Monday, December 21, 2009

A little family history

I thought it might be important to lay some historical ground work for those not familiar with my situation. I used to be an employee for a large market hospital here in Dallas until about one year ago. My wife was a stay at home mom who worked as a physical therapist on the weekend. Our kids were seven and four and to make things more complicated, we were homeschooling the seven year old. Prior to being a stay at home mom, my wife worked full-time and we were the prototypical north Dallas D.I.N.K.'s (dual income, no kids). Once our first kid came along we used to joke about what we did with all the spare time we used to have. When the second kid came along we joked about what we did with all the extra time we used to have when all we had was the one kid.

After a couple of years, my wife started feeling her brain was turning to mush; her quote, not mine. I, of course, not knowing any better just thought it was a joke and continued to go to the hospital everyday. Then she started talking about how nice it would be to have adult conversations that didn't involve diapers or school or Dr. Seuss. Again, I thought that was a funny joke and continued to go into work everyday. I guess, it finally got to the point where it wasn't funny anymore to her and I began to see that those little comments throughout the years were little cries for help. After some discussion and prayer, we decided that it would be in the family's best interest for my wife to resume her full-time physical therapy career. However, this created a singular problem...what were we to do with the kids?

Our oldest was in first grade and our youngest was due to start kindergarten the next year. Someone had to be home full-time to take care of the kids and attend to their education. We couldn't simply turn them over to the grandparents and we felt strongly about not sending them to a daycare type of facility. Luckily, we both are in health care and so can have some flexibility with our schedules. I, however, was a department manager which did place some limitations on what days I could work. So one day I went to my director and told him about my situation. He was very understanding and said he would work with me. Within weeks I was working as a part-time manager, two days a week. My wife was working a full-time 40 hour work week which included every weekend. We enrolled our oldest into a university style private school that met two days a week (like in college) where he would get all the teaching and then I would be home the remaining days of the week to help him with his homework and follow up on anything he may have missed during his "school" days.

So, our schedule consisted of my wife being off on the school days, which I worked. And I would be off on the home days, which my wife worked (including weekends). We did this for about eight months before my wife's employer offered her benefits with the hours. This enabled me to quit my job in July to get the kids ready for the coming school year. I think my director was relieved to have the opportunity to fill my position with a full time employee.

So that is how we got where we are. This is a little unconventional, but it works for us. A local sports radio station, 1310 The Ticket, has an afternoon crew that jokes about how stay at home moms have the easiest job in America. They would remark about how they watch Dr. Phil and Oprah all day, while the kids are playing outside or napping or whatever. Well, I've got news for them. This is freaking hard work! The monotony gets, well, monotonous. There is laundry to do every couple of days, meals to prepare, a house that needs constant picking up, then there's the kids' homework (like: 6+5=_? or color the Pacific Ocean blue), grocery shopping, a myriad of errands to run, and the list goes on and on.

Luckily, I have two pretty terrific kids. Let me tell you, that makes all the difference in the world. Sure they have their moments and sure I still lose my patience, although I am getting better in that area. But trust me, I know it could be much worse.

So there you go. A little history for all you out there who might be listening. Oh, and just one little joke I would like to leave you with... "It's funny, but I feel like my brain is turning to mush:)".

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