Due to a few unforeseen circumstances, Cameron has not been able to go to daycare at all this week. And except for today, Dan has been at home with Cameron each day. Now, on Monday, both of us were pretty sick, but since then, I’ve been at work and Dan has been playing Stay-At-Home-Dad.
On the first day he and Cameron were alone I got a note from my husband letting me know that I needed to ask for a raise. In fact, 200% would be sufficient to allow Dan to become a stay-at-home Daddy. He figured that this was his new calling.
Although I loved being home with Cameron, I can’t begin to describe how my heart overflowed as I called home and found out just how much my husband and son were enjoying their time together. Together, they tried new foods (chicken nuggets, peanut butter, Oreos…). Together, they played at a park. Together, they made Jello. Together, they laughed and played and changed diapers and snuggled.
I was so thrilled that my husband was experiencing the joy that I felt for the past year.
But I was very
interested in what happened when I was home.
When I got home in the evenings, I usually started dinner while my husband went to lay down. I made dinner, hung out with Cameron, fed him, got him ready for bed, and then did the dishes. And when Cameron woke up in the middle of the night, I was usually the first to get up and be with him. (It is important to note here that Dan had dinner ready last night when I got home from work. And two nights ago, he got up with Cameron at 5:30am while I continued to sleep.)
Now, Dan still hasn’t fully recovered from his flu earlier in the week. And trust me, I know how tiring it is to be home with a baby all day. When I started doing the stay-at-home thing, I wasn’t able to do anything but take care of our son. Dan would come home and cook, clean, and wait on me hand and foot.
But as time went on, we would butt heads about our roles. As a stay-at-home Mom, shouldn’t I be responsible for cooking and cleaning too? I mean I was home all day. Was it really fair for me to expect him not to need a break when he got home from a full day of work? And of course it was my job to get up with the baby in the middle of the night since I did not have to get up for work first thing in the morning.
Sometimes, this would be fine with me. But sometimes, I would feel like this wasn’t fair. My day was always tiring too. I felt like Dan had no idea just how many times I put away toys, how many tantrums I listened to, how much pee I held in until I found an available moment, and how exhausted I was from waking up so much each night.
But you know what is hard? Being critical without sounding ungrateful. Because even though I sometimes felt like my job was being devalued, I didn’t want to devalue my husband’s job. I didn’t want to undermine how hard it was to do what he did daily.
Sometimes this got better. And sometimes we both got frustrated at each other.
So when I came home to an exhausted Dad who just wanted to crash in bed, I didn’t mind making dinner. When we both woke up in the morning exhausted from being up with our son, I didn’t mind doing the first diaper change of the day.
But I did feel vindicated. Now you understand! I told him.
Yeah. He understands.
Being a stay-at-home parent may be more enjoyable than being a working parent, but it is in no way easier.
We’re a team. We’ve always been a team. And now, we have strengthened that team.
I think it is normal to expect some unequal division of labour and expectations between new parents. It is difficult to understand what the other parent is experiencing and impossible to avoid conflict. But Moms, trust me on this one, if you want your husband to know what you’re going through, let him do it for a week. Jump into each others’ shoes. And remember that you’re a team. A parenting team. A rockstar team.
This week, my husband and I reversed roles. This week, Dan jumped into my shoes. This week, I am so proud of Cameron’s Daddy.