The Broken Routine
Do you know of a family with a stay-at-home mom (SAHM), one who has a routine and a household that runs like a well-oiled machine? I know many. And the moment Dad comes into the picture and starts roughhousing with the kids before bedtime or tries to do their daughter's hair before school only throws the routine into a tizzy. Everyone has their roles and once Dad starts trying to fulfil one of the roles that Mom usually fills, everyone gets confused and life gets turned upside down. My life, Gus's life, was turned upside down this weekend when Danny, my husband, left us to go to a Bachelor Party in Miami for four days.
Danny went out of town and I took two days off of work hoping to spend a long weekend and good quality time with Gus before the arrival of Baby Boy #2. For the record let me just say, I know how to parent my son. I know how to plan fun things with him. I know how to keep a schedule. Yet somehow the weekend left me feeling like I can't compare to my husband when it comes to raising our child.
I write this post to you as I tell myself over and over that I am not a bad mom or a failure, that me going to work everyday is doing something good for our family. Why? I have been comparing everything that my husband does with Gus and how well he does it with myself and it never turns out the same. Let's take a look:
On most days, Danny is capable of getting Gus to eat his vegetables (or at least a few bites). He sits patiently with him at the table and calmly reminds him to sit down when he stands on his chair. He will play music and sing along with Gus or use the fork as an airplane as he coaxes Gus into eating his lunch. He isn't always successful, sometimes everything ends in a tantrum or egg gets all over Danny, but usually he gets the nutrients into our son.
What happened this weekend? Gus would constantly stand up on his chair, turn around, and yell, "SIT DOWN!" to me. So when I would say, "No, you sit down!" he would just giggle and twirl around. Every time I tried to help him eat his food he would pull the veggies or protein out of his mouth and throw it across the table and onto my clean floors that I scrubbed during naptime. When I tried to feed him myself he would smack my hand away and say, "No!". In fact, anything that was not a carbohydrate got chewed up and thrown across the room. I am cringing as I tell you that my child only ate carbohydrates the entire weekend and I can't remember whether or not he even ate one vegetable.
Gus - 1, Mom - 0
I have had Christmas throw pillows on my couch since, well, Christmas. I hadn't found any new ones I liked online, so I started looking into local stores that I could go to (support your local businesses!). One afternoon I decided that Gus and I needed to get out of the house, so we went to a boutique furniture store to look for new pillows. Silly Mama forgot to put Gus in a stroller and I let him hold my hand as he walked like a big boy across the parking lot. As soon as I stepped foot into the store I realized it was a bad idea: Vases. Everywhere.
All Gus wanted to do was run around the entire store like a maniac climbing on all of the furniture, touching all of the glass items, seeing if he could reach the tops of displays. My pregnant ass waddled behind him trying to catch and pick him up so that I didn't end up paying for the entire store. He giggled the entire time, my blood pressure rose an exorbitant amount.
Gus - 2, Mom - 0
Danny and Gus goof around a lot together. They play hockey indoors. They play golf outside. While Danny gets ready, Gus jumps on the bed and screams "boingy boingy". When Danny sits on the ground to play cars with Gus, it usually ends with Gus using Danny as a jungle gym and bouncing all over him.
I let Gus come into our bed one night so he would wind down. He stood up, lovingly turned around and gave me a hug and then tried to do boingy boingy right on my pregnant stomach.
Gus - 3, Mom - 0
In the movies I always see the dad play one of two roles: The Enforcer or The Fun Guy. Since Danny and I are very much on the same page when it comes to parenting and what we allow our child to do, I want to have a good balance of having fun with my child while also setting good boundaries. The moment Danny left for his trip it seemed as if anything Gus had ever learned in terms of discipline and manners went out the window (yes, I do recognize my son is still little and learning).
For example, I took him to the Zoo with a friend of mine. While her son sat pleasantly in the wagon the entire time, Gus wanted to get out and run around like a maniac, leaving me to chase him. Every time I got close he would giggle and run further...and that's just one example. One time I told him to turn around and please come back to me and he screamed, "No!" and continued in the other direction. How can you feel like you are doing anything right as a parent when that happens? How can you not compare yourself to another mother whose child diligently listens and yours continues to defy you? At some point you do feel like you are doing everything wrong.
Gus - 4, Mom - 0
I could sit here all day and list examples of times I have struggled as a parent. I can tell you there are many instances where I struggle even when Danny is here. This will take patience and work from my side, especially since I'm not with Gus all day like Danny is. I'm a different person, I have a different personality, I play a different role in Gus's life - it only makes sense that Gus responds differently to me. But sometimes my patience runs thin and I lose my temper because Gus refuses to listen to me like he does with Danny... and I feel like a failure.
I have friends whose working husbands also feel inadequate as a parent at times, because the children don't respond to the dads like they do with Mom. When Mom constantly intervenes instead of letting Dad figure it out for himself (and vice versa), it doesn't help the situation. Like those SAHMs, Danny sometimes steps in to referee if I am getting kicked in the stomach or smacked in the face because he knows what works best for him. After all, he deals with it all day long and wants the situation to be handled immediately.
I'm still on my journey to figure out this working mom life. On days where I feel like I'm failing at both of my jobs, I do even worse of a job at being a mom because my patience is less than zero. I can tell you how great my life is on most days, but you need to know that my life isn't perfect and that I have many obstacles to overcome (more than just these silly examples that I have given you). Even though my husband is a SAHD and is incredibly supportive in all that I do, we still struggle. We are learning. We fail. We figure it out. We move on. Sometimes we make the same mistakes multiple times. The point here is: Stop judging yourself. Stop being so hard on yourself. You are doing a great job and no one is walking in your shoes, so they will never know exactly how difficult your walk is. It's ok to ask for help. It's ok to cry. It's ok to have a glass of wine (or four). Just make sure you are building your village so that you get help when you need it.
You've got this, Mama <3
If you enjoy these blogs, please consider purchasing a children's book to give back to working Moms: Freckle Faced Gus and A Stay-at-Home Dad?