There have been a handful of occasions since Lucas was born when Betsy has gotten sick and needed to take several days to rest and recover. We are really lucky to have all of my immediate family living within a 15 mile radius and we have been blessed with great friends who also live close by. We are extremely grateful for all of them and their willingness to pitch in and help look after Lucas when Betsy can’t (or shouldn’t).
Sometimes, however, the responsibility falls to me. I am thankful that, for the most part, I have a very flexible work schedule. I can stay home in the morning and work from home in the evening if Betsy needs a few extra hours of sleep. I get a lot of vacation days that I can use liberally. My boss is very understanding of Betsy’s health situation and both allows and encourages me to put my family first. Not everyone has that freedom.
So at the beginning of the month when Betsy got sick, I ended up taking off a Thursday, Friday, and Monday. It’s not easy taking over as the primary care giver for a three year old. Lucas and Betsy have their routines and places that they go and things that they do. I don’t always know how to play “the right way”. I think I do an okay job overall, though. I really do have a ton of fun when I spend the day with Lucas. He’s a laugh! But he is also pretty full on. FULL. ON. I am completely decimated at the end of a day of trying to wrangle that little round ball of toddler energy.
One of the days I was on the clock, I had to stop by the facility where the soccer teams that I coach train and play. After I was done in the office I took Lucas out on to one of the empty fields and messed around for a couple of hours. And when I say messed around, I mean we ran up and down the field, which is a good 70 yards, chasing and kicking Lucas’s green soccer ball and then tumbling to the ground as he imitated the big kids he sees when he comes to watch my games.
Another afternoon we went to Jungle Java, an establishment which offers an indoor jungle gym for the kids and the caffeinated nectar of the Java bean for the parents (much to Betsy’s chagrin, I’ve never picked up the coffee drinking habit). Jungle Java has become one of Lucas’s favorite places in town. Lucas is still not quite big enough to manage all of the ups and downs. He went in all by himself once and got stuck and since then I’ve had to follow him up to make sure he can traverse all the obstacles. There is a lot of squatting and climbing and hoisting and army crawling involved in an afternoon at Jungle Java.
On the Monday, a refreshingly warm day, we drove down to the Toledo Zoo which is another of Lucas’s favorite destinations. It’s a very walkable zoo. If you happen to be there with someone likes to walk, that is. Lucas, however, prefers to run from one exhibit to the next. And when he’s not running he’s usually riding perched up on my shoulders. It is definitely a work out!
Sometimes I get home from work and Betsy looks like she’s ready to pass out. Even on days when they don’t have special events, there is still non-stop action. Apart from our outings, Lucas subjected me to an inordinate amount of good old rough-housing: incessant jumping and wrestling and tickling and laughing. Oh and Lucas loves to run laps around the dining room table. Did I mention that?
It’s good for me to spend a day (or two!) in Betsy’s shoes because it reminds me of what a big task she has on her hands on a daily basis. How my mother did it with four or how my mother-in-law did it with six or how my sister does it with three, I’ll never know. My guess is that there must have been a secret bottle of whiskey stashed away somewhere.
So if you are a mother or a father (this is 2015 after all!) that stays home with your young children – I salute you! And to my lovely wife who chases after our own stampeding toddler day in and day out – you are my hero!