Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Working Mom

     Hello all you lovely people. I am Mrs. Ray, also known to my friends as Anna. My husband has invited me to do a guest spot in his blog, and I have accepted. So let's get started.
     As all of you know, Raymond and I have a reversal of the "normal" roles, where I work and he is the stay at home parent. It wasn't always this way. For seven years, I was the main parent at home. I worked nights, and Raymond days, so I was the one usually up with our daughter, starting homework, etc. Then after our son was born, I was the stay at home parent, plus a caregiver to my grandmother. I cooked, I cleaned, I helped with homework, did laundry, attended school functions, parent teacher meetings and chaperoned field trips. I got up with the kiddos at night, but this was mainly because I was the food on demand.
     A little over a year ago, our world flipped upside down. Raymond, who has always had problems with his hips and back, got hurt at work. Hurt to the point that it wasn't better in a few days. It wasn't better after a week. After a trip to the emergency room and some X-rays, we realized that Raymond staying at his job was more of a risk than either of us were willing to take. It was only a matter of time until he had a spasm or his back froze up on him at the wrong moment, and he fell from one of the ladders or, heaven forbid, from a rafter over fifty feet in the air. So we decided that Raymond would leave his job and I would go back to work.
     I must admit, that first day, I almost skipped out the door. After three years of being with naught but children under the age of ten all day, and my most interesting conversations revolving around Mickey Mouse and Tinkerbell, I was ready to rejoin the world of adults. I found a job as a waitress at a local diner, and though I loved my job, I was not prepared for how much I missed my children. I was also not prepared for how nervous I was about Raymond staying at home.
     I knew what a handful our kids could be. I knew how hard it was to get dinner cooked and on the table, unburnt, while a six year old threw a soccer ball around the house and the two year old decided that he needed to cry at the top of his lungs because you would not let him climb on top of the washing machine.
     I think I called him fifty times a day those first few days. He would reassure me that everything was fine, and let me talk to the kiddos to assure me that all was fine. (Though at times I think he may have bribed them.) The first day, when I came home, he looked at me and said, "I am so sorry." He then explained how he had thought what I did was a cakewalk. And how wrong he was. I also apologized. I had no idea how hard it was to be away from our children for ten plus hours a day.
     The days passed, and slowly we adjusted to our new roles. I valued the time I had with our small family more than ever, and Raymond appreciated those few stolen minutes to himself. And he understood why I locked the bathroom door.
     Now, over a year later, we are firmly established in our roles. He has dinner on the table every night between five thirty and six. He helps our daughter with her homework. He schedules the parent teacher meetings and makes sure that our daughter has what she needs for school. He helps her pick out her school clothes the night before, and he does his best at doing her hair. Our two year old son can count to ten and can say his ABC's up to G. Our daughter is in the first grade and can read on a fourth grade level. He helped her take her math grade up from a very low C to a B and it is still climbing.
     He does wonderfully. He does much better than I ever did. I and our kids have clean clothes, he has only burned dinner twice in a year, which is far better than I ever did. The house is as clean as it can be with two children under the age of ten in it, and our kiddos are happy and thriving.
     Yet, when people ask what my husband does and I tell them he is a stay at home dad, most give me a weird look, and some even make catty or straight out unneeded remarks. One older lady once told me that in her day "a man who wouldn't work didn't deserve a wife." I politely informed her that my husband was willing to work, but we preferred that he be around to see our children graduate high school. Another woman, about my age, asked me how I could trust my children with a man all day long. When I asked her what she was implying she turned bright red and started stammering over her words. I told her that if I thought my husband the type to hurt my children or do anything to them that would negatively affect them, I would not have married him.
    I have seen all kinds of comments online, that not only confuse me, but infuriate me to no end. I have seen moms who say that a dad can't be a stay at home parent, because a man can not be a nurturing as a woman. Why not? Though my husband is more strict than I am, when my daughter skins her knee or my son hits his head, he is the gentlest person in the world. He is also the first to stand and applaud them when they do something great. Even the small somethings that no one else would find amazing.
     I have seen women say that any dad that stays at home must be a pedophile. WHAT?!?!?! Where is your reasoning in this? And if that is your first assumption about any parent, you need your head checked, because that is a YOU problem, not a stay at home dad problem.I hear women cry that a man is supposed to work, and these women are the same ones that gripe about equality. It's a two way street. You can not beat down men just to bring yourself up, because it will not work.
     I joke with my husband all the time and tell him he makes a better house wife than I ever did. And it is true. He balances things more than I ever could, and his one step at a time approach works better than my multitasking approach. He gets more done in a day than I would in a week.
     I am so proud of my husband, and support him. I support all stay at home dads out there who are trying to change this stereotype that only women can be good care givers. I will fight along side them to anyone ignorant enough to make remarks that put them down, and I will tell anyone who tries to put them down how wrong they are.
    I have a wonderful partner, who is great as a stay at home parent, he just happens to be a man.

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