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Secret Mommyhood Confession Saturday

January 22, 2011

My husband is a stay-at-home dad. I know, right? We’re so lucky. Lucky that he wants to do this (and I don’t). Lucky that we can make it work. Lucky that we don’t have to do the crazy getting-everyone-out-the-door routine every morning to get two adults to work and a 2 1/2 year old to daycare.

Instead, I get up in the morning and have some quiet time with the kid. He and his dad goof around in the bedroom while I have a shower and get ready for work. When it’s time to go, I get a hug from a small boy who’s playing happily at home in his pj’s (or naked, as is more often the case lately), ready for whatever fun activities his dad has in store for the two of them. It makes the mornings generally quite lovely.

But there’s a down side to this arrangement. In our family, a stay-at-home dad and a working mom means I get up with the kid on weekdays. Nine times out of 10, that’s earlier than I’d have to get up. Sometimes it’s 6 a.m. and, with a kid who doesn’t sleep well, 6 a.m. is really freaking early.

It means I go to work at a busy job and then come home and go right back into mom mode. I get an enthusiastic greeting at the door from a very excited, very jumpy dog and a toddler who’s heading into the time of day more often associated with meltdowns than magical moments. Some days I love this – the running, jumping, “Hi Mama!” show of love from both of them. Some days it’s overwhelming.

Yes, my husband makes dinner. And does dishes. But here’s the thing: I’m an introvert at heart. Pre-baby, we’d both come home and have a little bit of time to decompress before dinner. I don’t get that anymore. I get a tag-along while I get changed. A very sweet boy who wants me to dive right into playing on the floor with him, even if that’s the last thing I feel like doing right when I walk in the door.

As well, I like to putter. There’s something about tidying the kitchen that makes me feel sane. It seems silly to complain about an arrangement that means I have a husband who tidies the house at the end of the day, but some days I would really rather do that than play with Playdoh.

The SAHD arrangement also means I do bedtime during the week, which involves giving a bath to a kid who likes to splash water EVERYWHERE and trying to brush the teeth of a child who would rather smear me with toothpaste than sit still for a few minutes so I can clean his teeth. It involves trying to convince a headstrong two-year-old that it’s okay to get into his bed, okay to go to sleep, and okay to do all of this without his mother having to sit in the room for God knows how long. Either that, or plop him in there and listen to the screaming.

Yes, the stories and cuddles are awesome. Yes, seeing my active little boy looking like a baby again asleep in his bed is wonderful. But at the 14-hour mark, it takes a lot of patience I often don’t have.

You see, if my husband worked too, some of this would be easier. I wouldn’t have to do all of the kid stuff every night. I’d get to come home and putter sometimes. I’d be a little bit less mom and a little bit more me.

And that’s my secret mommyhood confession.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. January 31, 2011 1:36 pm

    My husband is a stay-at-home-dad as well, not by choice, but by being laid-off, but I hear you on so many levels with being “mom” after work. It’s so nice to hear this from another person sharing the same frustrations.

  2. Rich permalink
    January 28, 2011 10:21 am

    Liam, you’re obviously very passionate about feminist issues to react so strongly to my wife’s “luck” but I think your comments may be misdirected.

    At its heart, the feminist movement is about women having the freedom to make their own choices.

    When the feminist movement was gaining strength women were expected to stay at home and raise the children. So for society to reconsider its expectations about gender roles it was necessary for women en masse to leave the home and enter the workforce.

    We now live in a society where women and men are both able to provide for their families. To say that a woman who stays at home to care for her children is oppressed is only true if staying at home isn’t what she would choose for herself.

    Many families cannot afford to have one parent stay home. Those women who can and choose to stay at home with their children, I suspect, feel quite “lucky” to be able to do so.

    Robin’s “luck” is in finding a partner whose choice in parenting compliments her choice to return to work and not stay at home. In that way, I’m very “lucky” too.

  3. Liam permalink
    January 28, 2011 12:08 am

    I don’t understand why you say you are “lucky” to have a stay at home husband. Why? Do you tell men who have stay at home wives that they are lucky? Cause that’s not what I hear. I hear men who have stay at home wives not being told that they are “lucky” but rather that they are oppressors whose wives are in need of liberation; that they are living an outdated “1950’s” lifestyle; that it would better for both them and their wives if the wife worked outside of the home and was fulfilled by a career rather than being at home miserable. I never hear anyone say that anyone in a stay at home mom family is lucky, so why is it that a stay at home dad family is “lucky”? Do you think Betty Friedan and the feminist movement were wrong to tell women they should work outside the home instead of being stay at home moms? I mean if it’s such a lucky arrangement, why did they insist it should be ended? Do you encourage women to be avoid careers and instead be stay at home moms because it’s so lucky? Do you tell men to avoid women who want careers because it would be more “lucky” to have a wife who stays home? How did we spend the last 50 years telling women in stay at home wife families that they were all miserable, lonely, frustrated, unfulfilled, dependent, economically vulnerable, poor role models, lacking adult contact, wasting their education, unequal, lacking identity, etc, only to tell stay at home dad families that they are “lucky”?

    • January 28, 2011 7:33 am

      I don’t even know where to start with this comment. Did you even read the post? Did you read it in the context of what my blog is about?

      Am I lucky I’m married to someone who wants to stay at home with our child and is able to do that? Yes. I consider that very lucky.

      Do I think SAHMs are lucky? Yes, if that’s what they choose to do and are able to make it work – both financially and personally. It’s not a choice that works for me.

      Do I think women should work outside the home? Yes. IF that is what they want to do. Obviously I could have chosen to stay home, and if I were the sort of anti-feminist idiot you seem to imply I would probably have done that and insisted my husband be the man and work while I stayed at home with the kid.

      Betty Friedan was active at a time that it would have been almost unthinkable that there would be as many stay-at-home dads as there are today. It’s a totally different world now. And I’m sure she would have understood that there are aspects of being a working mom with a SAHD husband that aren’t perfectly empowering either.

  4. January 22, 2011 7:38 pm

    I can sympathize with you on the coming home to putter. When I work, we keep the kids at home with a nanny. I get home a few hours earlier than my husband and the moment I walk in the door I have to be on – no more hopping on the computer, taking a few moments for myself, etc. It can make the day very long & very tiring!

  5. January 22, 2011 7:18 pm

    Thanks, Pam. We have talked about that and have changed a few things. And he’s totally willing to do the kid stuff when I need a night off. But knowing that and being able to admit that I need help and ask for it are quite different šŸ˜‰

  6. Pam permalink
    January 22, 2011 6:08 pm

    Hugs, Robin. Have you ever considered changing up the morning and/or evening routines? I understand it is what it is b/c you WOH & he is a SAHD but that doesn’t mean it has to be that way or has stay that way. If it means possibly making life a little easier/more enjoyable for you, maybe it’s worth exploring??

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