I've reached the end of another long day being a stay-at-home mom to four kids. I'm standing by the front window of our house, my eyes scanning up and down the street, praying to finally see any sign of my husband's car. Each minute feels like an hour, because I haven't spoken to another adult (besides the barista at the Starbucks drive-thru window) since my husband left for work 13 hours ago. At this point in the evening, I've bathed and fed four little people. I've read the pop-up book my son loves probably 15 times. I did two loads of laundry, changed at least a dozen diapers, emptied the dishwasher twice, cleaned two bathrooms, fielded maybe 20 homework questions, played the match game with my kindergartner, searched for exactly three "missing" Barbie outfits, changed my baby's outfit four times, unpacked then repacked three school lunches, and sat down for no more than three consecutive minutes.
I'll never forget what he said when I first asked him what he thought I did at home all day with our kids. He actually looked me right in the eyes and thanked me.
When my husband finally pulls into the driveway, I'm half ecstatic, half resentful. What took so long? I can't wait to hand the baby off to him and maybe take a shower before I have to breastfeed again. But then I feel guilty when he walks through the door. He looks tired, too, and now has to be superdad and help put our brood to bed after what was probably a long and stressful day at work. Yet I know my husband considers my job as a SAHM to be much harder than his, because he's told me so countless times.
I'll never forget what he said when I first asked him what he thought I did at home all day with our kids. While I was somewhat expecting the typical answer of "watch TV" or him telling me I have it made, he actually looked me right in the eyes and thanked me. "I could never do what you do," he said. "You do everything."
This, even though he commutes for untold hours a week. He has to get up hours before sunrise to make early meetings. He often skips lunch to work straight through. He never gets more than six hours of sleep at night (and six hours is a really good night). And still, my husband looks at what I deal with as a mom to our kiddos and thinks it's the harder job by far.
I feel so lucky that he sees the struggles of being home with the kids. He sees how I go days without having time to wash my hair. He notices that I've been wearing the same yoga pants for more than 48 hours. And he admires me for my dedication to our family, instead of asking me what's for dinner or to clean one of his shirts. He's so aware of how grueling it can be to be the primary caregiver of four children day in and day out. When they're sick, crabby, mouthy, tired, overtired, oversugared, hungry, bruised, bleeding, potty-training, or puking.
I put blood, sweat, and tears into every single day of being a SAHM, and my husband sees me. I'm not sure how I would deal if he didn't, because it makes me feel so darn appreciated and justified in any stresses I have during my day. He gets it that the baby pooping right as we're about to go out the door to get to school is stressful, not just some silly thing I complained about.
When my husband walks in the door, he takes the baby. He tells me to go — go shower, do yoga, call my sister back, anything that I need to do to recharge for tomorrow and feel like an actual human, not just a walking burp cloth. He says, "I'll take care of dinner." He may have had a dozen people yell at him that day at work, but he knows I was up at 3 a.m. when our daughter had a bad dream. He knows I haven't gone to the bathroom without the door closed since two Sundays ago. He. Sees. Me.
I hope every partner out there is as grateful for their stay-at-home spouse. That support makes all the difference between feeling like you're just wiping butts all day and no one cares, and knowing you're doing a really important and hard job of raising little humans. Not everyone can do it, and my husband will be the first person to tell you that.