Mark called me at work on Friday morning. He wanted to take Otis to the doctor because his cough, the one that had woken us up a couple times the night before, was sounding worse.
I made the appointment and explained that Otis was, as Mark described, sounding wheezy.
We went in and the doctor took 5.6 seconds to diagnose croup. She congratulated us on catching it early. There’s usually one really bad night of coughing, and it’s scary enough to get many parents to the emergency room or a call to the on-call pediatrician. And you know we aren’t afraid to call someone for help. She figured tonight would have been that night for us so it was great that we were here and able to get him a steroid shot before it got too bad.
It’s hard being a working mom. It’s scary to believe you’re missing out on everything that matters. It’s embarrassing to think you’re choosing money (i.e. clothes, food, shelter) over your child. It’s sad to think your kid might be feeling neglected or unloved or like he might not be your #1 priority every minute of every day.
It can be harder, in my opinion, being a working mom with a stay-at-home-dad for a husband. It’s scary to feel resentful and angry that he gets to be something to your baby that you can’t. It’s embarrassing to “take care” of a man, even though I’m confident Gloria Steinem would think it was cool. It’s sad that anyone might look down on the man you love because he loves his kid.
I was beaming when we left the doctor’s office.
I wanted to tell everyone about how Mark caught the croup! Ok, our kid caught the croup, but my husband was Dr. Dad! He knows our little boy. He knows what normal is because he’s there for every banana breakfast. For every tantrum about where a tractor is supposed to go. For the poo poos and pee pees. Mark is there and he knew when something wasn’t right.
Penelope Trunk, one of my favorite bloggers ever, wrote recently about how women don’t really want to work. She points to Giselle, a very rich supermodel, who doesn’t spend her own money because she wants to feel taken care of by Tom, a very rich football player. The logical conclusion is that working moms with stay-at-home-dads should feel the exact opposite of taken care of and/or happy.
Mark doesn’t take care of me, of us, financially. But he takes care of me in the very best way he can: He loves our son.
He makes sure that when I get home from work I can just enjoy my baby. No dishes, no laundry, no meals to cook. He makes sure our baby is loved and fed and played with and safe. He talks about the love he has for our baby with tears in his eyes because it’s that powerful, and has existed from the very moment he met Otis. He pays attention to the details. He listens to every breath that escapes our little boy’s mouth, and he knows when something isn’t right.
I’m pretty sure that my Happiness Set Point is naturally higher than Penelope’s, so I might not be a fair person to ask about what it’s like to have a stay-at-home-dad as a husband. I could turn practically anything into a happy memory or lesson learned. And I won’t lie, if Mark sells a song to Kelly Clarkson and becomes a millionaire I’ll be the first one calling in for… forever. I just can’t believe I could be much happier than I am today.
But if you ARE reading, Kelly…
And to answer Penelope’s questions…
Number of nannies: 1 husband and 2 grandmas.
Total cost per year for childcare: Cost? Zero. Value on the other hand…
Number of dinners per week with the kids: 7
Number of children’s books you have memorized from reading aloud to kids so often: None because my kid is addicted to YouTube. Oops. Did I say that out loud?