My Husband Became A “Stay-At-Home Mom” For A Month. Here’s What Happened
Note: This article was written pre-pandemic. With that being said, this subject seems more relevant now than ever.
Let me preface this article by saying that my husband is the bomb. He has always been nothing but supportive of me and my transition into motherhood and has never given me a hard time over dirty dishes or unwashed laundry. He understands that motherhood is demanding and that being home with a baby doesn’t necessarily mean that I was equipped to take care of all of the household tasks in a timely or orderly fashion. But with that being said, what better way to further a person’s perspective than some first-hand experience. Am I right?
We’re in the midst of an upcoming cross-country move, meaning my husband has an idle month where he is currently in between jobs. I, on the other hand, just recently accepted a new position that is more involved than my prior, more sporadic work commitments. Therefore, we decided that it would be best for him to take over the child-rearing responsibilities temporarily, while I pour myself into my newfound profession. I mean, why pay for daycare when we can pinch some pennies and take advantage of this transitionary period? Thankfully neither of us are too tied up in traditional gender roles, so it seemed like an excellent short term solution to accommodate this temporary season of our lives.
At the beginning of this arrangement, my husband was excited. He adores our daughter, but I think he assumed what every good-intentioned but slightly ignorant father in his shoes would- “how hard can it be?” The first week went well; he was full of energy and happy to shuttle our daughter from place to place and keep her occupied. Our baby was bathed, the house was clean, and he had fun playing chef in the kitchen. The second week went just as well, but I noticed that he began to lose a bit of steam. Understandable. But by the third week? I looked at him and recognized something in his eyes that I have seen in myself and other stay-at-home moms many times. Exhaustion, burnout, unfulfilled needs, and desperate for a break.
I hate to say that I’m glad that my husband got to experience a taste of what my life was like for the past two years that I was a stay-at-home mom, but I am. I think it’s easy to assume that stay-at-home parenthood is leisurely and relaxing, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. Being a stay-at-home parent means that sometimes the clock seems to tick extra slow. It’s struggling to prepare three somewhat nutritious meals per day that your child is actually willing to eat. It’s leaving the house when your baby is bored at home and going home early when they’re no longer willing to behave in public. It’s planning to be productive during nap time, only to collapse in a sluggish stupor at the first opportunity.
Don’t get me wrong. I’m sure there are many moments of being a “stay-at-home mom” that my husband enjoyed, as did I. Still, I think he has a newfound sense of appreciation for what millions of women (and some men) around the world do for their families every day. Being a stay-at-home parent doesn’t mean that you don’t work; it means that you never clock out. There is no sick time off, no paid vacation, and certainly no lunch break. So despite our daughter being the absolute light of our lives, I don’t think dropping her off on her first day of daycare will necessarily be a sad one for either of us. Because the truth is, being a stay-at-home parent isn’t for everyone. And that’s okay too.