I’ve been seeing a lot of posts lately dedicated to the delicate relationship between Moms who work outside of the house, and Moms who work inside of the house. Folks are working hard to validate BOTH choices, both positions. As a Mama who does a little bit of both, I appreciate the nod. I’ve amened aloud, clapped myself on the back, re-posted little truth nuggets about how this was the best choice for our family. But, in every post there’s something missing. Like, an entire person.
Rich and I are equal partners. We make sure of it. That’s not just about generating income. He works full-time hours outside of the home, I work a little over part-time. It’s not just about household chores, either. I do the grocery shopping and the cooking, he does the dishes and the laundry. I do the bills and the household management, he scrubs the tub and the toilets. Our equal partnership runs right into how we parent- together.
As soon as Rich walks in the backdoor after work, he doesn’t take a ten minute break to re-adjust to being a Husband and a Papa. He walks right into it, as though it was what he was waiting for all day. Because it is. He calls during the day to check-in. To ask what Ellie ate for lunch- if she had gone to the bathroom yet, if her tummy ache went away. He requests pictures for every outing, facetiming in so we could share a moment over an ice cream sundae or a day at the zoo. It grieves him to not be with Ellie when she has to go to the doctor when she’s sick or to see how much she’s grown. If I need to go in to work and a babysitter we trust is unavailable, he’ll take the scrutiny that comes with coming home half day so that we’re not faced with the choice of leaving her with someone she doesn’t know. He buys her clothes, sings her to sleep and is, 80 percent of the time, the parent who goes in to sit with her for hours in the middle of the night when she cannot sleep, only to get up at 6 am to take an hour bus ride to a job he hates, but keeps, because it provides. He is her Papa. Her everything. And his heart hurts that he cannot be with her all day. That other people are in the photographs I send to him celebrating her gym graduation, or a friend’s birthday party. He gets no time to himself because he chooses us, whenever he can. He is her Father and he longs to be with her. With us.
We forget that. As a people, as a society, we assume Dads are grabbing their bags as fast as they can out the door to go their offices in peace, where there are lunch breaks and air conditioning and adult conversations. Some of them are. But not all of them. Lets not overlook how it might affect our Dads whose hearts ache when they leave their family in the morning, and don’t feel whole again until they come home. How it’s hard work just to get up and out the door, leaving everything you love behind to spend the day elsewhere. The love of family, the weight of child-rearing, the depth of responsibility is not on Moms alone.