I’m a SAHM: Appreciating (and Being Appreciated By) Your Valentine
Since we just celebrated our TENTH Valentine’s Day together, I’ve been thinking a lot about my relationship with my husband. From the excitement of a new relationship, to being engaged, to newly married, through the years before we had kids, and now as husband and wife AND daddy and mommy. Our relationship has definitely changed through the years, but I’ve always tried to make it a goal to love and appreciate each other through each different phase.
Because we struggled with infertility for five years (I’ll save that story for another post), I ended up working full-time much longer than we had originally planned. So, I know how it feels to come home after a long day at work, wish dinner would magically appear on the table, wish even more that the dishes would magically wash themselves, and then only have the energy to plop down on the couch to relax and watch something that doesn’t require much brain power on TV. I get it. I really do.
When both of us worked full-time, we divided the household chores and errands pretty evenly. But now I’m home with our 3-year-old and only work a few hours a week from home. My husband works more than full-time and has a long commute. Because of this, I’ve taken on a lot more of the household chores. Even though I’m more than willing to do this because he’s sacrificing so much time for our family, I’m not going to lie and say it hasn’t been just a little bit hard.
Recently, I got a wake-up call when my husband broke his foot. When it happened, he had just arrived home from work and we were doing the crazy post-work shuffle of getting dinner on the table, feeding the dogs, dealing with the 3-year-old’s temper tantrum, and taking out the garbage. We were both running to get everything done, and sit down for dinner, because I had plans later that evening and I was already running late.
In the moments right after he broke his foot, I was suddenly responsible to do all of the things we had both been running to accomplish only seconds earlier. And for the last few weeks, as this pattern has continued, I’ve definitely learned to be more appreciative of my husband and how much he does around the house, even in the short amount of time he’s actually home these days. Now, just to clarify. I have always been very appreciative of how hard he works and (I think) pretty understanding of the demands of his work schedule. But now, I am even more appreciative. Because now, every time we come home late and our thirty-five pound 3-year-old is asleep in his car seat, I now have to carry him inside. Along with all of the other things we’ve (over)packed in the diaper bag for our excursion. And this is just one example.
But helping each other out when the other person isn’t at the top of his or her game goes both ways, right? For example, my husband picked up dinner on his way home from work tonight. Again. And then after we ate dinner, he got our 3-year-old ready for bed and sent me to take a bath, because I wasn’t feeling very good and baths always seem to help. Oh, and did I mention that he walked right past a sink full of dirty dishes and piles of laundry and toys strewn across the floor (in what seems like) every room? Major husband points, am I right?
Unfortunately, this seems to be a fairly common occurrence at our house lately. Because of the craziness of life and a few health problems I’ve been dealing with, I just haven’t been keeping up with life (meals, cleaning, laundry, etc.) as well as I’d like. And when you walk in our house, you can definitely see the effect of this on our home.
Thankfully, my husband is as understanding as they come. Instead of becoming frustrated by the chaos that seems to rule our house, he tells me to stop worrying about it. He tells me it doesn’t matter. But as understanding as he is, he has even occasionally fallen into the trap of thinking this stay-at-home-mom gig is easy. One day, I had to wake up early and run some errands. When I came home and asked my husband how the morning had gone, he replied, “It was great! We snuggled, watched a cartoon, ate breakfast, and played toys! I want your job!” I couldn’t help but laugh just a little bit because what he had just described was definitely not my everyday. No, what he had just described was my dream day.
But I am also guilty of falling into the same trap of thinking my husband’s job is easier than mine. I have always wanted to be a stay-at-home-mom, so when our son was born 3.5 years ago, it was easy for us to make the decision for me to stay home with him. But recently, I’ve started working again for just a few hours. I work almost exclusively from home, but every once in a while, I get dressed up, drop our little boy off for some quality time with his grandma, and I drive into the office.
You know how people talk about playing house when they’re first married or have a new baby? When I go into the office, I feel like I’m playing work! There’s nowhere I’d rather be than home with our son. But, I have to admit, I occasionally miss those days of working; the amazing friends I worked with, and the feeling of accomplishment I felt when I met measurable goals. Even the time I spent commuting in my car alone. But let’s be honest, just like that dream morning my husband spent at home with our son wasn’t my every day, my once-in-a-while commute is also not my husband’s every day.