Imagine this: You and your husband crawl out of bed in the morning because you can both hear the baby is up. You brush your teeth and get ready for your day which begins with a work out at home since your workday doesn’t allow time for the gym. Your husband stays in his underwear and scuttles off the make a bottle for the baby. While you work out he has the baby in the highchair and the other children in various stages of getting dressed. You shower and get dressed for your 7.30 meeting while his hair is still matted to one side of his head. He is sitting on the floor with a cup of coffee playing a game of Candyland and trying to teach the baby to crawl. The notes for your meeting are running through your head and you can hear the sound of the beginning of a long days worth of texts and emails hitting your phone. As you leave out the door with a breakfast bar everyone who can walk scrambles to the door for a goodbye kiss and a tug at your skirt. Your husband shuffles everyone back in the house with his coffee in one hand and the baby in another and waves goodbye through the window. This isn’t his day off or a brief spate of unemployment. This is everyday because you’re the one that works.
Whether this scenario works for you as a woman probably depends upon a couple of things. The first thing is the quality of relationship you have with your husband. I’m going to guess that it is important to you that your husband is working towards something. And not just anything, but something the two of you mutually value like, the care of your children, the laundry, the house cleaning, and (let’s throw this in for kicks) all of the cooking. If he is the one to stay home, then it is vital to you that he works towards the good of the family. He should, day to day, contribute to the overall health and success of what the two of you have created.
The second part of this picture are your own personal motivations outside of the home. Do you want to work? Really? Are you sure? You, like my wife, are probably very good at what you do and that is why as a family you even have the choice to live on one salary. Being good at what you do, there should be a good deal of satisfaction and pride in your work. But, you won’t be home as much. You’re going to miss your kids. And socially, as a mother, people will wonder why you’re the one to work. Don’t you want to see your kids?
Whether it is the husband or wife who works both people need to feel the other one is working towards the common goal. That is fundamental to any marriage and every family whether one person works or both work. It is the glue that keeps the bond of trust together. I have known other couples that tried to have the father stay home. Some of them didn’t work and it didn’t work for this reason. If you as the working mother walk in from a long day at the office and the house is a mess, the laundry is not done, and MacDonald’s is on the dinner table I’m going to guess that happy is not going to be your first emotion.
If you saw some of the meals I cook my wife you would understand our arrangement. I want to impress her. I want her to walk into a house that is clean and peaceful. I want our weekends to be free of errands to run and chores to complete. I want to have taken care of all the shopping, doctors appointments, and school needs. I want her to be able to brag about me so that she can feel proud of who she married in front of her friends. I want to work as hard as she does at creating our life together because, at the heart of it, I’m so grateful to be the one who is home.
So, what do you think?