For the past 6 years I’ve been a bad mom.
A guilty mom.
I don’t spend enough time with my kids. I don’t do enough home care things. I suck at cleaning and it never gets done. I don’t cook anymore. I don’t bake anymore.
I just stink as a mom.
Six years ago we made a major transition. I went from being a stay-at-home mom to a work-from-home-(often traveling) mom and my husband from full-time military to a full-time-stay-at-home dad. For years we struggled with our reverse roles and, apparently, I still have a few lingering hang ups. I thought I was good, that I’d gotten over the guilt of not being the main caregiver to our children. But…I hadn’t.
Today was a family day -a day off work. We have them twice a week, not consecutive, but finally they are pretty dang set in stone and you don’t mess with family days. My husband was gone the majority of the day and early evening, so it was me and the kids. This, my friends, is a rarity.
When a person is the main caregiver and household organizer, you develop systems. You have a set way of doing things because it brings you sanity through predictability. My dude has systems, and I often mess them up. Just because I don’t know them or I don’t remember. I have long since stopped critiquing his systems and let him be the house/kid boss (as he’s stopped telling me how to run my business.) You learn to stay out of each other’s noses. So, here I was with the three kids and the whole day open.
Without someone else’s toes to step on, I slowly started doing things…that I otherwise would have deferred to my dude. I vacuumed the house. I did the pile of dishes. I know, even as I’m typing this MY eyebrows are getting squiggly, “EVERY woman does these things. You sound like a house pet who doesn’t lift a finger. Sheesh, Kelly.” But wait, wait -there are things that, as you know, if they’re not your agreed upon job and you do them sometimes you get someone’s nose bent out of shape. (They feel inadequate that you stepped in and did something that typically they take care of. Like I was passive-aggressively saying, ‘you don’t do this right or well enough, so let me show you how it’s done.’) So I did them because it was just my nose present. And I lit candles, and played big band music while I cooked dinner. And I COOKED dinner -and lunch- and slowly I began to get that old feeling back of home pride and joy in being a homemaker. Creating ambiance while taking care of my peoples.
*Sigh* I have missed that.
We’re weird. We don’t all eat the same food at meals. The kids pick out their food (a starch/grain and two fruits/veggies) and my husband cooks for himself because he likes to control when he eats and what he eats. So there isn’t an opportunity for someone to cook a traditional family meal. Cooks, that’s a fulfilling thing to do, right? Yeah, sometimes (okay, often) it gets boring day in and day out always having to come up with a meal that you hope *most* of the people at the table will swallow (with noses pinched or not.) But there is a sense of pride and accomplishment that generally comes with, “I made this. It’s for my family. I love them. Now eat, people.”
Too June Cleaver? Maybe…
The whole point is, moms who work full-time and have stay-at-home husbands, I want to encourage you that you aren’t a bad mom because you aren’t the one changing diapers during the day or grocery shopping or playing with the kiddos before and after nap time. You could do it. I forgot that I could do it. That I would enjoy it. And that I am good at it. For years I told myself that I sucked as a mom because that wasn’t my role -full-time nurturer and caregiver- anymore. Yes, I do it before and after work. I do it on days off. But I don’t have any “systems” or moms groups or playdates. There’s a lot that I feel I should have, but don’t, in order to be a good mother. There’s guilt that I’ve “pawned” my job off to somebody else. But you do what works for your family -and this works best for our family right now.
Could I be a full-time mama? Yes. Would I be good at it? You bet your ass. (And I’m mainly saying that to myself, a reminder of truth.)
Today it was beautiful to get to care for my kids and my home and feel that cozy satisfaction and enjoyment. Being the full time caregiver is hard, my friends, I know it. I appreciate the HECK out of my husband for all he does. Still, it’s a primal feeling getting to do what comes naturally -and I am thankful to remember that I don’t suck at being a mom, whether I am working full-time or not.