Until a few weeks ago, I was the parent who stayed at home watching our daughter. We'd always had a vague plan that I would be the one to stay home, naively thinking that since I worked from home I could both work and take care of a baby. Turns out that is mostly not the case, which was the spark of more than a few fights every couple has when one parent stays at home.
Staying home was simultaneously a sacrifice and a luxury: it wasn't financially easy for us to have one of us not working, but it was a choice we both made together after adopting our daughter. Since neither of us got time with her before she was born, we wanted to bond with her as much as possible once she joined our family. However, staying home was tough some days, and even tougher when my partner didn't quite know what it was like to be in charge of the tiny human five out of the seven days in a week. The other side effect of being the one who stays home is that you're naturally the one who knows the systems and schedules and equipment needed. In other words, it's harder for you to essentially "turn off" when you do have help.
I started working again a few weeks ago and I've quickly realized that being a working mom is equally if not more difficult than being a stay at home mom. I may not be in charge of my daughter for six hours a day, but so many of the mom responsibilities don't go away; they're just added onto the responsibilities of a working mom. Sexism is built into our society, that's for sure. However, rather than start those arguments with my partner (today at least), I'm reminiscing on the fights we had when I was home with our daughter.
The "Who Works Harder?" Fight
If you ever witness this argument brewing between partners, back away very slowly. It's not going to end well. As the one who stayed home, I'm a little biased, but sitting in an office all day long doesn't sound harder than taking care of a child for hours on end. In fact, it sounds downright peaceful.
The "Who's More Tired?" Fight
The age old parenting argument: who is more tired, the one who goes out to work every day or the one who stays home with the tiny human(s) and keeps them alive every day?
Despite many arguments to this effect, we never did land on a definitive answer.
The "Dividing Those Daily Chores" Fight
As the person who stayed home, I was torn between feeling like those chores were part of my daily duties and feeling like they should be split between me and my partner. He was willing to pitch in, but wasn't so useful with things that had to be done during the day while he was in work. So, as you might imagine, arguments ensued when it was later in the evening and both of us were too tired to unload the dishwasher.
The "Who Gets A Weekend Sleep-In?" Fight
Most weekends, all I want in life is not to wake up to the sound of a small human needing me. And all my husband wants is to sleep in for an hour, too. Luckily, there are two days in the weekend, but we dread the weeks where plans get us up for one of those days and no one gets to sleep in!
The "Whose Turn It Is To Take A Break?" Fight
The biggest arguments my husband and I had when I was staying at home started when he floated the idea of going out for drinks after work. My rational brain knew it was a perfectly reasonable request, but my over-tired brain couldn't cope with the idea of taking care of our tiny human all by myself for one more minute.
The "Who Should Get Up In The Night?" Fight
For the first several months of our daughter's life, I got up with her because I knew I could nap during her first nap and catch up on sleep. After a while, however, I needed more than four hours interrupted and started elbowing my husband in the middle of the night.
The "Who Spends The Money?" Fight
Whether it's warranted or not, I've found that the person who isn't making the money has a lot of guilt about spending any of the money. I didn't feel this so much when I was spending money on things for my daughter, but anything for me felt frivolous and unearned (and, as a result, caused quite a few arguments).
The "Who Makes The Parenting Decision?" Fight
In a perfect world, you'd make them together. However, sometimes it happens that the parent who spends more time with the child makes more of the parenting decisions. And sometimes that makes the other parent a little insecure or left out.
The "Who Should Be Staying At Home?" Fight
We had this argument every time I mentioned that it was sort of hard to stay home sometimes. My partner actually would like to be the one to stay home, but he's the one with the job at the moment so he doesn't get to. An inkling of stress or unhappiness from me was an opening for him to offer a switch in roles, which inevitably led us to revert to argument number one.