Monday, August 25, 2014

The Pretend Stay at Home Mom

You'll find me at the park on a sunny weekday morning chasing my toddler around while my baby snoozes in the carrier. Or you'll find me walking the mall on a rainy afternoon, the kids and I feeling cooped up needing to get out of the house. I definitely look the part; no make-up, yoga pants, v-neck and flip flops, holding my coffee in one hand pushing a stoller in the other. I can talk about picky eaters, lack of sleep and potty training with the rest of them. But the one conversation I don't join in is when the rest of them talk about waiting for their husbands to get home. Then they'll finally get a break from the kids, maybe even get a shower in. I can't relate to that.

You see, I'm a pretend stay at home mom. I'm the one giving my husband a break, giving him some down time away from the kids. Because once Saturday comes around, it's PowerPoint presentations, meetings and communication plans. It's when I become a working mom again. I say I'm a pretend stay at home mom because my family is in a unique situation. I work Saturday-Monday nights and my husband is the one that stays at home. I get the opportunity to do most things stay at home moms do during the week but still have a full-time job. 

My schedule means my family also has a four day weekend all the time. That's four days we are together going on adventures or just getting caught up at home. In theory, it sounds great. And 99% of the time it is great. I'm grateful to have this time at home with my kids while they are so young. I'm home with them the majority of the time which is amazing. 

When I found out I was pregnant with E, Mike and I never talked about one of us staying home. We just planned on sending the baby to daycare. That's what our parents did so naturally so would we. Mike became a stay at home dad by default, the program he worked for was cut and so was Mike's job. E was just two months old when Mike became a stay at home dad. I don't think either of us thought it would be a permanent gig. But over the past two years that I've been a parent, I realized it's important to me that my children are being raised by an at home parent. I know that situation doesn't work for every family nor does every family feel the same way. So as long as we can financially handle living on one income, one of us will stay home with our kids.

They say the grass is always greener on the other side and that's how I feel when it comes to Mike and my parenting roles. I don't want to be the pretend stay at home mom, I want to be THE stay at home mom. Never in a million years did I ever think I would feel that way. I've been so focused on my career for years, working long hours and stressing myself out to get ahead. But now what I want is to stay home with my two little ones and run our household. I dream of switching places with Mike and I admit, I'm jealous that he gets to do what I want to do.

I'd be lying if I said my jealousy didn't cause stress on our marriage, it does. Mike feels guilty because he knows how badly I want to stay home. He also gets frustrated with me because he thinks I see his role as fun and glamorous. Which I admit, I probably do look at staying home through rose tinted glasses. I'm sure the days are long and can get lonely. I hear the other stay at home moms at the park, counting the hours until evening when their husbands will be home to help out. But I don't care, I'll take the long lonely days over the endless emails and those PowerPoint presentations any day.

Maybe someday I'll get my chance to be the stay at home mom. However, if that opportunity never comes, I know my children are in the best hands possible. They are with their stay at home daddy and for the time being, I will be content being the pretend stay at home mom.

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