First, let me start by saying that I am in awe of anyone who is a stay at home parent. I do not have a clue how you stay home with your kids and remain sane.
I’ve had two kids and I love my children dearly but I quickly figured out I did not and could not be a stay at home parent. From the copious amount of alcohol I wanted to consume, to naked and hysterical crying in the shower, to flat out screaming at the top of my lungs at my child, I knew I was not cut out to be a stay at home mom.
I tried to repeatedly explain this to my husband with zero success. This was due to my inability to properly communicate my feelings and emotions during a postpartum “what the heck is going on with my body” state and his general lack of understanding of what was so hard about watching two kids all day, keeping up the housework and making sure dinner was ready every night when he got home so he could eat and plop his behind on the sofa and relax.
Now I know just reading that you felt that fire in your cheeks and immediately categorized my husband as a giant jerk. In moments like that he was. Note I said HE WAS.
Let me back up for a minute. As a child, my husband grew up in a house were dad worked very long days and mom was a stay home parent until the kids got older. Mom watched kids, cleaned the house, and cooked almost every meal for the family. Dinner was always on the table at 6 every night. Dad could come home eat and relax with the family. This is what my husband was taught an ideal family unit should look like. And, God bless his mother, she was a rockstar at it.
I however was not raised in this mindset. I came from a family of two working-class parents who struggled to put food on the table. Everyone, including me, pulled their own weight around the house. I was taught to cook, do the laundry, spotlessly clean the home from top to bottom, and many other household chores at a very young age. By the time I was in high school I was basically living on my own but my parents paid the bills.
Now fast forward to July 2020. We got the very unfortunate news that my husband was being forced into early retirement by his company. We had several long conversations about reorganizing our household budget and one of those things was to take the kids out of daycare for a month. My husband agreed to stay home with them 6 days a week while I was at work. I very, very cautiously agreed to this.
On one hand, I didn’t think he could handle being a stay home parent, doing the housework, and having dinner made every night. I thought it was going to be way too stressful for him because I had been in those shoes and I hated every minute of it. On the other hand, I am a petty queen. I knew things were going to be a disaster and I was going to do exactly what he did to me to prove a point. Was it wrong? Oh yes, absolutely, but again I am a petty queen.
It took 3 weeks for the poo poo to hit the fan. Now mind you, during those 3 weeks, I never got a dinner cooked for me and the laundry was folded twice.
I got the beloved text message on a Tuesday. Paraphrasing it, it basically said I can’t watch our children anymore. They are terrorists and I’m being held, hostage. Send help.
My immediate reaction was, “now do you understand what I was trying to tell you about me being a stay at home mom?” But I quickly erased that message as I knew it was inappropriate and instead sent a politely worded message of understanding and empathy with his position and offering solutions.
But don’t worry for all you other in the closet petty queens out there, I got my moment a few days later when I got to utter my first reaction words. And I watched as my husband’s whole perspective on stay-at-home parents switched. He finally got what I had been screaming about for years. He finally understood what was in fact so hard about watching our children and attempting to do the housework.
Stay at home parenting is no joke. It’s never all sunshine and rainbows. In fact, those moments are rare and for some those moments are the golden nuggets that keep empowering them to be the very best caregiver for their family. My husband and I are not those people, and he is now joining many others in a newfound respect for those who are stay at home parents. You are superheroes!