I had a revelation yesterday: I need a wife.
Husbands are great for a lot of things. Need the grass cut? Need a light bulb changed or the trash taken out? Get you a husband.
But if you need someone to carry the giant mental load that comes with raising a family, you need a wife.
I recently went back to work full time after 11 years of a stay-at-home-mom gig. It’s been fulfilling and challenging and made me feel more like myself than I have in years. But the one thing I struggle with is the work/life balance. When I’m at work, I feel like I should be at home. When I’m at home, I feel like I should be at work. It’s a constant feeling in the back of my mind that I’m always letting someone down no matter what I’m doing.
My husband and I took a much needed and long overdue kid-free vacation last week. In preparation, I secured the time off from work, I arranged childcare and transportation for the kids, and I communicated all the needed information to those holding down the fort while we were away. I made spreadsheets as a guide for the kids’ school start/end times and extracurricular activities. I made sure meals were in the freezer, sheets on the bed were changed, laundry done, and lunch accounts funded. I made arrangements for our elderly dog to stay at home and left sticky notes all over the house so my dad knew where to find things while he was staying with the kids. I made sure he had the carpool hang tag and clean towels.
None of these things included finding clothes for myself, packing, setting up travel sized toiletries. Thankfully, the couple we were traveling with arranged the itinerary and transportation because I’m not sure I could have done that as well. It also doesn’t include the steps taken at work to ensure coverage for my clients.
It was amazing to be away and get that break from life (which has been hectic lately to say the least), but upon returning we ended up with a litany of unfortunate events along with some poorly scheduled obligations. Having to take an ice cold shower the night we got home because the hot water heater was on the fritz was a special treat. Following it up with a power outage and a child passing out from his 11-year-old wellness check vaccinations was icing on the cake.
We’ve been home three days and I still haven’t finished the laundry or replenished groceries. I’ve had to take a total of 6 hours away from the office in the two days since I returned. I feel like a terrible mother and wife AND a terrible employee.
The “Aha!” Moment
But in this moment of self-flagellation where I felt like a failure something occurred to me. For years, I felt “less than” because I wasn’t financially contributing to our household. Sure, I cooked the meals and cleaned the house and managed the kids, but I never felt vital. It was only now that I could truly see what my contributions were.
I was a wife. A mom. A partner. While I take nothing from the hard work I know my husband put into building his career, I now see that I was instrumental to his success. Because while I cooked and cleaned and managed doctor’s appointments and sick kids and school meetings, he didn’t have to. He was able to focus on his career in a way I haven’t been able to since before having children. Unfortunately, as a society we’ve made it so that dads / husbands who raise the family while their wives work are rare.
A disclaimer, lest the trolls come out and crucify me for not appreciating my husband: I’ve got a great one. He does his fair share with the house and kids and has always made time for us. He’s supported us financially, and since I’ve re-entered the workforce, he has supported and encouraged me and taken on more of the load than before.
If I had me as a wife and stay-at-home-mom, I’d be unstoppable!