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The perfect 1950s couple, inverted.

Thankfully campus is open on the Queen's Birthday holiday (does that mean Deakin is republican???). So, I get to be in the office today, which kills two birds with one stone; I can work on the abstract for the upcoming conference submission, and I don't have to spend a day listening to my kids squabble because their routine has been disrupted…

By children, I mostly mean the younger two, and by disrupted I essentially mean Ari. He doesn't cope well with change - he is a lot like Erik in this - he gets all hyper and provocative, expecting something exciting to happen because it's Monday and he's not at school. I know he'll eventually outgrow this stage, and don't get me wrong, I think he is perfectly adorable, but I'm just as happy not to have to deal with it while I'm stressed about Uni work.

This office has been a godsend. It's an adult sanctuary. I sound like every cliche of a career woman ever published.

Sometimes I wonder if The Grumpy Old Man and I aren't just the perfect 1950s couple inverted. The other day I was talking to my supervisor. She doesn't have children, she has cats. We were coming to the end of our conversation about how the colloquium was perfectly timed before the school holidays start and she commented that it would be be good for me to have a couple of weeks off while I had the kids on my hands.

I laughed and said that wasn't really a problem for me because I'm the dad the in the house. That is, I have the traditional dad role of being there for the fun bits but leaving the day-to-day care up to my partner. The Grumpy Old Man certainly seems to enjoy hanging out at home with the kids far more than I do. Besides, I put in many very intense years until 18 months ago because The Grumpy Old Man couldn't be pregnant or breastfeed, and until about age 4 it seems my boys felt dad was the consolation prize if mum wasn't available - now it's the opposite (except maybe with Ari who is still quite the mummy's boy).

I love my evenings with the older boys; we just hang out and it's great. It's the younger boys I struggle with. I love them, I just don't have a lot of patience. I mean, I have a lot more patience with them now than I ever had with their older brothers at the same age - in that sense I've developed a significant amount of patience, but it's not as much as I feel I should have.

So, I love coming in the office and directing my focus to my work. Maybe also because I know there comes a time every day when I can walk away from the work. With parenting, there is no such thing.

For two nights running now, i've been woken at about 5am by Ari - who has discovered taking himself to the toilet in the night now, but never without loud banging of doors - having to send him back to bed so he doesn't watch early morning evangelists on tv. Parenting is around the clock, and parenting doesn't care what else you have going on in your life. Parenting is unpredictable and just when you feel you have a grip on it, is sends you a fresh curve ball.

I like work. It is predictable and while there is a steep learning curve at the beginning, there are fewer curve balls.

I would never not have kids, though - in case you're wondering. I'm just very aware now that I'm grateful to have kids who have almost outgrown early childhood.


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