I work. A lot. Can we talk about that for just a few? I promise it’ll lead to parenthood, just stay with me here.
Let’s jump back to the week after Thanksgiving 2014. I had just been let go from a short stint at a financial firm, was drowning in self-pity, and was eating half my weight in ice cream every night. (Hey, don’t judge. I’m allowed.)
After a few straight weeks of unshowered Netflix binging, my husband returned home from a trip to find me passed out on the couch after some serious nacho demolition.
“Hi. I know you’re in mourning,” he said – somewhat unsympathetically. “I know no one is responding to your resumes. So what? What do you want to do?”
With his direct prodding and sincere encouragement, I started a business. A real grown-up type of business as a freelance graphic designer. I had spreadsheets and everything. Very legit. Now, don’t get me wrong, I kept sending in those resumes. I had virtually zero clients my first year.
Well, flash forward to now. I have enough business that I am able to be the sole provider for our family.
Kevin would argue with this and say that he also contributes financially by selling unused things from our basement. Credit where credit is due, so let me rephrase: I am mostly the sole provider for our family.
This means that I am glued to my computer almost 10 hours a day during the work week and sometimes on the weekend. This means that my stay-at-home husband gets to hang out with our little magic chaos creator. This means that I get to miss her while she’s literally in the same room as me.
Sometimes I hear her cry for me while I’m on the phone with a client, and I just want to “accidentally disconnect” and run to her. Every day, Kevin goes out into the world with her. They go on adventures to the park and the lake and the river. Adventures I’m missing out on. But hey – I get the pictures, so it’s all good, right?
The other night, we woke up to her cries. I’m the nighttime care parent since I’m still nursing, so I went in and got her from her crib. She didn’t want to nurse. She didn’t want to cuddle. She couldn’t be consoled. Finally, Kevin came in. She reached for him, and when he took her, she immediately stopped crying.
Yeah, OK. Cool. Thanks.
I have never been a tender-hearted person, but my feelings get obliterated by her sometimes. I understand that Kevin is the primary care parent. I understand that she’s going to prefer him. But during night shift? That’s my time to shine. That’s where I fix it all with the magic of boobies. And that night, my superpower was broken. It was painful as hell.
I use these times as reminders that Kevin deserves a trophy. Not only is he doing an incredible job raising our kid (she can now do some tricks), but he manages a lot of the household. Cooking, laundry, vacuuming. He also takes care of our car inspections and the leaky toilets and manages our finances.
Wow, it sounds like I do absolutely nothing in our home.
I do try to help out where I can. Before pregnancy was even a possibility, I read this very, very, very sad (did I mention it was sad?) letter from a woman to her husband about him never helping out around the house. Not only did she raise the kids, but she did everything in the home as well.
I did NOT want to be that partner, so I make a conscious effort to 1/thank Kevin all the time, 2/do the dishes, 3/sweep a million times a day, 4/do the bathroom and kitchen deep cleans, and most importantly 5/ask if there’s anything else I can do that day.
Truth talk: I don’t want to. I don’t want to do any of it. I am exhausted at the end of the day. Between my time with the baby and work hours, it’s a 16+ hour day. But the lightbulb for me happened when I read that letter years ago: the stay-at-home parent is also exhausted. (Imagine me miming my brain exploding with hands going outward and all that.)
Realistically, that stay-at-home parent is probably even more exhausted than the working parent. Have you ever read “Hair Love” 62 times in one day? Kevin did. Bless that man. I would have lost that book under the bookshelf.
When the baby hurts my feelings because she prefers her dad, it makes me realize how lucky I am to have such a great partner in my life. It makes me stop during the workday to read books, enjoy a family lunch, or chase my daughter around the house for a little bit. My hurt feelings make me break at night so I can have a few hours with the kid before she goes to bed and I go back to work.
I try harder to be a more present parent because I realize that time is fleeting. And if I have any hope of being her favorite at any point in the future, I better start working on it now – even if that means a dropped call every now and then.