I owe an apology to women everywhere. Specifically, to Stay-At-Home Moms.
I used to be like a lot of men who have this notion that mothers who stay home with the kids all day are either not pulling their weight, or are just sitting around doing nothing the entire day. In the past, I would often get agitated with my wife when certain things around the house didn’t get done by the time I got home from work. I was guilty of thinking more than once that “it must be nice to sit around all day and watch TV”.
How wrong was I? Dead wrong.
Fast forward a few years. My wife is now the one of us that goes to an office all day, and I’m now the stay at home dad. At first, I thought it would be a breeze and I’d get things around the house on a better, more efficient system. In fact, one of the first things I did as a stay at home dad was completely rearrange the cabinets and the fridge. I had everything in the fridge lined up, labels facing out, broken down by type of food, condiments, etc. and I was extremely proud of myself.
Wanna know what my fridge looks like today?
I got off to a really good start, and thought I could carry on that momentum of keeping the house clean, doing laundry, and having dinner on the table when my wife got home from work. Well, I was able to do that for about a week, and now, looking back, I’m not entirely sure how it lasted as long as it did.
You see, I never factored in the roadblocks and daily challenges that come along with being at home with the kids all day long. So, I will break down a more accurate account of my day to show you what I mean…
6:00 AM: I get up, get my wife coffee, get my son in the shower, get his bag packed, make sure his homework is done, and make sure his teeth are brushed.
6:45 AM: I take my son to the bus stop.
7:01 AM: I walk through the door just in time to hear my three year old whining and crying, begging for pancakes and juice. She likes to eat breakfast in bed, while watching her shows on TV.
7:02 AM: She gets her pancakes and juice and I usually get a thumbs up for approval from my daughter, but not always.
7:15 AM: I THINK about taking a shower. I can’t.
7:30 AM: The wife leaves for work.
7:30 AM – 9:00 AM: This block of time is really up in the air. Sometimes I get back in bed with the girls for a while. If I don’t get in bed with them, they get up at 7:30 A.M, and to be honest, I just can’t deal with two girls and all the drama that comes with them when they are exhausted beyond belief and cranky by noon because they got up so early. Plus I work every night until midnight and sometimes I need the extra sleep. However it’s not always restful when every 15 minutes I’m being kicked, rolled on, jumped on, headbutted or asked for a pacifier.
9:00 AM: I get a request (they think I’m a servant from their favorite restaurant called ‘Daddy’s Cafe’) from my three year old that she wants “Chicken Nuggets and Juice”. After telling her it’s too early for Chicken and Juice, she immediately throws down a five minute tantrum until…*drum roll please*… SHE GETS CHICKEN NUGGETS AND JUICE. She leaves me no tip.
9:05 AM: I try and sit on the couch with my laptop in a feeble attempt at trying to get some work done.
9:06 AM: My 18 month old is now eating chicken nuggets and drinking juice while sitting on my head.
9:15 AM: I brush chicken crumbs from my hair and off of the couch. Sometimes she eats granola bars, and cleaning that up is an entirely different animal.
9:17 AM: Diaper change.
9:20 AM: I sit back down on the couch.
9:21 AM: I’m requested to turn on Sponge Bob SquarePants. (The Splinter episode – I like how they request certain episodes now.)
10:30 AM: The 18 month old naps while the three year old watches TV, plays with her toys, and asks me a question every 20 seconds.
10:35 AM: I finally take a shower.
10:45 AM: Diaper change (the stinky kind).
11:00 AM – 12:00 PM: I manage to sit down and get a few things done for work.
NOTE: It is now NOON and not one ounce of housework has been done.
12:00 – 12:30 PM: The kids eat lunch (surprise-more chicken!) while I do a modest attempt at trying to keep the kitchen clean while cooking their seven-course meal.
12:30 P.M – 2:00 PM: I finally get to clean the kitchen and do some laundry. If I’m lucky, I get to pick up some of the 19,000+ toys and blocks laying on the living room floor. I’m super lucky if I can get through the living room without stepping on one of those extremely sharp toys that toy companies think are safe to sell to children. It’s like walking through a field of landmines, in a house full of hostile terrorists.
2:00 PM – 2:30 PM: I get the girls dressed so we can walk down to the bus stop. Yes, THEY ARE STILL IN THEIR PAJAMAS.
2:30 – 3:00 PM: The girls play at the bus stop waiting for their brother to get off the bus.
3:00 – 4:00 PM: The girls lay down for naps, while my son goes to his room. The kitchen is a disaster again from him getting out snacks and exploring the cabinets. Sometimes I manage to take this hour for myself to catch up on some work, but not always.
4:00 – 5:00 PM: I referee my son and daughter while they argue and fight over various, pointless issues including territory of the house.
Son: “Dad get SYD out of my room, she’s touching my important stuff!”
Daughter: “No, I’m not!”
Son: “Yes, you are, Syd! You are touching all my important computer stuff and making noises!”
Me: “Sydney, are you making noises?”
Daughter: Nods her head.
Me: “Why, are you just trying to annoy him?”
Daughter: Giggles “yes”
5:00 PM – 6:00 PM: I help my son with his homework, clean the house, sweep the floors, cook dinner.
6:00 PM: Wife gets home, and we eat dinner. Most days, I’m too exhausted to go into much detail of how the day went, and sometimes I’m so frustrated that I eat dinner on the front porch, alone.
NOTE: This is on a GOOD day.
Every given day is different. I didn’t add in the sick days, the one hour melt downs, the various random messes, the errands, the castles I have to build out of blocks, the shampoo I have to clean off the floor, the dish-washing detergent that I have to clean out of the dog’s water dish, refolding the clean laundry that the kids have strewn all over the house, the pee puddles that I have to clean up from when the baby rips off her diaper and pees on the kitchen floor, the baths I have to give mid-day because one of them thought it would be funny to splash around in a mud puddle, the re-hanging of curtains that the kids have ripped from the walls, putting drawers back into the dressers that they’ve pulled out and slid around the house like cars, and so forth and so on.
So whomever gets home from work, whether it be the husband or the wife, they have no idea what their spouse has been through during the day. The other day, for example, my wife gets home from work and I’m outside in the driveway letting the girls play. It was a beautiful day and I was sitting in a lawn chair just watching the girls. She gets out of the car and asks “What about dinner?” I told her that I was waiting for her to get home so the girls could play outside and she looks at me and says, and I quote:
“What is going on with you lately?”
REALLY!?! I just spent 12 hours with three monsters all day long and I take a few minutes to myself to get some fresh air and when my wife gets home, that’s the first thing I hear?
So, in closing, I sincerely apologize to any and every woman I’ve ever said anything negative about, or joked about in regards to being a stay at home mom. It’s not easy. In fact it’s the hardest job I’ve ever had.
A Stay At Home Dad