Congratulations, stay-at-home Mama! As you all know at this point, Bailey will be staying home with Eleanor for the indefinite future. In this post, I will share some of my perspective.
A Dream Come True, And Sacrifice
Overall, Bailey's decision was a life altering choice for our family in the best imaginable way. As someone who grew up with a stay-at-home mother, it is a dream come true for me that Eleanor will grow up in her mom’s loving orbit. Bailey will be a constant in all her earliest and fondest childhood memories. Deep down, we are all biased by our upbringing. The option for one of us to stay home feels like the accomplishment of a lifetime. It is a privilege we absolutely do not take for granted, whatsoever.
At the same time, Bailey walking away from her chosen career is a sacrifice, too. It is a leap of faith to entrust one's spouse to provide financially, and I am grateful for her vote of confidence in me. Also, the breaks are few and the hours are LONG as a stay-at-home mom. It is not a vacation. Being a stay at home mom is really hard work.
Eleanor Stays Home, Too!
Also, selfishly, it makes my heart happy knowing that on the days when I work remotely our little girl will be around the house. Conversely, picturing the deafening silence with her off at daycare 40+ hours per week is unimaginable. Her sounds, whether cooing, giggling, yelping, or crying, fill up our house with her life. Bailey staying home means Eleanor being home! Rather than daycare drop-off and pick-up, my morning and evening routine involves walking with Eleanor and Lacey, it's amazing.
Sustainable Work-Family Balance
Furthermore, and again, selfishly, this decision fortified my sense of purpose returning to work. I am so lucky to wholeheartedly embrace work as distinctly my contribution to our family. Nothing could be more rewarding than providing for our family.
It also majorly unburdened my conscience related to work travel. Sure, it may be possible to stomach work travel with two working parents. But even the most saintly among us would bristle at shouldering too much, too often. Honestly, the feelings of guilt would have been inescapable and suffocating. Knowing the HUGE ask of handling daycare pickups/drop-offs, feedings, prepping bottles, nightly baths and reading bedtime stories, walking the dog 4x per day, finding time to eat, and oh yeah, working a full-time job, too! Absurd! Shoutout to single working parents, I am in awe.
I truly cannot understate how appreciative I am to have Bailey on my team. It is such a relief knowing that she is holding down the fort, whenever I am away from the home, whether at the office for the day or halfway across the globe. Parenting is the ultimate team effort. Our roles are distinct, but our goals are shared.
To be clear, Bailey does not work for me. We are a team, and when I am home, I am helping. Whether that means doing dishes, taking Lacey and Eleanor on walks, cleaning bottle parts, doing Eleanor's bath time, whatever to the case may be. As the "working spouse," I do everything possible to unburden Bailey whenever I am home. I genuinely look forward to contributing around the house. To quote Tim Robinson, "You sure about that?" might be crossing Bailey's mind as she reads. Admittedly there can be a disconnect between big picture eagerness and in-the-moment enthusiasm!
Something that cannot go unsaid, we are BOTH working, hence the quotations above. Even if only one of us is collecting a paycheck, it is our money, equally. We both contribute, equally, to the life our family enjoys. And honestly, my career might have otherwise proven unsustainable had Bailey made a different choice.
Lastly, at the risk of stating the obvious, staying home is not a vacation. Parental leave opened my eyes to that more than ever. A typical day home is quite the undertaking; easily the most exhausted I have ever been in my life. Yes, a good kind of exhausted, like after a long run, but totally spent nonetheless. Bailey has embraced the challenge like a champ, and her being home has softened my transition back to work immensely.
Blessed to Have a Choice
We are undeniably fortunate to have the financial ability for Bailey to stay home and forego her 9-5 salary. In so doing, we are sparing our family the cumulative strain of repeatedly asking the world of her, particularly whenever I travel for work. It is too much to ask, one can only endure so many waves before the levee breaks! Avoiding that dynamic unto itself is a total game-changer for our relationship. Her decision to stay home is the ultimate act of selflessness, putting family first and empowering me to pursue my career long-term.
For those without the option to forego an income, at the minimum, honest acknowledgement of all that you ask of your spouse is a must. Ultimately, if work proves too demanding, whether due to travel or otherwise, foregoing promotions or switching to an industry with greater flexibility may be necessary. I am grateful to Bailey that I need not confront such difficult choices. However, that does not mean the abandonment of work-life balance (topic for a future post). Prioritizing family is no less important and I have every intention of being a highly-involved parent.
Admittedly, this is the surface-level version. Decisions like this are not made overnight. It goes without saying, this was Bailey's decision to make, and I could not be prouder of her for making this leap. I offered my encouragement, love and support, and as the math guy in our marriage, crunched the numbers to determine we could make it work financially. I could not be happier for Bailey, nor more grateful for the choice she made for our family. It is truly amazing. Congratulations on your new job, Eleanor is one lucky little girl!