By: John Jericiau
It’s day two of four days alone with my three sons, ages six years, five years, and ten months. I think that sentence alone would make the heart rate of most parents begin to race. But I’m good with it. I signed up for it, and it’s no surprise that I’m in this position since I’m married to a very driven and upwardly mobile individual. I’m not kidding; he’s going to be one of those 90-year olds who is still taking classes and skydiving and learning to surf.
There was a time when I was that very driven and upwardly mobile individual. My master’s degree in Physical Therapy from USC gave me many opportunities to advance in my field at a rather quick rate, and I did. It’s an awesome field – very rewarding, very stimulating, and very lucrative (more than the average person might realize.) But I’ve had my eyes on other interests as well – writing a book, for example. The last seven years have been rich with content, that’s for sure.
I’ve been with Alen for almost a decade now, and he is definitely ramping up in his medical career while I have ramped down in mine. But it’s almost – actually it’s definitely – a disservice to all stay-at-home parents to say that I have ramped down with my new career as a stay-at-home parent. So let’s just say I jumped tracks, branched off, or something like that. It’s a challenging, never-ending, and utterly exhausting job.
And it’s definitely a different kind of job. No annual evaluations with pay raises. No Emmy Awards or Great Parent Awards ceremony to strive toward. No credit for continuing education that I might attend, like the seminar on discipline at the library or the articles on feeding wholesome foods online. The satisfaction has to come from within, because rarely is anyone going to say to you “Good job in your parenting today”, although I do love when that does happen. On the rare occasion when my husband watches the three boys alone for an extended period of time (four or more hours) and then upon my return looks haggard and shakes his head saying “I don’t know how you do it”, I take that as a compliment. And just today I was at Yogurtland with the boys and a friend of theirs, and we are sitting by chance with a classmate of my son’s and his parents. My son asks me out of the blue if I have won a lot of the races I have run. All kids’ ears perked up as I said “OH YES!” (I didn’t want to lie), but then I realized that this information was being integrated into five little minds so I added, “but the most important thing was that I had fun”, at which time the parents gave me the thumbs up and a “good save, Dad” out of the side of their mouth. I’ll take that.
I fill up the boys’ days with lots of activities. School takes a large chunk but not enough, so I need to add more. Just today the boys had an afterschool class (granted it was just a cooking class), but that was followed by swim lessons for both. At that point I sent one off to a play date with a friend while I took the other to basketball practice at the YMCA. Of course my constant is a teething ten-month old who is by some stroke of good luck the happiest baby in the world, but a ten-month nonetheless.
It is inconceivable to me how they could still have what seems like boundless energy after this day, but they do. They want to play in the yard, they want to do their homework, and they want to read their book. I’m so fortunate to have three healthy boys, don’t get me wrong. But this is bordering on the ridiculous. I’m an endurance athlete myself but even I’m crawling to bed by the end of the day. You think I’m kidding, but our room is upstairs and last night I chose the couch downstairs because ten steps seemed eternal.
We did manage to FaceTime Papa (is that a verb yet, like google and xerox?) the last two nights. We cuddled up on the sofa (the one I passed out on) and waved happily to him there in Indiana as he enjoyed his first MBA class for executives/physicians. I’m happy for him, and I’m supportive. I really am. And I’m sure he felt content when he saw his little angels in pajamas and smiles. But that hotel room he was in looked like heaven on earth to me. We recapped the highlights of the day to him and then blew our good night kisses. I know we’re a good team. He makes the money and I make the beds. He saves lives and I save the leftovers. And our boys continue to grow to be the best they can. Um, I mean they are really enjoying life.