Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Group Therapy - SAHPs unite!

I have been a slacker. I have been a worker bee. I have followed. I have led. I have done what I was told to do. I have ordered people to do things against their will. I have done nothing. I have done everything. In between of all me, a man who has worked and lost his job.

I have had extremely stressful jobs and I have had jobs that seemed like I was in paradise. All of that in which I experienced with previous jobs pales in comparison to my current...profession...that I am in, but I can say that what I have learned is not, and never can be, applicable to what I do now.

I am primarily responsible for just one other person for a good portion of the day - from 8 am until about 3 pm and then I am responsible an additional person...sometimes 2. That is when I pick up my older daughter from school, and sometimes I will pick up my wife's best friend's son. The person I spoke of earlier is my younger daughter.

My daughters are literally night and day in terms of personality and how they handle stress/situations. The older one is laid-back but studious and voracious with reading and TV. The younger one is strong-willed and extremely resourceful. Where my older fears to tread, my younger will jump in without any hesitation.

Why am I talking about all of this? How does all this factor into this post? Here's the salient point - what I have learned in all of the jobs I've worked, on all of the committees I've served, and with all the politics of clubs' board of directors is totally useless in the domestic management world.

I can talk about the gender switching ramifications but I'll leave that to others. I can talk about the difficult transition as a man but I'll leave that to others. I can talk about emotional conflicts but I'll leave that to others. What I want to focus on instead is the dynamics of a family with a male SAHP (Stay At Home Parent)...right down to the youngest member.

My younger has learned what "Just a minute" means and when it doesn't...and she is not even 3 years old. When she has ascertained which one I meant, she will harass me until I do what she wants. No, I am not wrapped around her finger. LOL My older has understood what has happened and she has not felt weird or uncomfortable with the change.

However, my wife has chafed at her current role as the breadwinner because she would rather be home and do occasional job assignments when needed. She had that before I lost my job. She made the transition to a full time job and I've never felt threatened or emasculated by her salary.

The dynamics has changed. I used to come home from work and unload. I used to have few hobbies/addictions. I used to do some chores around the house after coming home from work and not complain...much. I used to rely on my wife for additional data whenever my girls talked to me about their day. Not the case anymore.

How else has the dynamics changed? Now, I am happy when my wife comes home so I can shift the burden of domestic management back on her...just like she used to do to me. Naturally, this has created some tension between the two of us because she has forgotten what it was like when she was the SAHP and she just wants to see her girls. I have reminded her on numerous occasions that I used to look forward to seeing my girls when I had a full time as well so I fully understood how she feels.

I have this saying when a tough hand is dealt to someone (or even me) - "Life is a bitch...and she has sisters." ;) Well, there is another saying that fits well here - "Life is how well you play your hand as dealt to you."

I have illustrated how the dynamics has changed when people have to reverse their roles...I would like to hear from you what you think about the dynamics.

Also after reading this I wanted to ask you guys. How do you feel about NV unloading the "domestic management" back onto his wife? Fair or Unfair?--SHELLE



Shelle-BlokThoughts said...

NV what a great post!!! It is so good to see a perspective from someone that has stayed at home as a father and had the domestic responsibilities!

After reading you mentioned something that I had never thought on before. When I stayed at home I remember I couldn't wait for my husband to come home because he WANTED to hang out with the kids and I then could take "my break"...

But now that I work full-time and he gets to stay at home part of the time I don't feel the same. I need time to come home and unwind and I realize how unfair that is to my children.

i think it very fair that you get "your break" from the domestic management... but I personally am hypocritical in this in my life right now.

What an eye opener... thanks NV for a great post!

Anonymous said...

Great post. I think that the primary issue here is that on either side of the equation, each person needs a reprieve from what they focus on day in and day out. An occasional reprieve helps you remain effective in your responsibilities, whatever they may be.

As you have both experienced both sides of the equation, hopefully that will allow greater empathy and consideration on both sides. You might both feel differently about it, if instead of one person "shifting the burden", the other voluntarily chooses to take on certain tasks a few days a week to give the other a break.

In our case, there are times when one or the other has the greater domestic burden for a time. We get along a lot better knowing that one person will step in or take over in certain areas when the other has had a rough day(s), week, etc. It goes both ways though, so that we can both get the occasional break. It may sound corny, but knowing that the other does it voluntarily out of concern for the other makes a difference as to how we feel about it.

Citadela said...

The most sexy woman in the world...

Kritta22 said...

I think that it's okay to shift the weight to the worker when they come home. Just as long as you come back sometime soon after.
We kinda spilt the evening, with domestic stuff. If I'm cooking dinner, he's taking care of the kiddo and animals. If he is doing the dishes, it's my turn. It works for us.
You just gotta work out what works for you guys.
When we were in Alaska and he was under a lot more stress at work, he asked to have a 30 minute "cool down" time after he greeted the kiddo. It was sometimes hard but then I requested a kid-free shower in the evening and I think that even'ed the score.
You gotta do what makes both people happy.

Anonymous said...

Hell I hope you say after incessant babbling "I just wanna talk to a grown up!"

And say "These two heathen assed young'ns are YOURS! They are driving me insane!

etc etc etc

Man I sure am glad I ain't got your job. Damn I am. Good post.

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