I know you’ve all been waiting with bated breath to hear about The Phone Conversation. You’ve lain awake at night wondering what could possibly have been said that has me searching for some way to write about it without complaining about the person on the other end of the line. I hate to let you down, but things are about to get very anti-climactic.
Suffice it to say that during our chat, my husband said something that got my feathers ruffled. And so, in my typical non-confrontational form, I stewed over it without saying anything to him. Then I let it simmer without saying anything to him. And then I cooled off and realized that I didn’t need to say anything to him because the problem wasn’t with him. It was with me and the way I perceive my role in our family.
I think most moms will agree that motherhood is a full-time job. And by full-time I mean 24/7: days, nights, weekends, holidays, leap years, full moons, new moons, in sickness and in health, etc etc. There was one memorable winter when a horrific stomach bug slammed our entire family simultaneously (the boys were down with it for two whole weeks, but that’s another story). I remember being in the middle of a diaper change, holding Samuel down on the changing table with one hand while I held the bucket I was puking in with the other hand. Ahh, the joys of motherhood. We don’t even get sick days. But I digress.
Most of the time I’m happy with my 24/7 role. I’ve always been a homebody and I’ve always wanted to have kids, so being a stay-at-home mom is the perfect fit for me. That being said, I also find it a luxury to go grocery shopping by myself because being with three pint-sized cuties all the time who rely on me for pretty much everything can be… Tiring? Overwhelming? Overstimulating? (Just insert your own word here; I’m sure you have one).
So this brings me to the whole point of why I’m writing. It occurred to me that if my husband needs or wants to do something outside the house, he simply tells me that he’s going to do it. If I need or want to do something outside of the house, I ask if I can do it. Now don’t get all women’s lib on me. I’m not a suppressed little housewife and he doesn’t make me feel like that. I can guarantee that if I told Eric that there was something that I needed to do, he would say, ‘Okay, go do it.” without a second thought. But for whatever reason I always feel like I need to ask him first.
And I don’t stop there. Along with feeling like I have to ask permission, I also feel the need to rush and hurry while I’m out so that I can get home as soon as possible. Truth be told, there’s part of me that feels like my husband is sitting at home checking his watch every five minutes wondering when I’m gonna get home already. Is that the reality? Nah. He’s probably too busy holding the baby so she won’t scream (she might be a tiny bit spoiled) while trying to keep the older two from maiming each other. Even so, I still fly through my errands in record time.
I guess what it boils down to is that although I understand the non-stop nature of parenting, it irritates me that I don’t fully enjoy myself when I’m away from my kids. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I’m a better mom when I get time to ‘recharge’. So why don’t I take full advantage of the little time away from them that I get? Fellow moms, I want to hear from you! Can you relax and enjoy your time without the kids or are you like me? Is it different for moms who work outside the home? Moms with older kids, does it change as your kids grow?
Of course as I’ve been thinking about all of this, I’ve been wondering how my husband perceives his role in the family. Does he feel like he needs to ask me before he goes out? Does he feel guilty while he’s gone or worry about me checking the clock? The short answers are no, it depends, and no. The guilt thing is the big one for him. Since he works full-time, he doesn’t get to be with the kids as much as I do. When he’s out, he’s feeling like he should be home, not just because he feels bad, but because he truly misses them and wants to spend time with them.
So men, while I want to hear from your wives, I want to hear from you too. I’m curious about how you perceive your role. Do you spend less time on hobbies and more time at home since having kids? Do you ask your wife before going out? Is there such a thing as Daddy guilt, and if so, do you have it?
While I’m waiting for you all to share your perspectives with me, I think I’ll head into town and attempt to do some leisurely, guilt-free shopping. Yeah right. How about I take an extra five minutes to browse at my favorite store? Hey, you gotta start somewhere.