Written by Tena
Long before I ever met my husband or even entertained the idea of getting married or having children, there was one thing I was certain of; being a Stay-at-Home-Mom was not for me. There was something so daunting about having the primary responsibility to ensure that one’s child is fed, groomed, socialized, and developed into a healthy and productive adult. As if those responsibilities aren’t enough, add on the accountability to ensure the entire household runs smoothly and I pictured shoes that were just too big for me to try on, let alone fill. The shoes are still too big to fill but my perspective on the meaning of this role has changed greatly.
Shortly after finding out I was expecting, my husband lost his job (and by “shortly,” I mean one week). We had always discussed that he would be an awesome Stay-at-Home-Dad and this seemed serendipitous. We assumed he could take the time to paint the nursery and get the house ready for our new arrival. While that plan was good on paper, our road had several detours along the way that made his new employment status a true blessing.
We could never have predicted the itinerary of the journey we have had in the last 14 months which included the diagnoses of our son’s congenital heart defect (CHD) at pregnancy week 20, bed rest, an emergency C-section, three heart surgeries for our son and a total of 50 days in the hospital for our little fighter. Our experience has made me realize that when it comes to children, nothing is predictable, and the role of parent morphs and adapts to the needs of our children. Though we didn’t plan for it we have accepted and appreciate our experiences and this is our definition of normal. As tough as this was to go through, life around us continued on. There were bills to pay and I was lucky to have a job that needed my return.
My husband flourished into the role of Stay-at-Home-Dad. My return to work enabled him to get into his own rhythm, develop his own schedule and bond with our son in ways he couldn’t while I was “hovering.” He managed our son through colic, a diagnosed dairy allergy, a healing chest, and a feeding tube. He made it to all of the cardiology appointments, in home health care sessions, and the baby shots. He figured out bath time and feeding time and diaper changes and play time. Doing two daily loads of laundry, boiling bottles, doing the dishes and even finding time to run the vacuum has become part of his daily routine. Settling into the position of Stay-at-Home-Dad has its challenges for my husband, but from my perspective he has aced it! I am so happy and grateful for all that he does and I’m now in awe of my husband and all Stay-at-Home Parents.
I now know firsthand that I couldn’t juggle all that my husband does. I love the way my son looks at my husband across the room. I am thankful for the clean house when I walk in the door. I’m amazed to find that my son would prefer being fed and comforted by his Daddy over me. There are times when this makes me sad, but I relish in those special moments that are just for my son and me.
I am so lucky to be able to put him to sleep every night by dancing around the living room. I am delighted to introduce him to a new food each week. I love that Saturday nights he cuddles with me all night on the couch so my hubby can get a peaceful night of sleep. I get to experience him getting so excited to see me when I walk through the door at night and I know that I can look forward to that for years to come.
I used to think I was a selfish person for knowing that I wouldn’t be good in the role of Stay-at-Home-Momma. After watching it all from the front row I’ve realized that recognizing that is the best gift I could have given my son. We are lucky enough to have figured out a way for my husband to stay at home to raise our son and each day I feel blessed to have a husband who is so nurturing and loving who perfectly fits those big shoes that are needed for this uniform. He fills them well and I tip my hat to all of you who are Stay-at-Home Parents.
One last thought before closing out this post; family dynamics come in all shapes and sizes. I’ve shared my experience but it is just one scenario. No matter what your family set up is, having a little life to take care of has made me realize just how special each of us are and what an honor it is to have the title of Mommy or Daddy.
Tena and her best friend (and hubby) had their first child in July, 2011. Their little guy has a congenital heart defect and he is one tough little cookie; don’t ever think about calling him sick though – “his plumbing is just different.” Tena is an animal loving vegetarian and is excited to teach her son about compassion and the importance of volunteer work. She secretly hopes her son will be left handed like his momma. She is the Online Marketing Director for Step2.