My husband and I are struggling to see eye to eye on what I like to call the Equitable Division of Responsibility. This argument also masquerades under the unfortunate aliases of Why Are You Home From Work So Late?, Whose Fault is it the Kids are Late for Basketball?, and the real gut-kicker, What Exactly Do You Do All Day? We've been having these discussions since I had our first child six years ago and chose not to renew my contract as a special education teacher.
Being a stay-at-home mom is a double edged sword. In exchange for a complete disregard for privacy, I get the gift of time with my children. In exchange for the loss of a guaranteed shower, I get the flexibility to set up playdates for my kids (which of course are also playdates for me). In exchange for sitting in carpool lines four times a day, I get to participate in my kids' school parties and field trips. Now in my opinion, a working parent functions on an exchange system, too. In exchange for putting in a full stressful day at the office, Jason gets the liberty of riding in a car alone with no one screaming or fighting and with the radio blasting something other than the Laurie Berkner Band.
He also gets a guaranteed shower and can put on snazzy work clothes every morning. Okay, fine. I only envy the nice clothes thing every once in a while. My jeans and T-shirt days are kind of awesome. Tonight he was ever so bold as to tell me I looked like a "mom." What?!! "Like a pretty mom" was tagged on at the end when my face very clearly conveyed how I felt about being told I looked like a mom. I mean, my hair looked a little rough, but it's not like I was rocking Mom Jeans. But I digress...In exchange for doing something he loves and which supports our family, Jason misses out on some really good stuff with the kids. He counts on me to make up for that, but it doesn't always ease the guilt a parent feels when he wants to be there for his kids more than he is able.
We may always have discussions over which parent bears a bigger burden, especially when one or both of is stressed or not feeling well. The truth is, I know how hard Jason works, and I believe he knows how hard I work, too. We've tried being a two income family, and it just didn't really work for us. I've swallowed the last of my feminist pride and embraced the fact we're happier as a family when I'm in a traditional role as "housewife." Neither of us wants to switch places with the other, but it still seems we're always looking for that perfect division of responsibility that leaves the other feeling validated and supported. Basically, I will always envy his ability to interact with adults on a daily basis, and he will probably always envy the flexibility of my schedule a little bit. Despite this fact, I still love him in the same stupid, sappy chick flick way I have for ten years. I'd say that's a pretty big accomplishment for a married couple with four little monkeys bouncing off of us every day.