As of today, Mother's Day 2015, I've been the primary care giver for our children for 259 days. On August 25, 2014, Mickelle and I officially switched roles. She returned to the workforce, and I became the first responder to knee scrapes, illnesses, homework and housework.
On the surface this was a big change for me. I frequently worked 10-12 hour days in the corporate world, and occasionally traveled for work. I now realize the irony...it's not that different.
While I was working Mickelle was running the house. I knew she was busy and never questioned if she was working hard. Our family ran smoothly. But to be honest, I never understood or appreciated how busy she really was. Because of our role reversal, I do now. I'm living it.
I'm slammed on a day to day basis...and I mean day to day because you can't plan when a kid is going to be sick or will need something at school.
Here's what a typical Monday-Friday looks like for me:
- I wake up and fix the family breakfast (usually eggs, crepes, waffles, or pancakes)
- Mick and I work together to get the kids off to school
- Technically I'm free for the next 3.5 hours. I'm the only one home. In a Utopian world this would be "me-time". I once had dreams of using the this time to workout daily, read, learn, consult, and take care of things for the family. Whatever I wanted to do. While I am able to get a run in a few times a week, Utopia is not reality. A good chunk of this time is generally dedicated to doing work for the family and it always varies. This involves anything from grocery shopping, paying bills (which is done in person), going to the bank (also done in person), researching and solving some kind of expat issue (like our car's registration in the states), taxes, and occasionally helping out with something at the school.
- I meet Mick and the kids for lunch at school.
- Tag is in Kindergarten which is only half day, so he and I hang out playing games and reading, unless he has a playdate at our house.
- 1.5 hours later Ela gets home from school and I get the kids snacks, help out with homework or hangout while she is having a playdate with friends, usually at our house.
- 1.5 hours later Mick gets home. We generally chat and shortly after that I'm working on dinner.
- We have a family dinner and hangout a bit before Mick and I jointly work to put the kids to bed.
The above assumes that no one is sick, that there's no special activity at school involving parents and that there's no teacher in-service day. Never before was I this in-tune to the school schedule - I've lost the last four Fridays to school events! On any of those days, I'm still on point for everything above, but that 3.5 hour time slot to get things done is shot and compressed into other gaps.
Don't get me wrong, I'm not complaining. The past 9 months have been awesome! Nearly everyday I get to have 3 meals a day with my entire family! I've grown closer than ever to my kids. It's irreplaceable. I love it, and I now understand why Mick was always so busy when I was working.
As busy as I am now, Mick had even more on her plate. She did the laundry (I farm that out), she did all of the cooking (outside of breakfast, I also farm much of this out), plus she had to do the dishes (also farmed out). She did all of that while always staying focused on being a Mom first. She did an incredible job, and I now fully get it!
Our family dynamic will change again in mid-June when Mick stops teaching (only 42 more days, but who's counting).
I love you, Mickelle. You are an awesome Mom. Feliz día de la Madre!
Footnote: I still don't understand how my own Mom did it. As a single mom, while working full time, she raised two boys and one of them was no angel. I love you too, Mom. Happy Mother's Day!