If you’re a stay-at-home mom, I’m probably not going to tell you anything new, but being a stay-at-home mom can suck. Don’t get wrong, tending to home and family is rewarding both emotionally and spiritually. Plus, you get to binge watch GLOW while you Pledge the china cabinet. But there is a lot more that goes on in a day than your working spouse even realizes. How do I know this? Because I used to be the working spouse, before I became the stay-at-home dad.
There Are Not Enough Hours In The Day For This Stay-At-Home Dad
When I came home from a long day at the office, I would find my wife napping on the sofa. I’d roll up my sleeves and finish washing the dishes. Oh! And I’d also bitterly seethe while I played out delightful fantasies of telling off my better half while proclaiming to God above that I’m obviously the MVP of this duo. Of course, I never did because I’m secretly a terrible person, not a full blown, in your face, terrible person. My problem wasn’t my napping wife; it wasn’t the dishes in the sink. My problem was that I only saw one side.
Until I lost my job.
You learn very quickly just how precious the hours in a day can be. They fall away like sand through an hourglass – sorry, I used to watch a lot of Days Of Our Lives. I didn’t understand how the day could just fly by and leave you with the feeling of nothing accomplished. Let me give you an example of a typical Wednesday.
I only have one goal this Wednesday: laundry. Simple, right? Shut your face! It’s not! I bring a load of dirty clothes to the laundry room, only to find a soggy marsh of towels already taking up residence in the washer. Who put them there? I didn’t put them there. Yet somebody put them there, washed them, and didn’t move them over. Interesting. So before I get started on my load, I have rewash the funk out of these towels. And, of course, while the towels are washing, I have to watch some more episodes of GLOW.
I never claimed to be blameless in this story.
With the towels in the drier, I can now begin the day of washing the kids’ and my clothes. Next time your spouse comes home and throws shade about something not getting done; chunk a pair of dirty, ten-year-old boy underwear at their face. That’ll shut them up. Hazmat suits should come standard with any modern home. With the first load of laundry out of the washer and into the drier, I realize the living room floor is a wreck. I typically sort the clothes on the floor so the kids can put them away when they get home. But I can’t dump loads of clean clothes on an area rug gently kissed by dog fur, popcorn, my wife’s hair, my daughters’ hair, probably my hair, and enough grass to host a soccer tournament. So before I sink hip deep into this whole laundry kick, I need to spruce my house just a dab.
I bust out the Dyson and after a little while the carpet is now clean. But what about the stairs? They’re a wreck. And what about upstairs? The game room alone is a wasteland. Our puppy got his fangs on a tennis ball and tore is to shreds within an hour. We’ve got bite-size chunks of sticky, tennis ball rubber dotting the upstairs carpet like Korean landmines. So I vacuum. What else can I do? I was raised with the idea you should be able to walk across your house without having to wear flip-flops like you’re taking a shower at a YMCA. It’s old school thinking, I know.
But guess what? Halfway through the vacuuming, the roller clogs on all the twisted hair/fur. I need a screwdriver to take off the casing, so I head to the garage where I find the cat as somehow snuck in. It shoots between my feet and into the kitchen. After I drag him out from under the dining room table, I open the backdoor to toss him into the woodchipper backyard, only to be bulled over by the dog that I put outside because he freaks out at the vacuum. Normally, him coming in wouldn’t be a big deal, but he has stomped through some water left over from the rain, and he has tracked in grass and smeared mud all over the kitchen floor. The dog goes back out easy enough, but now I have a kitchen floor to clean. Sweet Christmas, I can’t let all this grass loiter around my kitchen because it’ll just get tracked into the living room.
I sweep the kitchen. I mop the floor. I repair the vacuum. I vacuum. When I shut the Dyson off, I can hear my stomach going nuts. All I had for breakfast was grapefruit so I heat up a bowl of Spaghetti O’s, because I’m secretly seven and big for my age. When I sit down in my chair and unpause GLOW, I notice it’s now 1:40 p.m. and I have to pick up the kids from their grandmother’s in twenty minutes. Then we’ve got piano lessons. The day is pretty much over.
That’s how a day fades away on you. By the time my wife comes home, I’m exhausted. I smell like burnt hair and wet dog. I have immaculate floors, yet my children have zero clean underwear. You look back on the day and it’s all just a tragic blur. But don’t worry, folks. I’ve written it all down for you. So when your lambchop/shmoopie/cutie pie comes home and asks what you did all day; you just shove this little slice of my life in their face and have a glass of wine while they read. Then take a long bath and order a pizza. You’ve earned it.