I had my first ‘sick child’ experience as a stay at home dad last week. I had had a good run up until then.
The little man woke up Wednesday and was a lot quieter than usual, not his boisterous self, jumping from couch to couch and pulling out the cushions. He had a virus. He had runny nappies, was off food- sooo unlike him, and was vomiting. One day included 5 changes of clothes, 3 of those within about an hour at the end of day, where I just left him clothes less on a blanket on the couch until it was bath time. This went on for 2 days. On the Thursday I was still wary of taking him outside and after 2 days of being in lockdown he was starting to go proper stir crazy. Wrestling anyone that was within reach during ad breaks of the cartoons, throwing mattresses and toys everywhere. Then he would go into periods of sitting there like a zombie, still not feeling quite right. This pretty much went on all afternoon and had me on my toes especially when not in the room with him and Ori, whilst preparing food and sorting clothes. I was looking at the door when I knew Ewelina would be coming home from work, probably looking like a broken man who had definitely had enough of this mental and emotional battering. I hadn’t signed up for this, must have been in the fine print.
By Thursday night it appeared he had come good again, or pretty close again and was looking for food, walking into the kitchen pointing to the cupboards and fridge.
Friday was my turn. Midnight I awoke with a pain in my stomach and was restless. I could not fall asleep again. I remained this way until 9am. Tanami had passed his virus onto me, bugger. I had several trips to the bathroom. At 4am I even had to run the shower where I proceeded to vomit all in the shower so badly that the drain had clogged, before having to jump on the toilet again. I was in a proper state.
In the morning I had to ask Ewelina not to go to work so she could stay at home and look after the kids. This was such a strange feeling having to ask my partner not to go to work, because I was too sick to look after the kids, which was my primary role. I had stayed at home previously when I was a footballer because I was sick, no problems. I had stayed at home several times when she was sick, to look after the kids, no problems. But to be reliant on someone to look after the kids, and to ask the ‘bread winner’ not to go to work because you are feeling incapable due to your sickness, was, well, weird. I felt so needing and dependent. This combined with earlier in the week having to ask her to transfer some money into my account to pay for rent, was a tad overwhelming. It was interesting putting myself in someone else’s shoes.
It was hard enough with the both of us and not having a support network all the way over in the North of England, with no days off. Kids with you 24/7. There simply is no escaping. And I mean escaping, I think escaping sums it up perfectly.
As we sat there later in the day after I woke up at 2 or 3, we talked about what it must have been like for single parents in this situation who found themselves without any family or friends around that they could rely on. I had always considered how much harder it would be for a single parent, especially with twins or 3 or more kids, I had tipped my hat to them. A support network was crucial and would definitely make it easier. But we genuinely started to ask what someone in this situation who was feeling so crook that they were barely able to get out of bed would do? If they didn’t have a support network they could rely on…. To you who find yourself in this situation, I take a bow. I genuinely don’t know what I would have done had Ewelina not been able to stay home from work. I was still feeling that bad I still couldn’t go to work Saturday. This was no man flu I can tell you!
It was only on Sunday that we realised it was Fathers Day back in Australia. How ironic that I had been through this episode with it being Fathers day back home in Oz. Happy fathers day to all fathers. To all the single fathers especially, and single mothers playing both roles, I take my hat off to you. This gig is hard enough being a stay at home with 2 kids, I can’t imagine how it must be without a partners support. As I sincerely needed mine.
I hope Sunday was a good day for you wherever you were and however you spent it with your little angels and demons.
To all the fathers (and mothers, although it does seem to be overwhelmingly fathers) who unfortunately aren’t given access to the kids they so desperately want to see, keep fighting the good fight. It will be worth it.