Three things are true. One, I love my husband very much. Two, he is an active, fun, hands-on father to our two children. Three, I need him to get the hell out of our house as soon as possible. You see, my sweet spouse is on a six-week sabbatical between jobs, meaning he's home all. the. time. And sweet lord above, he's driving me crazy.
A week and a half ago, when he resigned from the company he's worked for since college (15 years!) and accepted a new position, the idea of having him home for awhile sounded great. It would be a time for him to decompress from the stress of his old job and re-energize for his new one. The kids, who are used to seeing him just a couple of hours a day during the week, would obviously love having more time with their dad. And God knows I can use all the help I can get with our "spirited" (i.e. super demanding and wild) children.
For every moment that I'm thrilled he's around, there are at least three more when I wonder whether I should just do everything myself.
His being home meant I could have more time to work without hiring a sitter or sticking our kids in front of screens. I wouldn't have to find childcare for the much-needed trip I have planned with some girlfriends. I could even volunteer to chaperone my 7-year-old daughter's upcoming field trip and volunteer in her classroom more without finding someone to watch my preschooler. What could go wrong?
Apparently, a lot. As well-intentioned and generally affable as my husband might be, an experienced stay-at-home parent he is not, and man does he have a lot to learn. Like how to clean up after our children. And our dog. And himself.
Yesterday, for example, when I hid myself upstairs to work around 2 p.m., he encouraged me to take all the time I needed. He would happily handle the kids and dinner. An hour before their bedtime, still no dinner in sight, I called down to see how things were progressing and if he needed help. No worries, he replied, the dinner he was making for us — a spicy shrimp dish the kids would never eat — was almost ready. I also asked if he was going to send the kids up for their after-dinner baths. "Oh, do they need to eat, too? I thought you had already fed them," was his response. Um, yes, dear, I fed them . . . lunch.
For every moment that I'm thrilled he's around — most notably between the hours of 6:30 and 8:30 a.m. when he uses his early rising tendencies in the best way possible — there are at least three more when I wonder whether I should just do everything myself. But then I tell myself that, no, he can and should pick up some of this parenting slack, even the stuff he's not used to. I just have to be a little patient with him and remind him of everything I do when he's not there. Like the fact that our kids have homework, school forms need to be completed, bedtimes need to be adhered to, and the dishes, laundry, floors, and counters don't magically clean themselves.
We're two weeks into this little two-parents-at-home experiment, and while it hasn't been entirely smooth sailing, there's been a major bright side. My kids are getting some serious quality time with their dad. I'm getting to sleep in. And my husband is slowly but surely learning that his weekdays spent in the office are probably less stressful than mine at home. I get a new appreciation for all that I do, and he gives me a much-needed break. That is, until he accidentally turns the kitchen into a disaster zone. Again.