First of all, this is not a letter of complaint. We are very lucky. We have a beautiful home. We have a healthy, growing family. Everyone makes choices in this life, and we have made choices together, as a team, that have led us here. However, I do feel that our life is a bit unusual in some ways, and one of those ways is that my husband is currently working roughly 90 hours a week. This is not an exaggeration. Last week he had put in 50+ hours by Wednesday. What does that even look like on a weekly basis, you may ask? It looks like working 6 full days a week. It looks like Daddy getting into the office around 9 am and leaving between midnight and 2 am most weekdays. It looks like this:
- Mama works 90+ hours a week, too. Yeah, it’s true. When your spouse is gone that much, you don’t get PTO either. I don’t (generally) get relief before bedtime from my mama duties. When the toddler wakes up in the middle of the night or at 6am, you guessed it, it’s me. “Mommy!” I am on call 24/7, but really, what parent isn’t? I don’t care if you’re stay-at-home or not, parenting is a job that you don’t get time off from. The only difference is that unless you’re a single parent, most people do it in teams. On our team, this mama does most of the hands-on stuff day-to-day.
- It’s really hard to get motivated to make dinner. Let’s face it – when it is just mama and the toddler eating, and he is just thrilled with Annie’s pizza poppers – it feels really silly doing 30 minutes of prep work with something that requires fresh chopped cilantro. (Plus, those damn pizza poppers are amazing.) If there is a parent out there that does this fresh dinner every night, kudos to you. I am a terrible cook as it is, so grilled cheese is pretty much a staple at our house. Lunch, dinner, breakfast – anything goes.
- Saturdays are sacred. My husband has “protected Saturdays” at his job, which pretty much means that he’s not supposed to go into the office, and they have to get approval from higher-ups if they require the staff to come in. This doesn’t mean he’s not still monitoring email from his phone (don’t you love the digital age?), but he’s not supposed to be “working”. The struggle is usually between trying to find time to rest and trying to squeeze in family fun time all in a day. Chores and grocery shopping feel like a waste of a sacred day, so I try to mostly get these done during the week. If there is anything that can be put on hold until after Saturday, it pretty much goes on hold. This also means that I will often decline social invites simply because I don’t want to share. This is our time, and we don’t get much of it.
- Daddy is our favorite. The thing about Daddy being gone most of the time is that when Daddy is home, my two-year-old is pretty much attached to him. Honestly, I don’t really mind this. Plus, when it comes time for bedtime, mama is suddenly the favorite again. I know that I can get all the snuggles and boo-boo kisses in that I want during the rest of the week, so I don’t mind when I hear for the 40th time that day, “No, Daddy do it!” Sure, kid, knock yourself out. Tomorrow you’re stuck with mom.
- The 2-year-old knows how to FaceTime. Yes, this one is probably a given. We have a nightly FaceTime date with Daddy, after dinner and before bedtime. Our son is pretty much a pro at holding the smartphone and having a conversation – even if that conversation is about Mickey Mouse. I think it’s good for everybody to have that time to reconnect daily, and we have to get creative to make it happen. It is pretty damn cute seeing them give virtual kisses to each other.
- Mid-week sex feels like a booty-call. I won’t go into details here, because my mother reads my blog. However, let’s just say that, it is important to find time to reconnect with your spouse, too. Just the two of you. When that time is 2 am and you haven’t seen your partner during the light of day in several days, it very much feels like a booty-call. The disappointing thing is that there isn’t alcohol involved and you don’t get to brag to your girlfriends about the bad decision that you made last night.
- You rely on your support system. Speaking of girlfriends! I have a handful of ladies that I can text or call at any hour of the day or night, and if I confess that I’m hiding in my bathroom having a good cry, they aren’t going to judge me. They have been there, too. This is also tough because we are living in a brand-new city. We recently relocated for my husband’s job. So, I’m working on building up this support system here, too. However, I feel very fortunate to be in an amazing neighborhood. I am soon going to be sending the toddler back to preschool very part-time. Also, if all else fails, 20 minutes of Dinotrux to save mom’s sanity is totally worth it.
I absolutely love being a stay-at-home mama right now. For me, I know that it is not a permanent thing, so that helps me enjoy it more, even during the tough times. Eventually I will go back to school (again), and then someday I will decide to work outside of the home, but for right now, it’s magic. I get to be the one to see my kiddo tackle that new playground and concur climbing the slide. I get to be the one stroking their sweet cheeks and playing with their hair. I get to be the one that they are climbing all over asking for the toy or the book or the snack. (The midday naps are a big bonus, too!) Being a stay-at-home parent means that I get to be #1 to them, and I don’t have to worry about somebody else screwing them up. I get to do it myself! 🙂 When my children go to therapy as adults and blame it all on their mother, at least it will probably be accurate.
For us, marriage has been a constant balancing and rebalancing act. I have gone from working full-time and being a part-time student to a full-time student, graduate student and student worker, to a full-time at-home mama. My husband has also gone through his fair share of shifts and job changes, not to mention the recent out-of-state move. We are busy, like many, and mostly I’m so thankful that I’m not doing this parenting thing alone. Even though it is easy to feel like the kids and house are my job while his work is his job, at the end of the day, we are in it together. It’s just that I’m wiping up poop while he’s shaking hands with executives, but hey – every job has its upsides and downsides, right? 😉