Sunday, July 31, 2011

The Ups and Downs of (Gender)Role Reversals

For those of you regular readers, you know that my family is currently rocking out a role reversal of sorts, where my husband is a stay-at-home-dad and I work full time. "Why?" you may ask. The answer to that is basically just that with my Masters degree, I currently have more earning potential that my husband and this non-traditional flip allows him to attend school and watch Everleigh while I work. He's not laid up on the couch eating bon bons ether ;) For those of you stay-at-home moms, you KNOW that it's tough work.

Most of the time, I enjoy our arrangement. I get to spend time with Ev in the mornings, I come home for lunch every day (we live 2 blocks from my work), and when I get home she's all mine til bedtime (and usually throughout the night at least a couple times). From 8:30-noon and 1-4:30PM, I get to be a grown up and do grown up things at my job (I'm currently a wellness coach/therapist at an outpatient behavioral health agency).

The pro's:
  • When I get home, the house is always clean (Scott, you are kind of OCD, but you ROCK!)
  • I know my daughter is home all day with someone who loves her, plays with her, and teaches her things.
  • She misses me while I'm away and is always excited when I come home. It's nice to have that :)
  • It's free. Kind of. In theory.
  • I get to further my career and be a grown up while still having plenty of time with my girl
The cons:
  • There is literally no space in there for a break. Not to take a bath, go to the bathroom, go to happy hour, go to the CVS for a leisurely stroll. None. From the second I wake up to the second I fall asleep I am needed by my daughter or a client. Sometimes both at once.
  • If I'm really honest about it, sometimes I'm envious of my husband and the time he gets to spend with Ev. I know his job is also very difficult, but the grass is always greener, right?
  • Having to "ask" me for money (he doesn't really have to but usually does) and explain our arrangement to other people sometimes makes my husband feel bad. When he isn't happy, nobody's happy.
  • When I have a rough day at work, I still have to muster up the energy to play with Ev until she falls asleep (sometimes at 8, sometimes at 10:30 depending on how much she fights bedtime).
  •  We both feel overworked all the time. But maybe that's normal for parents? I'm new to this still.
  • When my husband goes back to school later this month, he'll be pulling two 12-hour school days a week and watching her the other 3 days. I'll be working full-time and juggling her alternate care (Grandpa and a Mother's Day Out program 1 day a week), then watching her alone most nights while he's in night school. Which means we will basically have 0 time for each other.
Whenever I feel stressed about money and time and lack of energy and EVERYTHING, I always think of you amazing single moms out there. I'm really not sure how you guys do it, but hats off!

I guess I just wrote this because I know I am SO blessed to have my daughter at home with daddy full time. However, you never really hear an open honest reflection of what that's like for the working/bread-winning mom. It's great in some ways and kind of awful in others. Yes, you're working, but to your kid, you are also Mom and that doesn't go away or lessen or get easier just because you see them less. I think us 21st Century girls really bit a lot off! 

That said, I think it's great that gender roles are changing. That regardless of who works when and pays which bill, most couples are approaching child-rearing from a loving and pro-active standpoint. Everleigh thinks it's awesome that Daddy is home with her all the time. I just hope someday other people will too :)


Anonymous said...

Starting tomorrow, Russell and I will be in your shoes. He will be staying home with the girls, and doing side jobs on nights and weekends, while he continues to look for the right full time gig. Being parents and spouses is never perfect. We all do the best we can, and hope we have made the right choices for our families.

Erika said...

Well good luck to you AND to Russell :) it takes a special man to make it work, and Russell seems like a really great father. Thanks for the encouraging's nice to know other people are still trying to figure it all out too :)