Once upon a time, there was a stressed out family. What family isn’t stressed out? Among other titles, Not-Tom-Brady used to be a house painter. This came in very handy when he moved in with me into my broken down house built in 1928. He immediately started painting rooms and making it look livable. Ok the spelling of “livable” looks wrong but apparently its right. I’m sorry but it should be “liveable”. Anyway, moving on…
I was working in a field position where I would drive anywhere from 30 minutes to 6 hours to a client, have a meeting, then drive back. This was usually 4 days a week. I created my own schedule but it was a lot of very long days. Back then Bub was in elementary school and was in an after school program. Gigi was pretty much a baby and was in a daycare that closed at 6pm. To say making it back to pick them up in time was difficult was an understatement. As a woman trying to be a leader at a corporation, you never want to say “Sorry Client X I have to leave because I have to pick up my kids”. I never said it, but not saying it took a LOT of work. Never mind getting them places on time. Two different schools, 6 years apart in age, and I had to meet A CLIENT ON TIME. Kids always act exactly as you want them too when you’re leaving to meet an important client.
This work involved me asking friends to pick up my kids. Great! But they worked too, so in exchange I would need to watch their darling children, in my abundance of spare time. Nothing says “day off” like watching small children you didn’t give birth to destroy your daughter’s Barbie Dream House. And because: Children No: Jager. *sigh You start to hate other parents at the school who seem to have time. They are always there on time, put together and totally annoying… “Oh Marie Christine you’re late for Girl Scouts AGAIN you know they don’t stay young forever… family first.” Shut it cookie-whore. UGH.
Not-Tom-Brady’s painting job was physically demanding. After you paint for years it takes a toll on your body. Wake up at 5am, get to the job by 6:30am, work until it’s too hot… or while it’s too hot… let shoulders slowly tear until they no longer work. It’s a fun gig. So by the time you get home from this day, the first thing you want do is make dinner, do laundry, help kids with homework, mow the lawn… right? No, you need SLEEP. But you don’t get it. You try to do all of those other things and slowly realize that life is a treadmill of short sleeps, early mornings, torn shoulders, laundry, kid bathing and mac & cheese making. In bed by 8pm was a survival necessity.
Both being so busy and tired, weekends were jammed with laundry, house maintenance, maybe a quick trip to the park. Who knows maybe we would have a minute to pet the dog? (RIP Oscar). But usually not so much. With stressed out parents come stressed out children, with stressed out children come stressed out parents, and so on.
Then a magical thing happened… yadda yadda yadda, I got a job teaching at night. This job gave us enough money to live not quite poor but almost poor, but with Not-Tom-Brady quitting his job. We reached a point, which many families do, where the money is just not worth the quality of life that goes along with never being available or free. We said let’s do it… I started working at the college and he stopped painting houses. Gigi came home from daycare, and Mr-Mom-Not-Tom-Brady was born.
At first it was really weird. Not-Tom-Brady would wake up at 5am ready to work, every… single… day. He actually still wakes up at 5am every day. I would still drive back from NY or Providence quickly in fear that I wouldn’t make it to the daycare by 6pm, even though we no longer used a daycare. It took me over a year to break that habit.
We would SEE each other while we were not doing chores. Imagine.. we saw each other, and spent time together, while we were NOT doing chores. That had only happened on occasion but now it was happening every single day. I would get home from work and the kids homework would be done. Everyone would be playing games or watching movies. They were smiling and laughing. It used to be me yelling orders and people scurrying to get things done with the very small window between work and kid bedtime. Gigi would now look over at me from her chair with her wet, slicked back hair because he had been given a bath BEFORE I GOT HOME. It was like some kind of bizzaro land that I wasn’t sure how to navigate. So, do I come in and just… sit down? I couldn’t remember a time I had actually done that. Even before kids there was work, and grad school and more work. What do people do when they… sit down??????
GAYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY (and also true)
Now one might think that Not-Tom-Brady and I have sort of a role reversal thing going on, but it’s more than that. When you think of a typical stay-at-home mom you think of her typical day to day activities and the fact that the couple doesn’t have to share those anymore the mom is now responsible for all of them. Yay for the dad! Well I have a secret for you about a Mr. Mom instead of a Mrs. Mom… When you have a Mrs. Mom the Mr. Dad comes home after work and doesn’t do *a lot* but he still may do things like take out the garbage, get rid of gross things Mrs. Mom doesn’t want to touch, mow the lawn etc. When you have a Mr. Mom… they do all of the mom stuff AND ALL OF THE DAD STUFF. This is like the fucking lottery of role reversals. Hey hon you do all the mom stuff, k? And in return… you do all the dad stuff too, k? I’ll be over here typing things and sipping my bloody mary.
Not-Tom-Brady’s Bitmoji face is eerily accurate. There is a jager on the rocks behind the words on that tray.
It’s been quite some time now that we’ve been doing this. I’ve taken on much more work responsibility at both of my jobs, so my availability becomes less and less every year. I was still doing *some* things up until recently. For example, I was cleaning the cat’s litter box and feeding her. I came back from LA last January and the cat would not stop pouncing me when I was trying to sleep. It turned out it was because she was starving. I won’t get into the state of her litter box…. So that responsibility had to go too. Not-Tom-Brady is lucky enough to have litter box duty and Gigi is trying, somewhat successfully, not to starve the cat.
Technically I “vacuum” but this involves hitting the power button on “Deedee” our robot vacuum cleaner. I’m sure there are other things I do but I’m too tired to remember what they are so they don’t count. We moved into our house just about a year ago. I can honestly say that I went and picked out our washer and dryer that week and have not seen them since. For all I know Not-Tom-Brady could have sold them and started sending the laundry out to be done by a cleaning company. I have no idea. Nor do I plan to find out. I think the washer is white… that’s the extent of my possible knowledge of said dryer. I have done the dishes occasionally, but NTB prefers that I refrain since I’m apparently awful at it, or at least not as good at it. The things I mostly do now are work and then point at things that I would like to be done by someone else, usually NTB. That counts.
Occasionally NTB is unavailable and I need to step in and take on some additional responsibility for the short term or for one moment. The kids never let me forget that I’m doing every single thing completely wrong… Mrs. Dad sucks at being Mrs. Mom.
An incomplete “Daddy doesn’t do it this way” list:
- Make scalloped potatoes
- Drop off at the right spot at school
- Fold and Separate Laundry
- Slice apples
- Make Ramen noodles
- Park at the right bus stop
- Snack routines
- Playing games
- Having fun
- TV Choices (South Park? Seriously?)
- Pack Lunches
- Let the dogs out
- Pull into the garage
- Hold the door open
- Open water bottles
- Decide when bed time is
- Play with the dogs
- Set the table
- Knowing what grade you are in
- Remembering music lesson money
- Getting ready for swimming
- Make breakfast
- Wake them up in the morning
- Piano practice
- Preparing any food “correctly”
Live life however it works best for you. But no matter what, live life! Life is too short for screaming about laundry all weekend. Girls… be self-sufficient and the world is your oyster…