I recently had one of those really tough stay-at-home mom days—the type where so many little things go wrong that you’re ready to curl up in the fetal position and call it quits before lunchtime even rolls around. Nothing particularly terrible happened, but I spent much of the day on the verge of tears. My toddler was refusing to listen. My 10-month-old daughters both ruined their clothing by smearing their breakfast all over themselves (and me). We were late to preschool when unexpected road work forced us to detour. The doorbell rang while my girls were sleeping, thus cutting their usual 20-minute excuse for a nap down to 5. And it just seemed like no matter what I did, at one point or another, I had a cranky child crying, whining, or demanding my attention.
By the time my husband got home from work that night—late, I might add—I was in such a foul mood I couldn’t even bring myself to have a normal conversation, or even ask how his day went. When he pressed to try to understand what was wrong, I snapped.
“You have no idea what kind of day I had,” I barked at him.
But in reality, he did know, because as he later explained once I’d managed to calm down, his day had been similarly upsetting and frustrating.
While I was busy juggling our children, he was busy running from meeting to meeting (two of which he was expected to magically attend at the same time), while attempting to solve several major issues for his company at once. Like me, he skipped lunch due to a lack of time, and like me, all he wanted to do once nighttime rolled around was put an end to a pretty bad day. The only difference was that he wanted support, and wanted to support me, whereas all I wanted to do was feel sorry for myself and bitch.
It was then that I realized: Most of the time, our days aren’t so dissimilar. Yes, I often have three small children screaming at me at the same time, demanding my attention and beating the emotional crap out of me when I’m unable to read their minds, or give them exactly what they need. But my husband goes through the same thing all the time (as do most working parents).
My husband often comes home worn out and frustrated because he’s got three different people demanding three different things from him all at the same time. Granted, they’re probably not sobbing or throwing tantrums, but in many ways, both of our jobs depend on the same underlying skill set: the ability to multitask, thrive under pressure, and manage expectations.
As much as I adore my children, I often find myself bemoaning the stay-at-home routine and the emotional challenges it hits me with. And there are times when I feel like I’m much better equipped to deal with the stresses of office life than the ones I typically encounter. But then I think of my husband’s daily grind, and realize that working outside the home is not exactly a picnic. His routine may come with a very different set of demands, but that doesn’t make it any easier or less draining, and there’s no reason why we can’t commiserate with one another when things don’t go as smoothly as planned.
At the end of the day, we’re each doing our part to take care of our family. It’s hard work no matter how you look at it, and we deserve each other’s mutual respect and support. And wine. We definitely both deserve wine.