It’s not my husband’s fault that he works outside the home.
I have to tell myself that most days as I stare at the clock, waiting for the minutes to pass until he returns.
We are a lucky family. I was able to find a job that allows me to work from home part-time. I have a husband who shares our parenting responsibilities as best he can.
I know how privileged we are. And I know there is no way for my husband to know what it’s like to be home with the kids all day, every day.
I try not to also let my husband know that I have the following thoughts surrounding his homecoming:
“Is time moving backward?”
I check the clock. It’s 4 p.m. OK, getting close. I’ll do a quick artsy activity with the kids. The cleanup alone should get me to 4:30 p.m. Look at the clock when we’re all done. It’s 4:15. OK, let’s go outside. Check the clock when the kids need water. 4:22. Play the weird game that both kids enjoy, which is dinosaurs attacking mermaid dolls. 4:35. Good Lord! What do I need to do to get to 5:45 p.m.? Sleep with Father Time?
“He better appreciate this dinner.”
Cooking dinner with two little kids underfoot is probably one of life’s greatest challenges. On very rare occasions, my husband will text me at 4:45 p.m. and say something super innocent but so annoying, like, “Don’t wait on me for dinner” or “They fed us at work today, so I don’t need to eat tonight.” Like, I know I JUST started planning this meal two minutes ago, but in my mind, this was already a masterpiece that you were going to eat and love and make you realize how amazing your wife is.
“He’s home! He’s home! He’s home!”
When it comes to the most wonderful things I have ever seen, my husband walking in the door is second only to the first time I saw my children after their births. I swear, this has second-coming status. It’s a sign of hope. This is relief. After 10 or more hours of waiting hand and foot on two usually ungrateful masters, I get a break. How sweet it is to hear the kids yell, “Daddy!” Ahhh … the sound of impending peace.
“Wait. WAIT. What the hell does he think he’s doing?”
WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU NEED TO GET CHANGED? My entire being moves from joy into utter despair. I feel myself crumbling over the dinner table I’m setting, trying my best to show that I’m totally OK with him going upstairs for a few minutes. I tell the kids to “go help Daddy,” but they know dinner is coming and like vultures have been circling the kitchen asking in their high-pitched voices when they can feed. There is no chance of them letting that food get out of their eyesight. My husband going upstairs makes me feel like I got a glimpse of the good life and then got sent back to the streets. I have seen heaven but don’t get to go. I have tasted ice cream but have to eat the non-fat fro-yo.
“Why, yes, I will go get out of here.”
Then, it comes. Sometimes it’s while the kids are still finishing their meals. Sometimes, it’s not until the dishes are done and the kitchen is closed. But most nights, my husband says, “Why don’t you go take a break?” And I do. Oh, sweet baby Jesus, I get to go up to my room, close the door, lie on my huge king-sized bed with NO ONE else in it and take about 10 undisturbed minutes of rest. This. This makes it all worth it. I keep my thoughts to myself, tell my husband we had a good day, and rest up for tomorrow.