Now that I've been a full-time caregiver to Benedict (read "stay-at-home parent") for just over a year, I can admit that it's nothing like what I thought. Part of this reality is of my own choosing and the other part is unexpected reality. Our house is too small and Benedict's needs are too limited right now for my duties to expand to take up my entire day. I can clean the house in an hour and Benedict is still napping for 4-6 hours during the day. Were I not working, the rest of my hours awake would just be play time for me. Here's what I've learned.
Being a stay-at-home parent is lonely. I understand now why there are so many mom groups. My only interaction with adults on a regular basis is with Alison in the evening. That means that thoughts, ideas, and inspirations need to stay in my head until at least 6:30pm. Then, if she's had a bad day, my only interaction with an adult for that day was a negative one. Not good. The temptation is to shift blame onto Alison, but that's not fair. I use this blog as an outlet for many of my creative inspirations during the day, but I've also found that reading books
and the newspaper
are helpful stimulation for the adult part of my brain.
Being a stay-at-home parent is to embody the corporal works of mercy. On a good day, I'll hit 4 of the 7, meaning that Benedict isn't sick, in jail, or deceased. Alison sacrifices by leaving home and supporting our family. I sacrifice by caring for our son and taking on most of the domestic responsibilities. There are days when I'm resentful, but when I turn my thoughts back on the works of mercy and find that my work is holy
, I'm able to better cope.
Being a stay-at-home parent is anything but a life of luxury. I'm in control of Benedict and I's schedule, but by and large, his needs and the needs of the household control my daily direction. Between Benedict, household chores, and the work that I've taken on, I have 60-90 minutes a day where I can do something fun for myself. In that way, Alison and I share very similar schedules.
The experience of stay-at-home parents in my generation are going to be very different than stay-at-home parents of previous generations. The Internet has made it possible to literally work from home and bring in a modest income doing so. That means that both working and stay-at-home parents alike will have to juggle work/life balance
, all the while not allowing resentment to spoil their marriages.
The life of parents is pure sacrifice and the life of the family is pure beauty.