He stormed out, leaving me livid in the dark bedroom. My husband has always wanted either me or him to stay home full-time with the baby. My parents and grandparents are even more intense about it, believing that a child will be colossally screwed up if she isn’t raised by a stay-at-home mom (must be the mom, not the dad, the Bible says so). I grew up with this belief, and so a little piece of me already feels selfish for working the two (count them, two!) hours a week during which a babysitter comes over to watch my daughter while I retreat to my home office. But my desire for success, a creative outlet and money is starting to override my desire to be the perfect SAHM.
When I was toying with the idea of getting a full-time job a few months ago, I asked my dad, who was a very successful businessman, in an attempt to assuage my working parent guilt, “did you feel like you missed out on a lot of my childhood because you worked full time?” And get this: he didn’t understand the question. That’s right. And why would he feel like he missed out, anyway? When a cultural role has been prescribed to you and you fulfill it, you don’t have to feel like you let anyone down. He got to be a successful businessman and father. My mom only got to be a mother. It’s a no-brainer which one is the more balanced role, and in my opinion, the more desirable.
I’m trying to really look at this objectively, though. It’s easy to say I’m just experiencing “mom guilt” and either talk shit about the people who criticize me or shut up about it and start self-medicating with vodka. So let’s try and put my circumstances into perspective.
My husband works 50 hours a week at job he’s not passionate about and comes home to a baby who he engages with for no more than 15 minutes before she starts screaming for me. I, on the other hand, have a baby who adores me in addition to more hobbies and passions than I have time for. My complaint is that I need to fulfill these dreams; my husband’s complaint is that he doesn’t even have dreams. I’m not certain which is worse exactly.