I am slowly getting the idea why my husband was so keen on the move to South Africa – he is looking for kudos in the husband and father stakes. Every time I talk to people (usually women) – particularly locals about his contribution at home, they all say to me – Oh a South African man would never do that. I can’t tell if this is a good thing or a bad thing – but I am going with good.
He often says that I spend all my time trashing him to my friends and they all think badly of him because of my influence but I can assure him this is just not the case – and I will say so publicly here and now. See – here!! (Of course any right to future trashing is a given so not saying its never going to happen)
Moving countries along with everything else also actually stress tests your relationship with your ‘life partner’ (as we say in our house). Firstly because you don’t have any friends – so no-one to talk to except each other, and when you are the stay at home one and the only other conversation is with smalls and deals with what they will and won’t eat, what they will and won’t do, if a song is actually called ‘Fishing for Cheeses’ (I suspect the title has something to do with Jesus but Miss 3 won’t have a bar of that) and extensive discussions of who is your favourite Mario Party character (Princess Peach for me) – its nice to talk to another adult. So when they are around the conversation really does flow, or you chase your ‘just got home and a bit tired from a long day at work’ husband around the house with tidbits from your day and seeking information about his.
In his case he is also trying to deal with a new job and all the issues that go with that –but try not to rub that in too much, as he knows that’s what I would prefer to be doing too. I on the other hand am attempting to master the immediate area, hardware stores, dry cleaners, telephone connections, pool maintenance, which supermarkets stock what items (beginning to think there are no countries left where everything can be purchased in one spot), school runs, playdates, my golf swing and planning an exciting new destination for our Sunday family ‘day trips’. I can tell you – if I were the one coming home from work I would probably not wanting to be discussing too many of those items – but every day even when he is traveling we have a mini ‘how was your day’ section where he empathises with my frustrations I’m sure in a way that isn’t that different to all other couples in the world. Only for the first couple of months – we were the only people we had to talk to about anything and everything – usually in other places you would have let off some steam by covering some items during the day with other friends and maybe at work –anyway it can be all a bit full on and isn’t always calm and entirely friendly but we get there in the end.
So that’s just the same as everyone else – right? So there must be other things he does to make him a bit of a stand out – have I mentioned that school starts at 7.30am? That means that lunch boxes either have to be done the night before or mighty early in the morning. Every morning at 5.30 he gets up and makes the kids lunches – and bless him, every day he calls to see what they have eaten and what they have left and talks to them about why they didn’t eat something and adjusts accordingly. He cares about their lunches! Me, not so much – but I am more than happy for him to do so. Although when he is away it’s a bit of a nightmare that I have to do them myself – OK there are only two but my kids don’t like the same food and its nearly as hard as deciding what is for dinner every day – I prefer only one meal decision a day.
After he makes their lunch, he gets them up and dressed, feeds them breakfast and generally gives them their vitamins (depends on how we are going for time) then I am required to get up – about 6.30am so he can shower and get out the door, but all I generally need to do is get dressed myself, put their bags in the car, shoes on (that can take up to 15 minutes of running around and I can’t imagine how much more when we get into winter and tying shoelaces) and get them in the car by 7.10am.
What a morning champion he is… I agree, he even offered to do a few school runs for me after he did one and found that I wasn’t lying about all the yummy mummies in their gym gear and perky breasts (he wants to run a survey to find the best surgeon just in case I change my mind) at the school drop off, but yet to follow through on that one.
If there is one thing I can’t stand more than doing the same puzzle 65 times or having to force feed my son pineapple (the only fruit he will knowingly eat) after the most wonderful and calm (NOT) homework session before he can do ‘anything at all fun’ after school its dinner (don’t mind cooking it – can’t stand the ‘not eating’ it process) and bath / shower time (enjoy it finishing as it means bed time is very close). Unfortunately my wonderful morning husband is not too often home for this part of the day – likely the reason for his morning participation. However when he is home – he does take the bath and shower time on (we have alternating days as one prefers bath and one shower – of course!). What a legend! The screams and squeals are all carried on upstairs and if I go into the study and shut the door I can’t hear them at all – its totally blissful!!!
So overall – he is pretty well housetrained for an Australian husband, and I gather slightly over trained for the South African version – remembering that neither of us has actually really had to do any of this for the last six years as the wonderful Gina was lunch maker and bather extraordinaire – so it may be that it’s a novelty for him at the moment, but I don’t think so – well I’m not going to start doing it anytime soon anyway so he’s going to have to stick with it.
Don’t get me wrong – he doesn’t love washing up, tidying up – still leaves his tie every night on a dining room chair when he takes it off, calls me and my friends ‘the slappers’ and can shut the door of the playroom and ignore the kids if there is essential sport on the television BUT he does deserve plenty of recognition for what he does do – so here it is! In fact right now he is at the gym and took the kids with him – their first experience of the playroom there – long may it last. Good work Swart. Of course he never reads this so he will never know – but I know !