Well, I’m surviving. I have my 10th day back to work tomorrow. I can’t believe it. Everything and nothing has changed. I have been waiting to assess my real feelings about going back to work. I do not think it is fair to judge the first day. No one likes a first day back to work. Ten days in. I’m not thrilled. It’s a long drive, and a long day. But, is it awful that I’m not hating it? No, don’t get me wrong, I do miss the boys. I loved being at home and getting to do activities with them. I loved grocery shopping during the weekday. I miss the boys waking me up. I miss their energy. But, for me, working with people and talking to adults is a whole different energy to feed off of. I know, it’s awful, how can a mom really be liking being back to work? How dare I? I’m not upset. I’m actually happy. I am happy that my husband gets to spend some one on one time with the boys.
Yes, you heard that right. This is the second time my husband has done a stint of parental leave. Yes, sadly that means I go back to work -but we are a team. I think it is awesome! Not only do the boys get to hang out with their dad over four months – all day – but I can be less stressed transitioning back to work. Going back to work is stressful for most people because the first few days and weeks are an adjustment. Learning to wake up and get the kids up to go to day care; while timing out the dressing, lunches, diapers, packing up the kids, coats and boots. In four months I will have to think about them adjusting to day care and a new routine. For now, I get to wake up and go to work. I only have to get myself ready. I can get into the swing and then transition later. That is a huge bonus.
It’s hard for me to understand families that do not have a team parenting strategy. I cannot imagine the strength it takes to be a single parent. I see parenting as two people giving 100%, not as 50/50. So, having to be 200% would be exhausting. Which is why I appreciate knowing that my husband is fathering while I’m away. It might be harsh but, in my opinion, dads should not get high fives for changing a diaper or making and feeding a bottle. I don’t think fathers get extra credit for “watching” the kids when a mom wants to go out. But then again, in my house, it has never been a question. We are a team. So without worry from me, he can enjoy some time with the boys, while I head back to work. I am not saying, if a dad doesn’t get the time at home, the kids are worse off. No way. Parenting can be done in many different forms, and even long distance, when done with passion and dedication. However, the opportunity for my sons to get full one on one time with their father is something I am proud of.
It is almost sad that when people find out he is at home, I feel like I have to defend it. I have been explaining our choice for so long, since he stayed home with my eldest, that it has become a habit. Fathers should be able to have time with their kids, without defending leaving work. Mothers should be able to enjoy going back to work without battling a guilty conscience. When a dad talks about his child, and that child is younger than a year, no one says… “so who is at home with the kids?” No. They just assume that the child is well taken care of. They do not ask if the mom is “okay with changing diapers” or “does she feed them correctly.” Why, do I get those questions? Most people I talk to mention that they think it’s a great idea. Most of them also add how dads should do all those things. Don’t they?
Cultures are all different and families are different.
Dads do not have to stay at home with the kids. I’m just pleased our family gets the opportunity. It works for us.
I hope that each family can find what works for them. I like working. I like being home. It should be okay to enjoy both. I hope that the social guilt goes away, one day, for every mom out there that walks back through the door of her job. There should not be guilt. But, I also hope that dads can stay home without being questioned on their abilities.
So as much as I’d love to spend the day with my boys, I’m glad Mike gets to. I am lucky enough to have someone on my team. I could not do it alone.