Lifestyle

'I Get To Be A Dictator': Why Being A Househusband Is The Most Fulfilling Job I've Ever Had

My wife's pneumonia has piled on the pressure, but I'm crushing it.
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My wife, god bless her, has pneumonia. She woke up one morning with a cough that sounded like a metal sheet being ripped apart, the doctor gave her an entire Tour de France worth of steroids, and she’s been in bed ever since. As I write, that was nine days ago. The NHS website suggests it’ll be weeks, if not months, before she’s fully recovered.

It’s scary. Pneumonia can be fatal and, while I don’t think we’re going to get to that point, it’s still incredibly horrible to see someone you love suffer through something like this. What’s more, it’s made things a little tricky logistically. I’ve found myself shouldering everything in her absence. I wake up, I get the kids ready for nursery at 8:30, and then I have to squeeze in an entire day’s work before they finish at 1pm, making sure that during this time I also earn enough money to compensate for my wife’s lack of earnings (sidenote: never ever be self-employed). I pick up the kids, I look after them all afternoon, I cook dinner and make the next day’s lunchboxes, I feed them, I wash up, I bathe them, then after bedtime I spend the evening catching up on the work I couldn’t finish during the day before crawling into the spare bed for a few hours of broken sleep before it all begins afresh.

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Guys, I am fucking CRUSHING IT.

No, seriously, I’ve got this whole thing down to a fine art. My house is currently running like an expensive Swiss watch. I am so good at this. It’d make you sick how good I am at this.

Better yet, I’m actually enjoying it. I always knew that there was a little tiny control freak lurking under my surface, but I didn’t realise that it was going to burst through my chest quite this dramatically. My mind is constantly abuzz with the next five chores on my list, and I find myself linking them up and executing all of them at once like a beat-’em-up combo move, purely to impress nobody but myself. The kitchen is clean. The clothes are washed. My work is getting done. My kids are happy. I feel like Skeletor at the end of Masters of the Universe, pulsating with the power of the stars, and all because I’ve figured out how to load the dishwasher while everyone is still eating dinner.

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In fairness, this routine isn’t too far removed from my normal one. If I’d been dropped in at the deep end, with kids and a sick wife to look after and a house to run, there’s an overwhelming likelihood that I’d be in the middle of a meltdown right now. But we generally split things down the middle anyway, so all I’m really doing is working a little less during the day and getting a little less rest at night.

But still, it’s coming surprisingly easy so far. So easy, in fact, that it’s giving me a satisfaction that I don’t get from plain old work. I have a sneaky feeling that I might have actually been born to do this. So much so that the first point on my agenda when my wife recovers is to resume Operation Why Don’t You Be The Breadwinner So That I Can Give Up Work And Just Househusband Full Time.

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Yes, there are sacrifices. I’ve had to cancel meetings and appointments to accommodate all my new duties, and my social life is now completely nonexistent. But guess what? That’s brilliant too! I hate going places and seeing people, and now I have the perfect excuse not to do any of that shit. Try and get me out of the house, I dare you. Tempt me with anything. Money. Adventure. Food. Fun. It doesn’t matter, because I’ll still turn it down. My wife’s pneumonia has made me the hermit that I’ve always longed to be, and I’ll forever be grateful to her dangerously inflamed lungs for that.

Obviously, there’s a chance that I’m only enjoying this so much because I know it’s temporary. In a few weeks my wife will be back on her feet and things will be back to normal, which might amplify my enjoyment a little. If this was forever – if I was a single parent and I was faced with decades of this relentless round-the-clock grind – I guarantee that I’d feel differently. Instead, this feels like a holiday; a holiday where I can exercise my total unflinching control over everything I see. It’s a holiday where I get to be a genuine dictator. For the record, I think I’d make a brilliant dictator. I am omnipotent. My authority is total. Defy me at your absolute peril, puny mortal. I AM A GOLDEN GOD AND YOU MUST FEAR MY UNKNOWABLE RAGE.

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OK, so I’ve just read this back and it does sort of sound a bit like the confession of someone who deliberately gave his wife pneumonia. That wasn’t really my point; my point was to underline how much I’m enjoying being out of my comfort zone. But at the same time, you can’t prove anything.

This story originally appeared on Esquire.co.uk. Minor edits have been made by the Esquiremag.ph editors.

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Stuart Heritage
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