How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love the Chaos

Wife:  I have to head back to Winnipeg for a couple of weeks.
Me:  Sure, no problem.  Here, let me help you pack the bags for the kids.
Wife:  Oh no, the kids are staying here.
Me:  hahahaa… oh, for a second there, I thought you said the kids were staying here.
Wife:  They are.
Me:  hahaha… oh, that’s funny.  Oh, wait… you’re serious?!  Me?  12 days?!  ME!?  KIDS!  12 DAYS?!

Looks cute… wait till Mom is gone!

How many of you ladies have a husband?  Lets see your hands.
Right, great.  Now, how many of your husbands are actually CAPABLE to take care of the kids… alone… without your help?
Okay, a few hands went down.  Now, how many of THOSE husbands can take care of the kids for more than 2 days?
Few more hands go down… and how many of those husbands can do it while still keeping the house clean, and the kids dressed, and bathed and fed, and to school on time and all that good stuff?
Hmmmm… interesting.  Not many hands left in the air.

Well, I did.  4 kids.  12 days.  No wife.
The kids had 3 good meals a day, all got to school on time, bathed routinely, house kept clean, I even got the kids to play dates, drama clubs, hosted a Chinese New Years party…

Yup.  I was pretty darned proud of myself.

See, totally in full control here.  :-)

Now, I know probably 98% of the readers here are women… I’m sure I’m not getting any sympathy, or “Oh wow, you did all that?!”… because I’m pretty sure this is what you guys do every day, all day, without credit*.

So, if I’m not out here looking for sympathy, where am I going with all this?  Good question.  A better question would be, how many of you still have your hands up?  And why did you guys ever raise your hand in the first place… its not like I can see you.  :-)

See, I felt confident that I could mange 12 days with no wife.  My wife however?  Well… by the 2nd day she was gone, I had strangers from some Internet Forum she is a part of emailing me to make sure I remembered to bath the kids.  I had someone else call whom I don’t know, to remind me that the kids needed to be bathed at least once a week, my neighbour came by to remind me that the kids had skating on Thursday for school and needed to bring their ice skates.  I had another neighbor driving by the house and called in to make sure everything was OK because the “… cars looked funny in the drive way, and your wife told me to check on you.”

Don’t get me wrong, there were times where my little Ping pushed me to the limit – right from the moment the door closed behind the wife Ping started fighting about everything.  Things which she has not fought over for months, all of a sudden were a problem for her.  She was back to stomping her feet, and getting angry at the slightest thing and looking for something to hit me with.  But thats not really the point I’m rambling about today… but a good one to remember: although our children may seem “ok”, they can regress at anytime because of some significant changing in their world (ie: the Mom leaving for 2 weeks).  That might be a good topic for a later post.

A fight about to start?  Thankfully, no.  6 months ago?  Probably.

What I really learned from these 12 days of Wifeless living (and surviving with passing colours) is:

  • My wife had quite happily already decided what I was and was not capable of handling (my wife had placed limitations on me)
  • Although I am *cough* *cough* years old, there are still things I’m learning to do, or at least learning to do better (I am still learning what my limitations are)
  • My wife can get people from Flordia, USA to check on me in Ontario, Canada – yet unable to get out of bed to turn off the bathroom light (she can however get ME to get out of bed to turn off the bathroom light)
  • No matter what age we are, we can grow and do things others did not think we were capable of (limitations change, can be over come, or might not have really existed)
  • I was right, my wife was wrong
  • What my wife thought about my abilities to handle the household were not important – what was important is how I did handle the household (limitations are only limitations if we choose to listen to them)
  • Sometimes, you need to be challenged to realise what you are capable of
  • If my wife isn’t here to tell me to, I can go 4 days without showering, 3 without changing clothes, 2 without eating and 1 without coffee

When we look at adoption, how many limitations are we placing on ourselves, our children, or possible children?
Do we look at our adopted child and say to ourselves that they will never be “whole”, or that they will always “suffer with attachment issues”?
Do we look at ourselves and maybe think “will I be able to truly love our adopted child?”
Do we look at a child with cleft lip and think “they will never be accepted?”

Are those valid fears/questions/concerns/limitations?  Sure.  Absolutely.  I had every right to be scared to be left alone with 4 children… they are scary.  They make strange noises.  Eat strange things.  They stay up all night, or wake up at weird times of the day!  The can bite, colour on walls (or Dads… hey, its happened!), tie you up with duct tape and leave you in the back yard for the wild animals of Canada to attack… I mean kids are scary stuff!  Anyone who tells you different, isn’t a parent.  :-)

Don’t let the cuteness fool you – they can be scary!

But I refuse to be limited by fears… because I think thats what all those questions, concerns and limitations really are – fears.  What would have happened if I was to afraid to watch the children for 12 days without the wife?  Well, my wife would have missed her fathers funeral.  And it is easy to look at a death in the family and say “suck it up for 12 days you wuss“.

But… what would have happened if I was to afraid to adopt a child with Spina Bifida?  What if I listened to that fear that said “you can’t do it“, “that child is going to have problems“, “she must have a better suited family out there somewhere“, “we can’t adopt a child that old“, “we can’t afford to adopt“, and the list goes on.  What if I listened to all my concerns and self imposed limitations?

Well, I would have missed out on one of the the single greatest experiences of my life – my beautiful daughter Ping; and she would have missed out on us**.

* Thank you, by the way.   We men and children might forget to say it, but you make everything “work”.
** If you are a regular reader on our family blog, you would know that her missing “me” might not be that big of a deal.  I’m still wearing her down.

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