Wednesday, June 6, 2007

Bring Me My Pipe and Slippers

I am a 1950's husband.

No, no. I'm a woman, a mom, a wife. I've never actually been a man.

But, unlike the scenario I imagined for most of my single life, I am the sole breadwinner in our family. My husband, *Leo, stays at home with our son during the week, while I go off to work. This was never the plan when I was pregnant, but due to a remarkable convergance of bad luck, by the time our son was a few weeks old we were both unemployed.

I just happened to get a job first, while *Leo decided to start a small non-profit and work from home. And so this has been the pattern for 3 and 1/2 years, though I have yet to make peace with it.

Every day I leave amidst a chorus of guilt-inducing pleas from my son: why do you have to go to work? No, I wouldn't mind if we didn't have any food to eat - I want you to stay and play with me. And my husband still hasn't caught on to the whole 8 hour day thing. Every day when I call him to say hello around the 6 hour mark, he seems genuinely surprised that I'm not leaving work yet. The truth is, that some days even after 8 hours I'm reluctant to leave work.

I want to come home to a home-cooked meal and a clean house. I want a calm child waiting for me on the other side of our front door. And I most of all want some time to myself when I walk in the door.

Now, I have to say, I do almost always get the home-cooked meal. *Leo has become an outstanding cook and often comes up with his own very tasty dishes. And he does the grocery shopping.

Forget the rest. The house is always a mess and by the time I wrangle our son into bed anywhere between 9 and 10pm, I do not have the energy to clean it. As I approach the front door of our house, somewhere between honking the car alarm and putting my hand on the screen door handle, I can hear my son screeching "It's Mommy! It's Mommy!" and hurling himself against the door. Don't get me wrong - I love the sentiment. It's like having my own very small rambunctious fan club. And then, of course, there is the wish for time alone. I know. No one gets that.

Yet, still, there it is. The silent wish as I channel some 1950's sitcom Dad: As I walk into my home each weeknight I'm greeted with a kiss from my smiling husband waiting at the door, my son clean, well-behaved, and anxious to tell me about his day. Then I relax on the sofa, quietly reading the paper in our spotless livingroom. I know it's wrong, but what a lovely dream...

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