From the time they were brought home from the hospital I was with them. If you count the nine months they were in my stomach, I was with them from conception. The only exception being my oldest daughter who was born premature and had to spend a little time in the nicu unit. I got to be the first one they saw when they woke up, and the last one they saw when going to sleep. My voice was the one that comforted them when they were hurt, and sung them to sleep during nap time. I got to see their first steps, first crawl (my second daughter walked before she crawled), and I got to hear their first words. I cleaned the house when I could. But with children under a certain age it is hard to get their attention away from you long enough for you to do something they can’t help you with. So often enough, one thing or the other would be left for the next day and so forth.
My husband would come home from work and tell me that he didn’t think I did anything that day. I would tell him what I did and he would think that the kids didn’t require that much attention. He thought they only slept and ate and cried. My oldest was colicky and I stayed up with her most of the night and walked her outside so that he could sleep for his morning shift. He didn’t understand why I was always so tired. He thought I slept when he did, but in the other room with the baby. Every time I tried to tell him what it was like, he would say he didn’t believe me. Then I got pregnant with our second child, and when I went into the hospital, he was the only one to take care of her. He had to stay home the few days I was in the hospital to take care of our oldest. The second night, he visited me at the hospital and told me he finally understood. He was telling me how our daughter would follow him everywhere and ask for one thing or another and wouldn’t let him have a moments peace.
I almost laughed at him and said I told you so. But I knew that would get me in more trouble in the long run. After a few months of being home with our second child, he started in on not understanding again. He tried to get me to spend time for myself during the day, couldn’t understand that I didn’t really have time for myself. Not with the cleaning that needed to be done during nap time, the playtime with the kids, the trying to get the kids to help pick up their toys when they really wanted to play with them. Trying to get the kids to keep the mashed potatoes in their mouth and not transfer them to their hair. Trying to keep boo-boos from becoming hospital visits, trying to keep up with the vaccinations required by law that the kids have.
Then he got sick, and had to stop working. I had to go from stay at home mom to working mom in an instant. He had to go from working dad to stay at home dad in that same instant. Luckily, I have a job that is a regular schedule and I can still come home for lunch and see my family as much as possible. My husband finally realizes how much work goes into being a stay at home parent. Keeping the kids from killing themselves with eagerness to please and play.
When I try to explain to people that I preferred being a stay at home mom to a working mom, people think I’m crazy. Especially in this economy. They think being a stay at home mom is boring, with nothing to do but housework. When I was a stay at home mom, the only things that I regretted were not being able to help with the bills, and having minimum human contact, because we really aren’t social people. Our kids are getting to be school age now, though, and with that coming, they are sure to make friends that they will want to come over, who will have parents that my husband and I will need to get along with so that our kids could be happy. I loved spending time with my kids. I loved being the ones to teach my kids things. I regret that being a working mom, I’m too tired to do much except cuddle with them every now and then on my work days. And on my days off I try to help my husband with the housework because I remember what it was like to get housework fully done being a stay at home mom and I want to help him. I appreciate that he is willing to stay at home and watch the kids as I did. I appreciate that he cooks meals for us (he used to be a chef before his forced retirement due to health), and I want to say thank you, so I help around the house as much as I can.
Unfortunately, as much as I want to play with the kids and spend time with them, I don’t have the energy that I had when I was in high school and run off of three hours of sleep without a backward glance. However, they do, which makes the job as a parent, whether mom or dad, that much more taxing, both enjoyably so and regrettably so.