To be, or not to be (a stay-at-home mom); that is the question. At least for most of us, at some point when those two lines in all of their faint pink glory show themselves on a new pregnancy test, we find ourselves fantasizing about what motherhood will look like for us. Daydreams of walking hand in hand with your little one to the park start flashing. We stop for coffee on our way; I chase my curly-haired toddler around the swings, daring her or him to succumb to the tickle monster mommy. These were my dreams, on repeat as I settled into the mindset of the changing tide that was soon coming to our life.
I was raised in the Midwest. My father was a hard-working sales executive who spent many days on the road. My mother was a domestic engineer (read: stay-at-home mom) of the highest caliber. She took us to museums and beaches and kept us busy in various activities. My memories of time spent home with her are some of my best, some of my fondest. So it was no surprise that the option to re-create these memories with my pending baby should be in line with that reality.
There were many pros in my mind about staying home — notably, being there for our new child every day and in every way. I’d have a hand in developing their mind and discovering new adventures in our world that I would be integral in creating. Never missing a moment, it all sounded so romantic.
The icing on the cake was the discovery that our new baby was actually not one but two. A total mind bender as we sat trying to make sense of the two distinct blobs on the ultra sound. Twins! This certainly through a logistic wrench into those fantasies I had conjured up. We would not be stopping for coffee as both my hands would be full on the way to the park. It was all the same though; I may be torn in two different directions, but I would persevere, I would raise two well-rounded children. Ten weeks later, I would find out that I would actually be raising two well-rounded boys, perfect gentlemen. I was up for the challenge.
So I was surprised when it came time to discuss with my husband what life would look like once the boys were born. He pleaded I stay in my current profession and continue to work. Baffled by this bizarre line he drew in the sand, I shared my findings with him. After calculating the cost of sending two infants to a daycare center full-time, I would be dragging in pennies as far as contributing to the household. He was unmoved from his position.
I became annoyed by his unwavering opinion on this matter. My otherwise very accommodating, family first husband was completely throwing me for a loop. I pressed harder. Why? Tell me why you’d prefer I not stay home!
His answer: “It’s not about you and it’s certainly not about the money. It’s about them. It’s about the fact that we will be raising two boys that will eventually turn into men. It’s important to me that they see you and me as equals in life. I want them to see their mother as a strong woman, a partner with me in providing the necessary means to give them the world.”
Stunned by his reasoning, I smiled to myself. I had no idea he harbored such strong feelings as it pertained to our boys growing up understanding what it meant to be a mom, and more than a mom, a woman. It all made sense in that moment, the current climate of our world — #metoo, #timesup, all of it. We would be laying the foundation on how our boys were raised to view the differences and similarities in women and men, in boys and girls. To have those lines of gender roles diminished from the start was the best way to set the tone for their minds to grasp a concept that can only be taught by example.
It wasn’t my job to solely entertain them during the days, prepare their meals, or expose them to the world; rather it is our responsibility to show them what it means to be a mom, a woman, and an equal. So that one day they will find these same qualities not as unique but as normal in a future friend, spouse, or partner.
One year later, I find relief in my career, a reason to shower, a chance to enjoy a hot meal. I drop the twins off; my husband picks them up from daycare. He does the laundry (thank gawd), I throw together a somewhat balanced meal, he does the dishes. We do it, together. My boys are none the wiser that this hasn’t been the norm as long as civilized humans have existed.
I appreciate my husband for being my advocate when I couldn’t see past the here and now, for understanding the larger picture in an ever-evolving world and for helping me every day to raise two wild and smart little men.