Your Day vs His Day - Why Nobody is Winning
When Monday morning arrives, I sometimes look at the week stretching out in front of me and think, Oh God.
My husband's alarm goes off, he gets up, has a shower and gets ready for work. My alarm these days is The Toddler, who sneaks into our bed and loudly asks, 'Are you awake Mummy? My pyjama bottoms are wet. I can't find my fire engine. Can I have some Weetos?' If I'm really lucky a series of recorded minion farts will be the first thing I hear when I wake up, as the Fart Blaster from Despicable Me 2 is activated next to my head. Waking the baby up. FML. And the morning circus begins...
'Have a good day' I sneer at said husband as he leaves the house. On time. Without juggling a car seat and pram base combo to the car. Without worrying if he's got enough baby wipes. Sometimes listening to actual music on an iPod. Bastard.
Back in the land of the living-room, at least one half of my offspring is kicking off and I am left wondering whether 08:35 is too early for Toy Story 3, or whether I should wait to see what's coming up on Lorraine instead ... and more to the point, I'm left pondering the same daily conundrum. What the actual fuck am I going to do with them all day?
Currently on maternity leave, I have heard myself snap 'I wish I was going to work' a fair few times. Though this is not untrue (you'll have gathered by now I have neither the patience nor the all-round maternal vibe required to be a Stay at Home Mum), I have also come to realise that the ongoing 'my day is harder than your day' debate doesn't actually make either of us feel any better.
Jealousy towards his freedom to leave the house each day is somewhat misguided by the memory of what the working day was like before children. Work may well be like a holiday at times but it is still work. Which he now has to undergo on significantly less sleep. And when his shift is finished he no longer comes back to a quiet house, puts Sky Sports News on and has a cold beer like he sometimes used to. He comes home to me. Crying. Telling him I hate being at home. I hate my life. Telling him I’m at breaking point and no I don't know what's for fucking tea because I HAVEN'T EVEN HAD A SHOWER.
Sure, he gets to 'escape' at 08.25. And yes, I am sometimes bored to tears by 09.25. But how good does he truly have it? Does he even like his job? I think I’ve forgotten to ask him that recently. He might wake up on Monday morning, look at the week stretching out in front of him and think I wish I was staying at home. ‘Ha! You have NO IDEA what it’s like!’ I tell him. And, no, he doesn't have any idea what being at home all day every day is like but I don't really know what working full-time and coming home to Hurricane Wife is like either.
I moan about being at home quite a bit. Okay, I moan about it a lot. But even for die-hard work fans there is something undeniably liberating about being master of your own schedule. If I choose to, I can simply decide at 2pm on a Tuesday that I quite fancy a trip to the library. And go. Admittedly we won't get there until 4pm because it is impossible to leave the sodding house with kids in less than 90 minutes ... but the point is, to a certain extent, I decide what we do with our time it's just that it’s the children who roll the behaviour dice and decide how successful that trip is. We both answer to somebody, but the boss breathing down his neck is much bigger. And can't be bribed with raisins.
Maybe the grass really isn't always greener on the work side. Some days it is. Some days it isn't. Some days one of us has a distinct advantage. Some days we both lose. The only certainty is that unless we are genuinely considering addressing the work/home divide (and re-allocating roles), the constant 'my day is worse than yours' debate will roll on forever, which doesn't help anyone. What is more helpful is to crack open a bottle of wine on Friday night and agree we have both had a rough week.
Important notes for the worker:
- If the baby is teething or if anybody at home is poorly, you definitely have the better deal being at work.
- Don't pretend you have any idea what it is like to take a crying baby to the doctors for his injections accompanied by a toddler who has switched to arsehole mode. Truly, she has lived through hell that day.
- If she is having a Mumzilla day, cut her some slack. She doesn't really hate you. Or the kids. Or the house. Or her life. But she is at (temporary) breaking point. Those abusive sweary texts messages aren't her new hobby but sometimes she can't stop herself. Don't tell her you have had a hard day. Or sigh. In fact, on those days, it's best not to breathe near her. It's nothing personal, but she might want to smack you in the face.
- Finally, never ever ask what she has been doing all day. Or if your work shirts have been washed. She hasn't even washed herself. You know where the washing machine is.
And for those holding the fort at home ...
I know it's bloody annoying when he says 'but I've been at work all day' but he has been at work. All day. And he never ever gets to sunbathe during toddler nap time. Or watch Judge Rinder in his PJs on a Thursday. Just admit that there are some small perks.
Though if my husband is reading this, your youngest son shat through three layers of clothes this morning, and your wife cried in the shower and is at her wits' end with Star Wars toddler role play because she is always sodding Yoda. A cup of tea is the least you can do.