Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What Could I Possibly Have Been Doing All Day?

It has been difficult for me to finish (alone) unpacking our house with all four kids. home. all. of. the. time. After coming home from his first day back at work yesterday, my husband said to me, "Liz, I know you've been working all day, but there is absolutely no evidence that you were. What were you doing all day?"


Normally, I would respond with something funny, and laugh hard (because usually I think I'm pretty funny, even if my husband doesn't) to avoid an argument. But, I was totally caught off guard, and, plus, I really felt like I had not stopped moving since getting out of bed that morning, so I immediately started rattling off all of the things I had been doing all day.

My husband's facial expression did not change as he stood quietly just watching me wriggle and stumble as I brainstormed for more duties that I had accomplished all day.

Then I heard myself say, "...and, I had to help our 2-year old go to the bathroom probably three times!"

I stopped. I felt defeated as the realization hit me that my husband had no idea of how long it takes us (a party of at least three: me, the stubborn-I-want-to-do-everything-by-myself-and-at-my-own-speed 2-year old, and the teething-and-always-wanting-to-be-held 11-month old) to visit the bathroom; and that my husband would not accept this duty as a valid accomplishment.

I quickly left the scene of his investigation.

As I thought about it later, I totally understood that it must be difficult for my husband, after a day of doctoring, healing, solving problems, making diagnoses, preventing death, etc. etc. etc., to come home to a house that looks exactly the same as it did when he left. I'm sure he feels like he has accomplished quite a bit at the end of the day.

But, really, it is a huge challenge, and accomplishment, for me to ensure that his children survive the day. This includes (among many other things) helping them to avoid starving, contracting a serious, infectious disease, or seriously hurting themselves or each other. He should be relieved, amazed, and grateful that his children are alive, happy, and thriving when he arrives home after work each day.

Really, I might have to explain this to him. Will he get it? Probably not.


Jeff and ReAnn said...

Amen. You are so sweet. If Jeff ever says anything like that (which he has) I quickly reply with (the line from the blue comedy tour gig) "Do you want to know what went on at this house while you were at your 'JOB'"? Jeff always knows that I have had a rough day and realistically he also knows that he cannot handle the 3 kids for longer than an hour without destroying the house. So GREAT JOB. And I agree is the kids are healthy, not dead, and going potty it was a GREAT DAY!

Barb's blessings said...

When I was Stk Primary President I went to orient a new ward president at her home at about 4:00 pm. I was still there at abt 5:30 when her husband came home from work. He came in, kissed her, took their baby from her and the first words out of his mouth were, "WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP?

I thought to myself, this is what heaven is like.

I love your husband but he needs to get a reality check. You are a stellar mother. You are a smart, loving, hard-working mother. You are doing a wonderful JOB. It's a job . . . the hardest job there is. To a stay-at-home mother, glamour is something you use to clean your carpet. Tasks are never finished. There is always more laundry, dishes, and messes. You don't know if what you are doing is effective or right until a couple of decades later when your children have children of their own and they finally "get it." That's why grandchildren are the greatest gift of a life well-lived. They are the pay check. It's not just about them, it's about watching your children parent and seeing what you and God have wrought.

Please tell Jared from his aunt Barb--who has been on both ends of the working world (home and out of the home)--it's much easier to go to work everyday than it is to stay home with four (or two in my case) small children.

The only thing he should say when he walks through the door after saving lives all day is, "I love you and what can I do to help?"

Love you, AB

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Katy said...

I had a similar situation once where my cousin asked what I did all day, as if my daily life were just a bed of roses. I struggled, as you did, to really get the point across that what I do may not SOUND like much, but it is an enormous job just to go through the daily grind of being a mother and house wife. Sadly, I think there is very little hope of people grasping this until they have been there themselves. But good luck in getting your point across should you chose to explain it!