Stay-at-Home Parenting: The Horrible Truth

I’m going to just say this: Stay-at-home moms are way underappreciated in this world. I say moms because although the gender gap is closing, moms for decades were the traditional stay-at-home parent while the dads went to work.

Now, I’m not someone that thought they had it easy. I knew it was a tough job. I’d feel bad if I had to leave the house when the baby and toddler were screaming and crying while my wife verbally prodded our oldest to get dressed for school. I got on the bus and could read a magazine and just take it easy for a little bit.

Those quiet moments are over.

It’s honestly not too bad. I have to say I enjoy being at home with the kids more than I did going to work Monday through Friday. I miss the little things like those me-times I had on the bus, or when I was at lunch. I missed my kids terribly though, and I didn’t realize how much until now.

But I digress.

This is like a new job, and like any new job you start to get more and more comfortable. The biggest shock for me was all internal. There was panic in that I wasn’t working anymore. There was (still is?) an existential crisis. There was huge amounts of anxiety from a baby and a toddler who both demand 110% of your attention at the same time (RIGHT F*$^#@% NOW DAD! their ear piercing screams say). There was the immense boredom. There was frustration that things needed to be done around the house, but for every toy I picked up, my two year old daughter pulled out two more.

These feelings, like the nervousness at a new job, are no longer so extreme now. There still is anxiety, but it’s focused on the things that matter. The baby is screaming, but is he safe? Is he in danger? No. Ok, I can finish changing the two year old. The frustration is still there, but even though dishes are piling in the sink, if I can do some of them I feel better about it. I don’t necessarily have to finish a task to feel like I’ve done something.

The worst is the time, or lack thereof. Multitasking isn’t an option anymore, it’s a necessity. I’d make light-hearted fun at my wife’s multitude of half-completed tasks. I’d always tell her in my ironic mansplaining way that perhaps she should stick with a task and finish it before moving to something else. Now, going against my own nature, I’ve learned that I need to do that exact same thing. Work on a task when I can, and learn to move on even when it’s not finished. Moreover, do multiple things when you can.

While I’m heating up water to warm up baby’s milk, I’m washing a few dishes. When I’m in the car, I call my parents. It’s probably the only time I can talk to them. The kids are legally tied up in the back (for their safety, I’m not a monster) and for whatever reason, they’re usually pretty quiet when I’m driving. Multitasking isn’t a personality trait. It becomes a necessity when you have two young kids that demand so much attention from you all the time.

But that’s the horrible truth of stay-at-home parenting. Just the shear lack of time you have to do the most trivial task sometimes. Shortly before I left my job and my wife started hers, I had planned to blog about my days as a stay-at-home parent on a daily basis or at the very least weekly. My last blog post was about three weeks ago. That first blog post was three weeks after I became a stay-at-home dad. It seems almost laughable now, that I thought I’d have enough peace and quiet to sit down with my laptop and take a moment to write down my experiences, perhaps while sipping a nice herbal tea as I listen to classical music. Ok, I didn’t think it’d happen exactly like that, but even the though of having that kind of time to myself seems silly now.

Those short moments I get when my wife comes home, and I’m able to go to the bathroom in peace, or check my emails, or play a quick game on my 3DS are absolutely heavenly. And that’s the horrible truth: the feeling that pooping in peace is a luxury.