I recently returned from spending Passover at a beautiful hotel in California with my two kids. One of the great perks of being married to a musician (and don’t throw a virtual shoe at me; there are negatives to being a wife in music life, too) is that so far, I get to go away for Passover, and thus bypass all the meticulous cleaning, multi-meal cooking, and various other daunting tasks that the holiday entails.
Now, I had realized that once we returned home, if we wanted to eat, we’d have to actually cook something ourselves; there would be no lavish tea room to quell hunger pangs between meals and I correctly anticipated seven loads of laundry (my baby likes to spit up on a brand-new dress approximately three seconds after I change her into it).
One thing I didn’t anticipate was the physical ache I felt during my first day back at work. It was an actual, tangible longing for…time with my kids. Spending each and every day with them for 10 days was a novelty, and despite the occasional difficulty in sharing one room with an active toddler and baby who refused to sleep through the night like Dr. Ferber promised me she would (I respectfully request my $16.99 back, Richard Ferber, M.D.), and little “me” time, I realize now: I absolutely loved it. Even while I was wringing my hair at my son’s daily temper tantrum in the dining room when the pancakes yielded too few chocolate chips, I was present in a way I, and many parents, don’t usually get to be due to full-time jobs outside the home.
As a mother with a job that entails me being out of the house for 9 to 10 hours a day, I count a typical weekday lucky if I can chat with my toddler for 10 minutes as I give him breakfast, get my lunch ready, and start prep for that night’s dinner, tidy various piles of clothes, toys, clothes for toys, etc., and simultaneously balance a bottle for my daughter with my chin. Many gracias to Dora and Diego, who help a lot with allowing me to multitask, though I wish I didn’t need to rely on televised distraction so much (and that is said by an avid fan of television). The evenings are more of the same: squeezing in grocery shopping and other errands, while I throw dinner together and concurrently beg my son to just try something that isn’t fried or in the shape of a dinosaur. The weekends, while of course providing more quality time, still have me running around fitting in all the errands that didn’t get done during the weekday evenings.
This isn’t leading to a plaintive cry of how I wish I could be a stay-at-home mother, for a few reasons. I love my professional work, and I’m not just saying that because my boss may be reading this. I really do love the atmosphere and nature of my job. Mostly, though, stay-at-home mothers (or fathers, especially if you’re reading this from certain parts of Brooklyn) have an incredible amount of housework to do as well. The feeding, watering, and clothing of children and spouses takes a lot of time and energy, and I doubt most stay-at-home parents are at home, all day, with their kids (and if they are, I bet Dora and Diego visit there, too). At a hotel for Passover, your hardest chore likely involves choosing between a steak and a chicken entrée. Your only job is to spend quality time with your family. It’s hard, and there’s arguing and tantrums and tears and yes, spit up.
It’s awesome. And I miss it.