AS YOU ARE WELL AWARE, I have a hard time feeling like what I do is Valuable. Insert the regular qualifiers, defensive statements, blah blah blah. You know I like being a stay at home mom, I just have a hard time feeling like it MATTERS.
But! I have been rethinking this.
See, Phillip has done some pretty impressive stuff since his forgetting-what-day-his-final-is-on college era. He worked for himself. He survived layoffs. He went after raises and promotions. He got his masters degree. He found himself in charge of a Fancy Shmantzy Project requiring heaps of business travel. And this whole time I've felt like because he works so hard, because he's so aggressive, because he keeps pushing himself, I get to stay home with our three perfect children and spend my days going to parks and Target and libraries and checking my email and planning blog conferences in far away cities and hanging out with my friends whenever I feel like it. BELIEVE ME, I am WELL AWARE what a drag it is being a SAHM some days, but that's honestly how I look at it 95% of the time. Like I'm getting away with something. Like if Phillip found out what I really do all day, he'd want to trade. (WE CAN'T HAVE THAT HAPPEN!!!)
It's this weird thing where I simultaneously LOVE and JEALOUSLY GUARD my position in our family, but it butts up against my desire to Look Like I'm Doing Something Impressive (aka: THREENESS, GAH.) Do I want to do anything else? NOPE! Do I hate it when people ask me what I Do? YEP!
Some of this has to do, I'm sure, with the fact that I wanted kids sooner than Phillip did. Although, let's be honest, if it weren't for me, Phillip might STILL be deciding whether it's a good time to have a baby. (Note to anxious men: THERE IS NEVER A GOOD TIME. GET OVER IT.) So yeah, there are ways that I feel like I insisted on this life and forced him to provide it. eek!
Then this year happened. Including December of 2011, Phillip has traveled every single month this year except for June. He made up for June with two trips in September, two in October, and another two planned for November.
But after that? PHILLIP STARTS A NEW JOB.
I've known for weeks now, but I couldn't tell you. I KNOW! I don't want to say too much about the process, but it's been a lot of work, a lot of waiting around, a lot of wondering, a lot of frustration, and a lot of conversations about what he's worth. The week after Thanksgiving he starts work at an entirely new company with a more relaxed vibe and minimal, if any, business travel. There is seriously only one negative thing I can think of about Phillip's new job and it's that he'll have a longer commute. But hey, that beats a monthly week-long trip to the East Coast, right?
As we've figured all this out and hashed out every possible scenario, it's dawned on me that... well, because I do what I do, Phillip has been able to do what he does.
I have no doubt that if I were working full time in the sort of job I imagined I'd have way back when, Phillip would still be reaching his career goals. But he'd be negotiating with me every time he had to work late or travel or take a phone call or study or meet his group to work on the project or go out to dinner with muckety mucks or ANYTHING. I mean, this whole time it's just been a given - one we are both happy with - that I can watch the kids and take care of things at home. I started paying the bills and managing the budget years ago. I do most of the cooking and nearly all of the shopping. He can make choices about last minute travel and working late and other work emergencies without ever worrying about childcare. He is free to focus on his career and all the ways he wants to grow professionally because I am taking care of everything else.
I hope that doesn't sound like I'm resentful or jealous, or like Phillip doesn't do anything at home. I wouldn't choose to do anything else and Phillip is an awesome dad and holds up his end of housekeeping. Seriously, I'm always wondering when he's going to realize how great it is to stay home and fight me for the honor.
I've always been AWARE of this, but I really don't think it was until we got the job offer news that I started to feel like it was TRUE. I wasn't just managing all this stuff that he didn't want to deal with in the first place. I wasn't just hanging around while he did all the hard work. I wasn't getting away with something, I wasn't burdening him with a family. Because I do what I do, he's been able to do so much. I feel so awesome about this, you guys! I GENUINELY FEEL like of COURSE what I've been doing is worthwhile, because look what its made possible! That's a huge huge thing for me.
Although, really, who cares about that - PHILLIP HAS A NEW JOB! You might never have to read a whiny blog post about solo parenting again! Well, after Thanksgiving that is. And I guarantee nothing. But you should be pretty happy about this turn of events. Really, there should be a definite decrease in angst around these parts.
(Thanks for making it possible for ME to get through those weeks.)