Just once I’d like Ian to be the one to get Aiden out the door for school (on time) all the while trying to keep the other two boys in bed so he can get some more sleep because the little ones wouldn’t go to bed until early in the morning. On that day, I’d send him a text message 10 minutes before his alarm goes off and continue to send them until his alarm does go off. Maybe, just maybe, the baby will be up before Aiden is out the door so he’ll have to stay up anyway. And on that day, Liam will be a sick, clingy, cranky-pants who will want his father to do nothing AND everything all at the same time and will probably yell about everything while refusing to nap or eat. Then I will come home after dinner has been served, gobble it down and run away to another room all the while complaining about how I need to unwind – keep the kids away – because it was such a stressful day. I may or may not help to get the kids ready for bed and then, when he’s completely exhausted, I’ll tell him that I have to go to bed because I have to get up in the morning and he can handle the two kids that are still awake because they’re “almost asleep” anyway.
I take it back, just once isn’t enough. It needs to be weeks on end until his version of a break is only having to deal with one kid instead of two or three and he doesn’t know how he can not get everything done because it’s all simple housework.
This may seem selfish of me. Why should I wish my daily routine on anyone, especially when his job truly is stressful? The truth is, I’ve been told more than once that parenting is a 24/7 job. I have no problem with this particular truth. The problem is that it appears to be MY 24/7 job and he gets away with a 40-48h a week job with a couple hours of parenting added in here and there. Why is this a problem? Because if I had a 40-48 hour a week job, I’d STILL be responsible for the majority of the remainder of the 24/7 that wasn’t spent in daycare…and he’s the one telling me that parenting is a 24/7 job (just not his job).
I know mothers today have it way better than our own mothers 2-3 decades ago, but that still doesn’t mean that there isn’t room for improvement. Consider a typical “Daddy takes care of the baby” moment in our house: Ian sits in front of the TV watching whatever he wants with the baby in his arms…I’m doing dishes (or making beds, or folding laundry, or making dinner, or trying to get Liam in bed, or – on the rare occasion – having a shower). When Callan gets fussy, his father brings him up and practically throws him at my chest saying, “I think he’s hungry.” I respond with, “He needs a diaper change.” Ian sighs before actually changing the diaper. The only time he changes Callan’s diaper is when I explicitly tell him that it needs to be done and then refuse to take the baby from him so I can finish doing the housework that I gave the baby away for in the first place.
I love my kids, I truly do, but every stay at home parent will probably hit a moment when he or she realizes that being with your children 24/7 is draining and that a break can do a world of wonders. Right about now, after a week of sick kids, I need one of those wonders. The best I’ve gotten recently was taking Liam to preschool and leaving Callan with his father, having only Callan in the house when the two older boys were at school, and walking to Aiden’s parent-teacher interview…with Aiden. Sooner or later, I’m going to burn out and then, no matter how much I love my kids, I may not appreciate them as much as I should.
So, give me that day where I can leave the house and not worry about being back at a specific time. I’ll take the shopping trip where I can buy whatever I want and not worry about who sees it. I would love that hour in a coffee shop or two in a movie theater (that isn’t playing a kid’s movie) or even having a nice long (uninterrupted) chat with someone who has basic grammar down. I need to stop thinking about superheroes and start thinking about anything that will prevent me from becoming the parent zombie that I can feel coming on.
I’ll take any and all suggestions on how to keep oneself sane when spending days on end with children and not getting a decent break.