How My Guilt Helped Me Take Up More Parenting Responsibilities

“Wake up kids,” is my morning call to wake up my seven-year-old daughter and three-and-half-year-old son for school every day, and I am loving every part of it. This has been my routine for the past year, ever since my wife picked up a new assignment. She now has to leave home by 7 am. I remember a year ago, due to my hectic work schedule and late-night dinners with clients, I could not share my kids’ yesterday.  For the past many years, the time I spent with my children had suffered a downward spiral. This realisation was choking me, as I began trying to find ways to spend more time with them on weekdays too. But ‘How’? That was the biggest question.

I clearly remember the afternoon, my wife called me to break the news on her new assignment offer. We exchanged a few notes and then hung up, agreeing to conclude this discussion in the evening – I had an appointment with my wife that evening!

I had an appointment with my wife that evening!

Post that phone call, there was an instant gush of thoughts to complicate the decision matrix. The positives for my wife’s career were very clear and, I acknowledged that. The doubts, however, were about me stepping into a new role in the mornings and we both were equally opinionated about that.

Could I take on the role to wake up my kids, help with morning chores, feed them breakfast, pack their bags, help with the bathing, school uniform care, comb their hair and send one kid along with the driver, while dropping off the other one to school en route to my office? And while managing my kids’ entire morning routine, I will have to get ready on time too. I got scared. I began sweating at this prospect. I took my mind off it by immersing myself in office work. But the thoughts gripped me again within an hour.

The biggest question on my mind was, ‘Whom am I doing this for?’

The biggest question on my mind was, ‘Whom am I doing this for’? Is it for my wife or my kids?’ My thoughts wandered all over the place to satisfy my male ego, that I would be helping my wife and my kids by stepping into this role. BUT, ‘What is in it for me’? My morning routine shall go for a toss, I will have to be involved with household work more, I might get late to the office while doing so, and I may be exhausted by then. Can I handle my kids’ tantrums every morning? What if they do this or that? How do I handle various ‘what if’ scenarios building up in my mind? Eventually, I was back to square uno, ‘What is in it for me’? Huh!

My search for the ‘eureka’ moment helped me discover the positive side of this situation. The biggest positive here was that I get to spend more time with my kids and my wife, who are my life. Then where is the question of doing this for them? I have to do this for me, else I won’t sustain for long.

The guilt of not spending enough time with my family sprang into action and filled my consciousness.

My biggest malefaction was that I am not able to spend much time with my kids. What takes up my time – Was that a question? Or an exclamation! I am used to sharing my kids’ past week rather than talk about the present and future week. Whenever I use to arrive home late, I used to reconstruct my kids’ day by going through the mess they had made. This was an incomplete story, but I could not afford much at that hour. I used to imagine my kids playing with those toys or things and how they would have laughed, cried, fought, asked for a referee, pushed each other, felt thirsty, called for their mom to intervene, demanded to be fed.

Their joy, their pink cheeks and sweaty foreheads. How they constantly fidget with their pyjamas to keep them from falling off their waist. I had to imagine them scratching their nose, rubbing eyes, running around the house raising a commotion, and eventually how they would have come and sat on their mother’s lap, tired, or just hugged her. I used to wish I was there to hug them too, wipe their nose, request them to have some water, rest on my lap, then mess up their hair, scratch their backs, tickle their feet and just in the joy that was their company. But Alas! I was at work.

But, I could now do all this with my kids every morning, if I woke them up and spent time with them, then wait for evenings to do the same.

But, I could now do all this with my kids every morning, if I woke them up and spent time with them, then wait for evenings to do the same. I could now share their yesterday than the previous week. I could cuddle my kids while doing the chores and also be aware of their issues and help to solve them. I realized that the biggest gainer in all this is Me.

Now, every day, I wake them up and spend time, play with them and in the process, they are fast growing to be adults. The school teachers have noticed a positive change in the kids and their respective performance has improved. I feed my male ego by attributing a lion’s share of it to my contributions to their morning routine – but then who is complaining?

Pic: Arleen Weise-Unsplash

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Views expressed are the author’s own.