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Special Needs Parenting: A ‘Shout Out’ to the Daddies

Fiona Russo by Fiona Russo Additional Needs

Fiona Russo

Fiona Russo

I'm a busy mother of four, wife of one, and doctoral candidate to my ever-patient university colleagues. My passions in life are many, but there ar...

Charlie had a brilliant therapy session last week.

So good, in fact, that I just had to give Michael a call at work to tell him all about it.

After missing him twice, we finally managed to make contact and I excitedly told him all about her amazing progress that morning.

When I’d finished, I expected him to be as cheery as me, but he just quietly said, “That’s awesome darling, give her a big kiss from Daddy. I have to go grab some lunch, talk to you later.”

A few minutes later (and a bit miffed), I sent him a quick ‘Are you ok?’ and got this text message:

“I’m just trying not to cry actually… it was amazing to hear about Charlie doing so much today… and heartwrenching that I wasn’t there.”

I realised then that it was perhaps a bit insensitive of me to call him at work to brag about another ‘first’ he’d just missed.

But this is the tightrope we walk.

Michael wants to hear all about Charlie’s therapy sessions, but he’s rarely able to take her.

He loves to talk about all the things she’s working on at home or with Nanna or at kindy.

We talk about all the children and their achievements all the time, but Charlie’s ‘big’ moments can be pretty few and far between, so they’re always a big deal.

Also, the bigger kids have news to share that comes from school, from friends’ houses, from band rehearsals or dance classes – these moments are theirs alone, because neither of us were there to see them first-hand.

Charlie spends little time away from me, so I’m almost always there when her ‘moments’ come.

I always worked full time before Charlie, and I do remember feeling some of what he’s going through.

Some days, it really sucked.

To Michael – and all the other Daddies (or Mummies!) in similar positions – I just want to say:

Thank you… for working hard and long hours so that our children can have one parent available to them most of the time.

Thank you… for never moaning if the dinner isn’t ready when you get home from work.

Thank you… for offering to cook it yourself sometimes.

Thank you… for saving your days off for specialist appointments, sports days, therapy sessions, parent/teacher interviews, and school performances.

Thank you… for doing the dishes on the weekends when you’d rather be snoozing on the couch.

Thank you… for taking freelance jobs where you can so that we can afford occasional treats (or just pay bills!).

Thank you… for staying in with the kids so that I can go to Happy Bowl and karaoke or just to the pub for a wine (or three) when I need a break.

Thank you… for arranging ‘surprise nights out’ for me - with you or with my girlfriends - when I’m too exhausted to think of it myself.

Thank you… for supporting my need to talk about my struggle with the transition from primary breadwinner to primary caretaker (on almost every date), and

Thank you… for filling the former role so seamlessly and without complaint.

Thank you… for patiently helping with homework and housework and cello practice.

Thank you… for being a supportive husband in every aspect of the word.

Thank you… for letting me vent about how difficult things are and how I feel like I’m going under sometimes.

Thank you… for celebrating the good times with us.

Thank you… for being a great Dad, and for spending one-on-one time with each of the children where you can.

Thank you… for everything it seems like I don’t notice – I do.


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