I have a confession to make. I sometimes need reminding that my wife is also doing something quite radical by working full-time while I look after the kids and household.
Okay, so the world is populated with many full-time working women. In our society, however, my wife does stand out because she has voluntary left the childcare and housework to me.
Let’s stop referring to her as “my wife” for she has a name; Gill. Gill tells me that she is sometimes the subject of disapproving looks or comments when she explains her domestic situation. Thankfully she has never experienced worse than that, but it is sad that a couple like us can’t make the choices we have without judgement.
There is another way to look at this. Although Gill makes enormous effort to attend school plays and so on, her work hours are very demanding. She isn’t able to get as involved with school life as she’d like. As regards our youngest’s nursery, she’s only visited it the once. Gill faces the economic reality usually faced by dads; she has to sacrifice time with her kids in their formative years to work and pay the bills.
On the one hand I know Gill is comfortable with this scenario. She is quite open about the fact she feels she’d struggle if expected to be a stay at home mum. As I’ve said before, I think she’s underselling herself but that’s the way she feels.
On the other hand, it’s not unheard of for Gill to walk through the front door an hour after I’ve put the toddler to bed and just as I’m getting the eldest into her pyjamas. When she makes it home before the children are in bed, the look on her face is priceless. She lights up and relaxes, no matter how tough the day has been. On those occasions I can tell just how big a sacrifice she is making.
For all I rant on about the issues I face as a stay at home father, it’s only right and proper I acknowledge just how much my amazing wife is sacrificing too. Her role may be atypical, but she does a huge amount for the family.
7 thoughts on “Sacrifices of the full-time working mother”
Working full time is a really inconvenience especially when it intereferes with parenting. I have found recently with challenges at work even when at home I have not really been present in mind and enjoy the time. I would jump at the chance to be a full time dad not because I think its easy but becaise I think it is a privilege biu alas I have the earning power, the bills need paying and we have made a team decision. Nice post and the gratitude towards Gill comes through 🙂
Thank you Tom. I also think I am in a privileged position. Truth is, each family does what it has to do and in your case, you have to bring in the cash. It’s just the way of the world, but it would be great if a woman could work full time and leave dad at home to run the household without either being judged. We’ll get there one day.
We all know how hard it is to juggle family life, work, relaxation and regardless of who earns the money, the behind the scenes just doesn’t function if we don’t get the balance right. For years I worked and managed the family home, with help from my husband when he wasn’t working and now as a SAH, i struggle as I don’t feel I’m pulling my weight now. No kids at home, no job to go to, I’m currently on holiday while my hubby is working and I feel guilty, but as he pointed out, without someone (ME) keeping the home fires burning (him working), he never would have got to this stage in his career and therefore I wouldn’t be able to rest and switch off now and that I’m to enjoy the next few years, because soon he will retire, we will probably have grandkids and the roles are likely to be reversed again.
What a lovely post. You are both doing an amazing thing, as are the majority of parents. I think it is easy though for the main carer parent to forget the sacrifices the main breadwinner is making and how tough life can be for them.
I think you’re right Sarah. I’m as guilty as the next person for getting annoyed at a wet towel being left on the floor or dirty clothes not being put in the washing basket. I’m not the one commuting three hours every day and it is important to remember your other half is tolerating this rubbish for the good of the family.
Ouch John! A three hour commute? That’s brave of Gill. I used to do a three hour commute every day to work. It just became too much for me after our first was born.I much preferred being home. We bought a house close to work and now I walk home (10 min). I try to balance the time I spend out of home by being ‘present’ as much as possible. When I get home I sit down on the floor and play until bath time. I feel I owe it to my son.
Definitely agree with you here, it is a sacrifice working long hours and being away from your kids. I do find the set-up with one parent working and the other staying home has it’s own benefits though – it does allow the other person to better concentrate in their career and potentially will help their career progression, and it allows the kids to have one full-on parent at their disposal no matter what.
We’ve got a similar set-up to yourself – I work and my husband is a SAHD. I find I don’t get disapproving comments (or at least I haven’t noticed), but my husband does sometimes, mainly from older family members. It is annoying as we’ve chosen this set-up because it is best for us, not to appease anyone else!