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HAGEN: Panic! At the household

When mom's away, dads will ... panic? Well, kind of. Perhaps the better saying is, "When mom's away, dads will do their best, hopefully." While gathering my thoughts on a topic for another parenting column, a text from my wife came to me saying s...

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When mom's away, dads will ... panic? Well, kind of.

Perhaps the better saying is, "When mom's away, dads will do their best, hopefully."

While gathering my thoughts on a topic for another parenting column, a text from my wife came to me saying she has plans Saturday and will be gone much of the day. That means I'm responsible for two girls, ages 4 years and 9 months.

I've been a dad for 1,675 days and a father of two for 267 days. And most of those are spent with momma and the family. It's rare for me to be the sole parent in the house.

When Grace was first born, our jobs required me to have one-on-one time with her when she was a baby. At the time, Shannon worked several nights and weekends in retail, and I had a more typical 8-to-5 schedule.

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I don't remember much about the first time I was alone with Grace, but what still sticks out with me is when Shannon returned to work from maternity leave. It's a sad moment to see a mother leave her child for the first time.

I figure most first-time parents are a bit worried about being responsible for a little kiddo. This little baby is in complete need of your care. It must be more comforting for new moms, though, with that maternal instinct. That, or they all just have a great parenting poker face.

Some of my greatest memories in the past four years have been watching football alone with Grace as she rested on the floor, eyes glued to the TV, while wearing her Packers apparel. The first real deep belly giggles (probably from some kind of fart noises I was making) also happened during daddy-daughter time.

Sometimes all goes well when mom's away. Others, not as much.

Now with two girls to watch, the house can get more chaotic. Oh, and we also have a black lab puppy, Scout, who joined the mix on Father's Day. Three dogs, a baby and a 4-year-old make for some Hagen household tornadoes.

One parent shouldn't be responsible for all that at one time. It's like entering the Twilight Zone, never knowing what's going to happen next. Dinners have been burned and home decor broken. To all the single parents out there, I salute you.

When all is going crazy, I guess you just get through it. Prioritize what needs to be done the most.

Here's a scenario, based off previous memories, I may encounter Saturday when I'm home with the girls: While microwaving hot dogs and slicing apples for lunch, two of the dogs begin wrestling and knock over the play castle in the living room that was set up for all of the Disney princesses.

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Baby, meanwhile, begins crying due to A. Hungry and needs a perfectly warm bottle; B. Needs diaper (and maybe outfit) change; C. Wants to be held because she knows you're cooking; D. All of the above!

After consoling 4-year-old that her perfect castle masterpiece scene was ruined, you split up the black labs and send them outside only to realize it's sub-zero temperatures and they'll need to come in soon or they'll be doggy-icicles.

Now, the microwave goes off and 4-year-old wants her lunch with chocolate milk and applesauce (because she changed her mind about the slices). Baby is still crying and the bottle you need to use is dirty and the milk is frozen. Oh, and the dogs just knocked over a lamp and you stepped on a Disney princess.

What do you do? ... What do you do?

Panic? Well, kind of.

Just do your best, dads. Because moms handle this stuff all the time.

Opinion by Luke Hagen
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
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