Monday, September 19, 2011

What's a Day Off?

Amalah’s post today over at Amalah’s West really hit home. She talked about her day as Work from Home Mom, and describing her morning routine of getting her boys up and ready said :"then, of course, it’s time to get to…you know, “work.” Because everything up until the minute I opened the laptop was a damn vacation." The fact that any time away from work is spent taking care of your child, family, pets, and home was probably the thing that was most difficult to adjust to after bringing Mia home. I realized quickly that my maternity leave may give my brain a little bit of a rest, but wouldn’t allow me to read the stack of books that I was saving for my time off. This is especially true for poor B, who we decided only needed to take one week of family leave once we gave birth. We decided long before that this would be just fine, because a) Big Bank only gives 1 week of paid leave to new fathers, ad b) my parents were both going to be staying with us for the first 4 weeks. My parents left when Mia was 4 weeks old, I was three weeks away from going back to work full time, and we were one week away from taking Mia back to Chicago to visit with B’s family. So really, I only had one week where I was off work and alone taking care of Mia.
B would get home around 6:30 every night, and I’d give him a few minutes to take his shoes off, get out of his work clothes and come sit down on the couch. He’d immediately pull out his laptop to play whateverthehellgame and pay no attention to Mia and I glaring at him from across the couch. After “giving him the chance” to realize for himself that he needed to put his game away, I’d say,
“UH, can you take the baby now? I’d like to take a shower.” He’d answer: “But I just got off of work! Can’t I have a few minutes to relax?”. After “giving him the chance” to realize for himself that he just said the wrongest thing ever, I think: “What, do you think I’m on vacation here?”.
Now, with Mia at almost four months, B has 100% learned his lesson. On his first weekday off once I had already gone back to work, he realized he was more tired at the end of his “off” day then he was at the end of his “work” days. He would complain about it. The fact is, once you become a parent, there aren’t any more days when you can just put everything off and sit in front of the TV all day. A day off from your job means you’ve got those hours to catch up on the rest of your life’s responsibilities, those that you let slip while you’re at our job.
At the moment, and until I decide it’s too much for me, I am doing both. I’m still “parenting from work”. This makes me some kind of hybrid between a SAHM and a Working Mom, where I get to spend 100% of my time with Mia, but without the added bonus of getting to do the housework and cooking during Mia’s naps. I love being able to do this, and I am grateful that I can do this. But, it’s exhausting. This morning, I juggled Mia’s exploding diaper with finishing a complaint I’m trying to file by the end of the day. This afternoon, I juggled Mia’s ceaseless need to have a smiling face in front of her with writing immigration withdrawal letters. At the end of the day, I still manage to get almost all of my work done. Anything urgent, I can take home and finish when B gets home and can take over the entertainment duties.
My only real “day off” is Sunday, when I split the parenting duties with B. This is also the day that I get to: vacuum, do laundry (Mia’s and mine), go to the grocery store, and, I usually get at least an hour or two of knitting in. In the end, Mia is a lovely and relatively easy baby, so things could be significantly worse. We’re lucky to have the life we have.

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