I am just going to admit it, I’ve been in a slump. I can’t call it writer’s block because I actually CAN think of topics to write about, but it is the actually writing process that I am having a problem with. I am going to attribute it to the craziness that has been my life the past two weeks with back to school, starting back to work, and trying to find our “schedule”. I know, excuses, excuses. Well, I decided to take it to my friends, so I asked on Facebook on Sunday what the people who read what I have to say on a regular basis want me to write about. I had great responses to my request, enough that I think I shall deem this Facebook week here on the ol blog. The comment with the most “likes” (over 60 at last look) was from Andrea and this is what she wants to know:
I must first say that I will not refer to moms or dads, only partners, during this post because I have gotten to know quite a few stay at home dads that work their asses off on a daily basis as well. When thinking about how to attack this post I kept thinking about my This Journey Called Motherhood post from last month. I think it is so hard for us stay at home spouses to juggle it all. Cooking, cleaning, homework, changing diapers, take one kid here, take one kid there, pay the bills, you know what I mean. It seems as if the list never ends. I decided, for just a minute, take that list and forget about it. Now imagine that you are the one getting up every morning. You leave behind your little people and your home, and you head to a job that at least 3 out of 5 days you do not enjoy but you go to because your family is depending on you for survival. If it isn’t for that job you have no home, no food, no car, no money. The pressure is really on.
For me, I will take the cleaning and the “menial” work that comes with staying home over the pressure of providing all the financial support for my family. I know how stressed Farmer Bob gets at times, especially since we have been in a drought, and I feel so stressed for him. I would understand to a point why he would need a day on the weekend to decompress, but he also understands to a point why I need the same thing. It wasn’t always this way. We have had our moments of disagreement and selfishness, but we have learned that parenting is also a sacrifice. Parenthood is such a learning process and I can remember Farmer Bob and I having this same lively discussion about who really needs a “day off”.
When you bring home that first baby, you have this picture of perfection in your mind. I will wake up every morning with a smile on my face, send my spouse off to work with a kiss and a smile just like a 1950′s housewife. I will spend my day teaching my baby everything he needs to know and when he naps I will clean the house, do the laundry, and cook supper. HAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!! Seriously, those pregnancy hormones can do crazy shit to your brain. Those first few months when baby sleeps most of the time and you actually do get things accomplished are so deceiving. Before you know it all hell breaks loose and you realize that maybe, just maybe, raising this little person is not always going to be all peaches and cream and that you can NOT do it alone. You find yourself deeply conflicted about your decision to stay home and raise the babies.
Not only are you learning how to be a stay at home parent, but your spouse is learning how to be a working parent as well. They are learning how to balance being gone all day and playing catch up when they get home. I don’t know this for a fact, but I would imagine that there would be a small amount of guilt felt by them for missing out on all the things that we stay at home parents get to witness. Those first smiles, those first giggles, those first steps, that first time they find a pair of scissors and cut out a chunk of hair. Just as we have moments of jealousy that they get to leave the house ALONE every day, they have those same moments when they walk out the door. Maybe not every day, like when the kids are screaming at each other as they are heading out, but I am sure that they have them. You will never know if you never ask.
Your partner, the financial provider, goes to work every day. They have no idea what you do while they are gone they just know that they come home, the house is clean, dinner is cooking, and they have clean clothes to wear. They have no concept of exactly what type of miracles you had to perform in order to do those tasks. Communication is key in sharing with them exactly what it took to get it all done. They don’t know that you had to hold a screaming baby in one hand while running the vacuum with the other. They don’t know that you had to keep a busy toddler from throwing all the laundry on the floor before, and after, you had a chance to fold it. They don’t know that you were busy body blocking the kids from touching the oven while trying not to burn the hamburger you had cooking on the stove. Your partner will most likely tell you about their day, shouldn’t you tell them about yours?
Parenthood is such an ever evolving process. Just when you think you have found your “comfort zone” something changes. A new job, a new milestone, a new baby. Communication is essential to your emotional survival. If you cannot communicate about how stressed you are and how you need a “day off” as well, your relationship and your kids are going to suffer. Yes, it is so important for both partners to have time alone. I look forward to it, even if it is just to go grocery shopping or to go to school to volunteer. When I am gone, I find myself looking forward to returning home…later.
More importantly, it is imperative for you to say to your partner; hey, I know you are tired after a long week of working, I’ve had a long week too. How about we go do something as a family to unwind? Go to the park, go to the zoo, just go out and do something that you all enjoy. You may be surprised how quickly both of you forget about how stressful your week was and exactly how wonderful your family is.