Like most new dads I know, Phillip took two weeks off when Molly was born. We were really looking forward to this time together with our little family. The two weeks he took off after Jack was born was a really fun time in our marriage…well, aside from the whole tube-feeding / round-the-clock pumping thing. We spent those two weeks snuggling on the couch and staring dreamily into our newborn's eyes. I know. Gag.
I thought it would be the same with Molly, but I failed to factor in the Indignant Toddler Quotient.
(Recently a friend compared Jack's reaction to the way I would react if my husband brought home a new wife. "What if Phillip brought home a strange woman and said 'I have enough love for BOTH of you!' And then he tells you that he wants you two to be friends! How would you feel?" You'll be glad to know I simply nodded my head instead of screeching, "THIS MIGHT HAVE BEEN MORE HELPFUL A FEW WEEKS AGO.")
Instead of being all cozy and happy, we were stumbling around the house, trying to manage our assigned kid. I was on default Molly duty due to the constant feeding. While I stayed in bed in the mornings to feed Molly, Phillip got up and forced Jack to eat breakfast. While I watched TV on the couch while feeding Molly, Phillip fixed lunch and cleaned up the kitchen and did battle over naps. Phillip did play time and bath time and bed time, and after a week of Jack duty he was exhausted.
When friends expecting a new baby in December dropped by to meet Molly, I caught Phillip talking about parenting to the new dad. "I have a whole new respect for staying home," he said under his breath, and OH YES I did a little happy dance right then and there. Because that's what we want to hear, right ladies?
I suspected Phillip wouldn't mind going back to work at the end of those two weeks. And, to be truthful, I was ready for him to go back to work too. Even though I needed the help and wanted him around, it was hard to have my husband infiltrate my stay-at-home-mom world for two weeks. He didn't know the schedule. He didn't know what to do for lunch. He wasn't sure how to put Jack down in the afternoon. And Jack was super clingy and annoying because DADDY IS HOME! and DADDY IS ALL MINE! and MOMMY DOESN'T PLAY WITH ME ANYMORE! I started finding Jack's clothes in the wrong drawers and weird food in the fridge and sippy cups left upstairs and for a control freak like me, it was getting a little frustrating. I mean, if the living room is my office, here was someone completely rearranging my desk.
I felt horrible confessing this to SAHM friends, but most of them seemed to agree with me. When you're used to being the one in charge, it's HARD to adjust the routine and share the responsibility. Maybe it's a little desperate to compare your diaper-changing lunch-fixing day job to cubicles and meetings and deadlines and reports, but whatever. Who has a whole new respect for staying home all day? That's right. It's tough work and yes, I may be anxiously awaiting my husband's arrival every evening, but during the day this is MY job and I'm the boss. Beware all ye who mess with my laundry.