What Parenting Five Kids Is Like When Dad Is Away

by Joni Edelman for Ravishly
Originally Published: 

If your powers of deduction are on point, you have quickly concluded that I’m alone the days he’s away and thus parenting our five children, without benefit of a second pair of hands.

When he’s home, he offers a second pair of very appreciated and necessary hands. He gives baths. He puts people to bed. He shuttles like a bus driver. He is a master of dish washing.

And when he’s absent? It’s just me. All the time, painfully alone, exhausted, covered-in-laundry, un-showered me.

In point of fact:

While their father is home, our younger children will sleep like tiny catatonic cherubs. As soon as he leaves, sleep hell breaks loose. These are the nights my 2-year-old will decide at 2 a.m. that he wants to talk about how a car engine works, how an air conditioner works, where the moon is. It’s a little like The Shining (minus the REDRUM).

In a cruel twist of fate, we ended up with three dogs. (Actually, I’m pretty sure it’s my fault more than it is fate’s that we have a pack of dogs, but I’ll never acknowledge that I caused this misery.) The wolf pack will invariably decide that when Dad’s gone they should bark all night. That’s not enough, though. They’re polite dogs and as such, they like to extend a warm invitation to the other dogs in the neighborhood to bark with them. All of the dogs in the neighborhood. Literally ten dogs. No RSVP necessary.

The toilet will clog. It will always clog. It may clog to the point of flooding the bathroom. It’s probable. There will be some undesirable fluid for me to mop up off the floor.

Someone will get sick. And not a little sick. Feverish, moaning, grouchy, requiring-antibiotics sick. Sometimes the someone will be me. Also, there are no sick days in my office. Power through: the mantra of the stay at home mom.

All practices, activities and recitals happen when I’m alone. This involves near-constant driving for pickups and drop-offs. There is an increasing number of days when I feel like I should just move into the car.

My husband works in Silicon Valley, which is actually not unlike the HBO series. His industry is carousing by nature. There are parties, happy hours, cakes, team-building day trips. For god’s sake, there is beer in the office. Unfailingly, his fun work days are my torturous home days. This disparity might, admittedly, be all in my head, as I am literally mopping up poo water.

To be fair, there is beer in the fridge at home too. I just never have time to drink it.

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