I’ve had a long day. My arms are tired from jostling our five week old baby. It wouldn’t be that hard if I were just jostling him. In fact, that sounded like a vacation to me. I’ve been jostling and juggling our two and four year old as well. It’s 5pm and my husband, Anthony, won’t be home for another hour and a half. Our older children have fought, whined, and cried their way through the entire day. At one point, I had all three on my laps with the older two arguing over who could hold their brother. No one left happily.
Mommy needs screen time. Mommy needs to not answer another why question. Mommy would like to soak in the tub. Mommy cannot wait to turn them over to their father, who, loving man that he is, will scoop them up, put the baby in the carrier, and run them outside so Mommy can have all these profound desires. Another hour and a half until he crosses the threshold, and my back, arms, and ears get a break.
I used to feel like a slacker in the contribution department, somehow my husband’s 9-5 job seemed like it had more value to our family. His job often involved long hours, stress, sometimes even working night and weekends, and—at the ed of the day—he brings home a paycheck. My job? Wrangling our three children (aged 4, 2, and newborn), cooking, running errands, cleaning, playing with and teaching the kids. But even though my husband was the one bringing home the bacon, he never viewed me as an unequal contributing member of the family. Soon, I also came to see that—while my job might be considerably less glamourous—I was providing for our family in a different and important way.
When Anthony finally does cross the threshold to a night of breakfast-for-dinner, I have to quell the urge to do a scream & run. Instead I quietly inform him it’s been a terrible day and that I need him to take the kids. Despite this, I remember I wanted to stay home with our kids. I do want this stay-at-home mom gig.
Sure, I miss the satisfaction of a paycheck and a raise for a job well done, people with necks and no visible bodily fluids, and Starbucks chai tea lattes. I miss conversations with said people with necks, and typing up big words. But to swap my job as a stay-at-home parent for that? To not nurse on demand, to not spend the day dreaming big with my imaginative four year old, to miss out on repeatedly performing a comb over on my two year old daughter’s impossible hair that renders her blind with bangs? I know how lucky I am, and how important my job is.
For my husband and I, it’s not a competition as to who has the harder day, or who has the more important job. We both have both, every day. And because we know that, we can stay balanced. Most days.