she was going. She was already dressed, hair done, lip gloss fixed.
She had packed in the night. It was designed this way so the goodbye was fast and clean. It certainly didn't seem long before she was pulling out of the drive, airport bound, tears streaming down her face. Lucky her lip gloss was water proof.
I didn't bother waking our daughter to say goodbye. She's only 2 and wouldn't have understood anyway. The one thing my wife and I had agreed on was it was better this way.
So I was a solo parent. I was in charge. A new hierarchy swept through the Jones' household and I had to say, things were changing for the better. My daughter didn't wake up till nine this morning. It may have been the late one she had the night before, constructing the perfect train route with her father. That was no problem with me, I adjusted my sleeping habits accordingly and rather enjoyed the lie-in.
It did mean we were late for playgroup but that's also not an issue, it just means she can make an entrance sporting her new get-up and she was quite a sight. You see, she wanted to wear her underpants outside her track pants. I fully understood, the knickers were new and who wouldn't want to show them off. That got the green light, along with not combing her hair, gumboots and sunglasses on inside. The gumboots have monkeys on them, far too cool to be kept in a cupboard. I can't explain the sunglasses thing.
I have trouble connecting with the other blokes at playgroup. They're into destroying things, putting anything smaller than a beach ball into their mouth, picking their noses and fighting. I'm just not into it so I hang with the adults, which happens to be a major gaggle of women. I've been going a few months now so they are used to me. They don't quite treat me as one of the girls but I am no longer a novelty.
They gave me a knowing look when they spotted my daughter. They can't mock me, most of the three-year-olds present are wearing the worst combinations of pink and purple imaginable. It's obvious one of the first places a parent loses control is in the bedroom right in front of the wardrobe mirror.
It's not easy being a solo dad. There are groceries to do. I had to get some tortillas for dinner and other essentials: beer, three types of potato chips and some shaving cream.
I'm also learning some valuable lessons: keeping the house warm while you're out by leaving the element on isn't efficient, it's dangerous. And here's one for your recipe book: if you leave tortillas in the oven too long, they become a sort of hybrid pompadom. I wonder if the Mexicans taught the Indians this.
The other night my wife came back to me. She cried again as she pulled back up the drive. She'd been away two days at a conference, which was momentous. It's the first time she had left her precious daughter with her robust husband. We'd all survived.
There are some advantages to solo parenting but if you have a choice I recommend don't select it as a long-term option.
If you can swing it, kids are best shared and enjoyed by two adults who like sharing the same house and may even have some sort of affection for each other. Give it a try, you never know.
Hadyn Jones is an occasional journalist and under no circumstances should be left home alone. He writes a fortnightly column.
- The Dominion Post