Friday, September 6, 2013

Give the Guys a Break by Sharon Hester

I love having guest bloggers. There's so much insight & wisdom to be gained from the experiences of others. Today, my adorable friend & fellow mommy, Sharon Hester, is letting you glimpse into her life... I was better for reading her post. Thank you for sharing!

Give the Guys a Break!

[Disclaimer: In no way, shape or form is this entry meant to highlight dual-working mamas & papas, single parents, or the “stay-at-home-mama”.  Simply, I have a new appreciation for the shoes my husband walks in daily as a “man-who-works-then-comes-home-to-take-care-of-his-family”.  Nothing more, nothing less (other than a shout out to dual-working mamas & papas, single parents, and the stay-at-home-mama…)  J]

my husband as a "stay-at-home" daddy; he took her on daddy/daughter walks & sent me pics throughout the day.
A few months ago, the husband & I had a unique opportunity to turn the tables: I would go to work for 3 full weeks, while he played “stay-at-home-dad” (only, the “stay-at-home” part was in a foreign country for my job, which brought a different dynamic to it).  I know that 3 whole weeks isn’t much (compared to women who work full-time or even part-time, all the time, or those who do it as a single parent), but it was enough to give me an appreciation and different perspective.  

It softened my heart, I gained some grace regarding “his side”, and it was probably enough to save that crucial space in our marriage that thrives on respect & appreciation.  Men need it & deserve it too…

Let’s just get right to it: I.was.exhausted.  My average workdays were 10+ hours, and probably half the time I worked so late I missed Ava’s bedtime (she goes to sleep around 9-ish…so that tells you something about my days).  On the occasions I did make it home in time to hang out with her, I often fell asleep on the couch in the early evening and Sky was sweet enough to graciously put her to bed while letting me nap.  (Unless Sky has a night work-week, our bedtime routine always involves the pair of us: reading to her, praying with her, then placing her in her crib). 

It was common that I called Sky “5 minutes” before I left the office…only to stay another 15-30 minutes, in addition to the 30-minute drive home.  A couple of times, Sky had dinner waiting...for over an hour.  Ladies, does this sound familiar?  I can’t begin to tell you how many times Sky has called me during his workday to tell me he’s “leaving in 15”…15 turns into 30 and I know now to just add 30-ish extra minutes to when he estimates departing.   

Even though this trip was away from home, we still had “daily living” chores to tend to: cleaning up in the apartment; laundry; grocery shopping; meal prep & cleanup; etc.  After a long day at work (mostly mentally challenging), do you think I felt like doing any of it?  


In fact, I don’t even recall doing  Sky woke when I did and made breakfast for me while I readied for work (which is what I do for him at home); he had dinner ready when I got home; he took care of general house cleanup. 

I haven’t even begun to talk about the “Ava factor”: she was 6 months at the time and starting to become mobile.  We took a few small toys for her, and fortunately a friend from work gave me a bag full of toys to use while we were there. 

he set up a play obstacle course for her in the living room...he actually introduced her to solids while we were there too & video recorded it so I could see it when I got home.
Did I say “we”…because really, it was Sky who used them with Ava.  In our daily life when Sky gets home from work, my mindset isn’t to “give him the baby so I can have a break”…because honestly, I don’t feel overwhelmed after a day with her.  But do I enjoy having some free moments to myself when he comes home?  Absolutely.  But the biggest reason for the handoff when Sky gets home is “him”.  He misses her all day and wants to hang out with her.  So the first thing Sky does when he walks through the door (minus the greetings we always give each other), is happily take Ava.  

We spend a good amount of time talking about our day; we get some house stuff  & dinner stuff done together; and depending on the time/ day, we enjoy the rest of what’s left of an evening as a family together.  

Well, turn those tables and let me tell you what happened when I had the chance to walk through the door from work: greeting with the husband- check!  Take the baby and shower her with hugs & kisses – check!  Nursing session to nourish & bond with my baby – check!  Ummmmm…it stopped about there because by my accounts, a full day of exhausting work combined with draining of the milk jugs equaled the final straw to MY naptime (at 7 pm).  I could barely hang on to an intellectual conversation (the hubs is a great conservationist…though sometimes it became a monologue), and I know I ate dinner at some point during the evening, but my night generally ended there.  We tried watching a show each night, but I think I nodded off during.  

So, that doesn’t even factor in time for tidying up around the house, making dinner, hobbies to “unwind”, or the gym. 

"stay-at-home daddy" reading books to her
I look at all this through the eyes of my amazing husband and our daily life…and I feel my selfish heart break a little.  He makes time for the “chores” that are important to me…even if I have to ask him to do them (c’mon ladies, let’s not make this rocket science for them:  Though I make breakfast for us, he either helps with dinner OR gets other stuff done while I prepare dinner.  He makes time to chat with me about his day, and listens to whatever “stimulating” stories I have about my day with a newborn.  But my biggest realization was the things he sacrifices in order to fit all those activities in: for example, his gym-time falls by the wayside; his man-cave projects, or general house projects get slow-rolled; and I never realized it, but he really doesn’t have a complete, solo “unwind” time…

I can go on and on about the “little” things I have a better appreciation for now…because I’ve had a glimpse of the big things that fill up his day. 

I wasn’t initially going to add this, but I feel the need for an additional “disclaimer”: we do not all have the same home life.  Some husbands do more in different areas of the marriage, some do less. 

They manage their time differently, and we all have different priorities in our marriages and family life.  We’re all in different stages of married life/ parenthood.  An exact comparison isn’t needed to reflect on our own lives and find areas to be gentler in with our spouses.   

I was humbled & I pray this insight stays at the forefront of my mind.  It took place in May 2013 and we’re now in Sept 2013… has the “revelation” made a difference?  It has made ALL the difference.  

Yes, it’s difficult to remember these things on days when I feel like I’m “in the trenches” all alone.  But I consider this quote and feel it should apply to my best friend, my lover, my husband, my soulmate, the father of my child as well…

“Be kind, for everyone is fighting a hard battle”  ~ Plato ~

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