Daddy's home - to stay

Daddy's home - to stay
Mr Wayne Toh with three of his four children (from left) Elliot, Ethel and Tertius. Mr Toh’s life went into a harrowing spin when his wife walked out on the family but he realised his children needed him more than ever.

Wayne Toh is 39 years old, 176 cm tall and has a 74cm waist.

There is no hint of a widening girth, the bane of many men approaching middle age. In fact, tipping the scales at just 63kg, he could definitely do with a few extra kilos on his frame.

His beanpole figure has less to do with a high metabolic rate than an extremely taxing domestic situation.

The rigours of a full-time job aside, the photographer has to keep house and parent four growing children. Eldest son Seth, 14, is grappling with teenage angst. Ethel, 12, is stressing over her Primary School Leaving Examination. Tertius, 10, is dyslexic, and Elliot, like any curious eight-year old, needs a bit of attention.

Mr Toh does everything himself. And he has been doing it for the last four years after his wife of 10 years upped and left suddenly for reasons he says he still cannot comprehend.

Her departure turned his life topsy-turvy and sent him on a harrowing spin through the emotional wringer with heartbreak, thoughts of suicide, guilt and helplessness.

"But the worst is over," he says. "On a happiness scale of one to 10, I would say I'm at a seven or eight."

It is 6pm and you can see the sun setting from the family's maisonette in Choa Chu Kang. The children have had their dinner.

Seth is singing There Are Worse Things I Could Do from the musical Grease. A student at the School of the Arts, he has a plaintive and soulful voice.

Ethel, tall and graceful, is revising for her PSLE, while Tertius and Elliot are doing their homework. Cheeky and friendly, the two younger boys often clamber over their father to give him affectionate hugs and pecks on the cheek.

Ensconced in a well-worn armchair, Mr Toh looks a little pooped but is candid and congenial as he talks about his life and how it changed dramatically four years ago.

The younger of two children, he grew up in a wooden house built by his paternal grandfather in Lim Chu Kang.

"He nailed every single plank, and even built a car porch for my father. He made me dream of becoming an architect," says Mr Toh, who shelved his plans to study architecture in Scotland to get married in his early 20s.

His parents ran a shop dealing in car audio and other accessories.

Life was generally carefree but for a few years there were domestic rumblings at home because of his father's gambling habit.

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