Growing up, men are exposed to many depictions of fatherhood. One stands out: The dream homecoming. Media portrays it as:
Husband: “Honey, I’m Home!”
Wife enters room carrying the evening paper.
Wife: “How was your day sweetheart”
Husband describes day, typically with positivity, small details may hold a slight air of negativity, but the gist of the conversation is positive.
Husband: “Is that dinner I smell? It smells delicious!”
Kids now enter the room. Usually two. The nuclear family right?
Kids: “Daddy!” Hugs all around, kids quietly run off to play.
Husband: “Were the kids good today, honey?”
Wife: “They were little angels.”
Husband will typically proceed to sit down and relax after a long day of work.
Now, the popular culture portrayal is not the same in every circumstance, but, its pretty close. Most men grow up with the dream of a wife and kids, and the perfect homecoming. That’s when reality kicks in and bites, hard.
I'm going to share my own reality of coming home. I work Monday to Friday, 8:00 AM to 4:00 PM. My wife works, but her job allows her to take the kids to work. We have two children, an almost 5 year old boy and a newly toddler girl.
Coming home is different every day.Usually in the afternoon at work, I’ll send a text message to my wife (if I’m really lucky and can spare a few minutes, I might be able to slip in a phone call). Thats the point where I will typically let my wife know that I’ll either be early, on time, or late. My wife’s response will vary depending on the time I say I’ll be home. The fun starts when I arrive home, and it can be one of the following scenarios (Note: the house is almost always clean).
I come home to an empty house. My wife has not been home at all today, and is probably by now having coffee at someone’s house. Nothing I choose to do when I get home to an empty house is right. If I choose to empty the dishwasher, I should have started dinner. If I choose to start cooking dinner, I should have folded the laundry. If I folded the laundry, I should have emptied the dishwasher. My advice here, choose any chore you can find. DO NOT sit down on the couch and relax. If it appears there are no chores to do, you are wrong. There is always a chore to do.
I come home to utter chaos. Both kids have completely lost it. My son is crying his face off because he’s been a complete handful all day and nothing is going his way. Things are probably going his way, he just see it that way. My daughter has a poopy diaper, and my wife has probably been saving it for me to change when I get home. Both kids want nothing by attention from me, and my wife is completely exhausted from an excruciatingly long day, and dinner has not been started. Often in this scenario, there is nothing even planned for dinner at this point. My wife wants nothing but a break. No rest for daddy today. Now I have to choose what my top priority is. Do I change the diaper? Start dinner? Comfort my son? Attend to my wife, see how she is doing?
Much like Scenario #1, nothing I choose to do at this point is correct.
I come home to complete silence. My daughter is napping. My son is watching something on the ipad or playing quietly in his room. Dinner is either started, or something has been prepared and just needs cooked. My wife is sitting and relaxing. This scenario seems to be leading to the “dream”. At this point, one wrong step can set everything off. If I try to change out of my work clothes, my daughter will likely wake up. If I try to start dinner, my son comes out and expects 100% of my attention. If I try to sit and relax… refer to my warning in Scenario #1.
There are many other scenarios that can occur, but they’re far less common. Regardless of the scenario you may come home to, remember this: Your family loves you. It doesn’t matter what you come home to. The scenario may only last 15 minutes, or it may continue all night. You will get your chance to relax after work. Make your family your priority. Yes, the brown stuff may hit the fan every single night when you come home, but I can assure you, these are still important moments. Live in and cherish them, because one day your kids will grow up and move out. Thats when you’ll really miss these days.