Sometimes when you come home from work I seem frustrated. Sometimes I attack you with too many complaints about screwing on the soda lids so darn tight, or I greet you quickly between throwing sauce on a pizza and sending one of the kids to timeout. I don't want things to be tense and chaotic when you come home- or in general- but maybe if I give you a window into what is going on inside my maze-like mind you will be better able to understand (even though I still ought to respond better):
First of all- I'm SO grateful that you work to support us. (That's an understatement.) As much as I feel that I have more than a full time job at times with the kids, I feel extremely blessed to be home with them- to see our kids growing up in small and big ways... to be able to plan my own weeks (around the whims/needs of the kids of course)...to be able to go outside to the park in the sunshine when I know you are stuck at a desk inside...to be able to sit for a few minutes to check e-mail or facebook without someone looking over my shoulder to see if I'm on task...and to be able to snack and grab a coffee at will.
That said, when you come home to see the kids I know they are getting to that cranky twilight zone. I know that they can be needy and testy and whiny. I know that it is hard to come home to that and suddenly have to turn on Daddy mode when you've just finished a long day of work. But it is at this very moment that I have often lost every shred of patience that I have with the ever mounting whines and tantrums. I have had just one trip to the bathroom that wasn't a group fieldtrip, and may have almost resorted to using the monster puppet to scare our son into the carseat so I could get Charlotte to school on time. The tantrums and stubbornness that you are experiencing for an hour and a half before bed, I have been dealing with off and on all day. And most days I would kill for that half hour commute you have both ways- because a car to myself is a rare moment of calm and bliss. Even though I pray for more patience than I sometimes show, I think, in an unspoken expectation, I rely on you to come home and be fresh off the bench- ready with superhero patience when mine is giving out. So is it natural for you to be frustrated when you come home to grouchy kids? Yes. But I sometimes get annoyed at your frustration, as natural as it is, because I desperately need you to outlast my own weakness.
Then, when you are with the kids on your own- whether I go out for a girls' date or to get some alone time at the grocery store- you should know that I have this expectation that you will spend some time really, really playing with the kids. This may seem unfair- I know you need your down time too- but truth be told, I feel guilty every day for the amount of time I don't actually spend with our kids. I'm WITH them all day, sure, but I find I'm spending so much time cleaning, or keeping on schedule, or trying to sneak in a few minutes to myself, that I don't make enough time to really see them- to really play- to really be present with them. And I bring this guilt to the table when I leave them with anyone, including you- and somehow it makes me feel better to think that while I get a break from the mom thing, they will be getting all the attention that I would want to give them if I were there. It frees me to know that I'm not the only person that is filling them with attention. But I may take this expectation too far.
Finally, I get controlling about too much- I probably over critique everything from how fast you can change a diaper to what kinds of foods you are giving them. I am not overly organized- I do not have a specialty or degree in this, but this Mom thing is essentially my life right now. It does not justify my actions, but I tend to get a little snippy at times when things don't go the way I always do it- because on the day to day stuff I kind of run this place. Not without you, obviously, but during the day it is all me. And maybe that goes to my head a little bit- or maybe I feel a little better about myself if I think I am the clear expert at how many carrots vs. chicken nuggets should go on their plates, how to efficiently diaper, and how to best deflect our son from locking himself in the van to "drive" it himself. But I know that what I really want is for us to be a team, and that I undermine that every time I tell you how you should do things, instead of creating dialogue.
In short, I really want our kids to see us as a team- and I want them to grow up knowing that we each love them and interact with them in our own special ways and through our unique personalities. I get frustrated sometimes- but it may just as often be related to my own feelings of shortcomings as it is to something you did. I love our kids and I know they love each of us and look to us to fill them and acknowledge their perspective and their daily triumphs, joys, and sorrows. I know that our roles with them won't be exactly the same and their really is no clear "fair" when it comes to parenting. But...
I love those crazy kids...and I love you too. Always.
Your Stay-at-Home Wife
Labels: Family, Marriage, Motherhood, Stay-at-home Mom