Thursday, May 29, 2014

Role Reversal

Gender roles play a huge part in the make-up of "the family." Typically, the man/husband/father is responsible for working outside the home, providing financially, taking out the trash, yard work, etc. The woman/wife/mother is typically responsible for taking care of household chores and all things having to do with the kids. This works in some families, but not always in others. It turns out in my family there is a bit of a role reversal.

My husband has the privilege of being able to work primarily from home. When he first got the position he was overjoyed because it meant less time wasted due to commuting, more money saved on gas and the freedom of autonomy. Who wouldn't want that? But, it wasn't until recently that we realized what a blessing his "work from home" position truly is.

I was fortunate enough to stay home with our son EJ after his birth for about 8 weeks. I treasured the moments that I got to spend with him and all the growing and developing that I witnessed in just that short period of time. Unfortunately, financially, our household would not survive on just one income, so I needed to go back to work full time. This would take me away from our son for at least 8 hours a day, if you don't count the time spent commuting to and from work. The thought of finding someone to care for our son while I was away made me sick. I couldn't imagine someone being able to care for my son like I could. Not to mention the fact that this person would be witnessing all of his firsts and possibly some major developmental milestones. After searching and searching we found someone who we deemed fit to fill in for us while we were away. However, the cost of sending EJ here full-time would be too much of a financial burden for us. We knew that we could probably swing part time though. In order to make this work, my husband stepped up to the plate and took on the role of the "Work from Home Dad," or as he would call it a "WFHD."

My husband has taken on making bottles, feedings, running errands, going to doctor's appointments, changing and dressing our baby (that's been interesting...I'm now laying out all of his clothing the night before. Just kidding, not really.) all while working! On the days that EJ does go to daycare, my husband is the one who takes him there and picks him up since I have such a long commute to work. I love seeing him with that diaper bag on his shoulder. It's such a wonderful scene. :) Due to this duty that my husband has taken on, he really and truly understands the balancing act that most mothers must perform. He knows what it's like to wonder when you will be able to take a shower or waiting until your spouse comes home to get dressed. He's been there and does this daily. I am so thankful for this "WFHD." The world needs more like him.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Working Mother

Working Mother: this term is pretty redundant if you ask me. It can also be pretty insulting. For instance, if you are a mother and you do not work outside the home, this term could imply that you do no work at all. This could not be further from the truth. I am a mother and I work outside the home. I can wholeheartedly say that being a mother is, hands-down, the hardest job I have ever had.  I have never worked longer and harder doing anything else in my life!

Before I had my baby boy I would have, what I like to call, "maternity dreams" about what my maternity leave would be like. I would be home all day with the baby and get to hold him and love on him. I would be able to clean the house, relax and sleep. It would be nice not having to think about or go into work everyday. I was going to get to visit with people that I hadn't seen in a while and I would get to spend quality time with family. Like I said..."maternity DREAM."

I won't say that being home with my baby was nothing like that, it just wasn't that picturesque and dreamy. I never got enough sleep to have any dreams...except for the times I caught myself napping with my eyes open. I think the part of my maternity leave that I really underestimated was the sleep deprivation. Everyone tells you about it. I  even read about it, but you just don't understand until you've BEEN there! The best way that I can describe it is; think of a time when you have been up all night long, maybe this was during college cramming for an exam or you have a job that requires you to work long shifts, either way you know the feeling. After the exam was over or your shift had been completed, what would you do? Most people would go home immediately and sleep. Now imagine how it would feel if that was EVERY night and there was no time in the near future that you would be able to recover..EVER. Yeah, it's something like that. I have fantasies now about long naps and a full-night's sleep. *sigh* I also read that sleep deprivation is used in some countries as a torture tactic. They will let the prisoners sleep and right before they get into REM sleep they would wake them up (insert baby cry in the middle of the night here). Once you get past the lack of sleep and just accept it as your right of passage into parenthood, you learn to adjust. This is especially true if you are fortunate enough to have a spouse or partner that is co-parenting with you. My hats off to all of the single parents out there. I really do not know how you do it. I have help and there a lot of days that I spend, literally the whole day in a fog.

Another thing that has shocked me about parenthood is how much "stuff" that those little people need!!! It's unreal. How can someone so small have a list of demands and product needs as long as Mariah Carey's when she's on tour?! And have more wardrobe changes than Diana Ross! Trying to gather everything up to leave the house just to go to the grocery store is an adventure. I can't imagine how it will be when we finally go out of town. You always have that nagging feeling that you are forgetting something when you leave the house, and you hope and pray that it's not the baby! Then there is the time when you actually do forget something, something big and you beat yourself up and think that you are the most terrible parent in the world. This happened to me just yesterday when we were dropping EJ off at Waumba Land at church (Birth-4yrs childcare). We realized as we were taking EJ out of the car that we had neglected to put any bottles in the diaper bag. Yes, we were going to send our child to church for a couple of hours without food! I was so embarrassed by this until I ran into a friend of mine at church and told her what happened. My friend is an experienced mother of three and let me know not to feel bad because she had accidentally sent her son to school with no shoes just that week! There's just so much stuff to remember that eventually something will fall through the cracks.

Motherhood is one of the only jobs that no one else can do better than you. This is why, as a mother who works outside of the home, it was difficult to go back to work and leave my little one in the hands of another. When you look into their eyes as you are leaving them for the first time, it almost rips your heart out. It does make it easier though, when you are comfortable with who is caring for your child. I recommend doing lots of research and interviewing potential childcare candidates. Also, think about the specific needs that your family has. Not all childcare options work for all families.

So I'm still dealing with the sleep deprivation, demands from my baby, remembering things, being a good wife and now throw in my duties at work into the mix. Lord, give me strength. I know I can do it, because I'm a mom and all moms are SUPERHEROS!!

Take a look at this video. You may have seen it before, but this really describes how much work goes in to being a mother. Thank you to all of the moms out there. You all are AWESOME!