This daddy is happy for an extra set of helping hands

June 13, 2003|by JOEL HUFFER

"Mommy's home."

Those two words are music to every working mother's ears.

And every stay-at-home father's.

While many people look forward to summer because of cookouts and trips to the beach, I eagerly await its arrival for a set of helping hands.

As one of a growing number of fathers who cares for his children during the day then goes to work at night, I welcome the two-month break given to my wife by Washington County Public Schools.

Not only does it give me a chance to sleep a little longer in the morning, but it also reduces by half the number of diapers I have to change in a day. And with two boys not yet potty-trained, that is good news.


Wednesday marked the final day of the school year for students, and today is the last day required for 10-month employees such as my wife - a middle school counselor.

So Monday, life gets a little easier.

For most of the nearly seven years that we have been married, my wife and I have worked opposite shifts. When we decided to have children, we chose to keep those work schedules rather than opt for day care.

Sure, there are days that try my patience. And there are nights that I'd like to be home with my wife.

But the chance to spend each weekday with my sons is something I wouldn't trade. It's an opportunity that many parents, for a variety of reasons, don't have.

The first two years, when we had just one child, went pretty smoothly. Nap time for Drew was nap time for Daddy, and everybody was happy.

Since Alex arrived more than a year ago, things have become a little trickier. One's nap time usually is the other's play time, which means very few naps for Daddy.

And meals?

Getting two children breakfast and lunch is much more of an adventure than it was with a single child.

But I manage - with a roll of paper towels and quick reflexes.

OK, it's really more than just the helping hands that I welcome.

It's the extra pair of arms to push the boys on swings or toss balls in the back yard.

It's the extra pair of legs to climb to the top of the sliding boards at the park.

And those hands - they're good for drawing on the driveway with chalk, making figures out of Play-Doh and building puzzles.

These are activities that I enjoy with my sons during the day and that my wife enjoys with them in the evening.

For the next nine weeks, though, they are activities that we will be able to share as a family.

And that's why Daddy is happy that Mommy's home.

Joel Huffer is a copy editor at The Herald-Mail. He can be reached at

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