I am married. I have been married going on 8 years this coming January and for the majority of my married life, my husband and I have worked opposite shifts. I work during the day and he works at night. It sucks, I hate it but we realize it’s what needs to happen. For the most part Monday through Friday my husband and I do a quick “tag your it” as far as parental responsibilities and to be honest with you; I feel I get the brunt of the responsibility.
During the day is when most action happen with kids, responsibilities, demands, phone calls and basically all things pertaining to life. The business hours in our world are 8-5 and 8-5 is when the hubs sleeps. You can probably guess who gets to take on all the fun? Momma bear. To say the least – it is overwhelming and most of the time I feel like a single parent. To all those single parents out there, I give you credit, respect and a massive amount of applause because this stuff is for the birds.
When school calls to discuss the kiddos rough day – I answer
Parent teacher conferences/activities/sports/plays – only me
When bills need to be paid – I organize and pay
Sick kiddos during the night – I wipe the snotty noses
Doctor appointments – I miss work
House is a wreck – I put it back together
The biggest and hardest is when the special education coordinator calls to discuss IEP meetings, therapies, behavior issues and any issues pertaining to our youngest during school, who has autism and takes quite a bit of our undivided attention – I attend, discuss and listen – alone
I parent which includes disciplining, nurturing, teaching, caring and all things involved – by myself
The list could go on…
What bothers me most is, this is not what I signed up for. When I got married and had children I was excited to start on this adventure with a partner, someone who I could lean on to take some of the stresses of life. That is not at all how things have turned out. Now, before I start making all my readers, if there are any out there assume that I am bashing my husband … he does what he can do. He makes the big bucks and his contribution is often monetary which I am more than thankful for. We wouldn’t have all we do if it wasn’t for his contribution.
More times than not he works 10 to 12 hour days at a very labor intensive job, rightfully so – he is exhausted when he comes home. Sleeping during the day is not at all like sleeping during the night. Naturally, our bodies don’t understand what you are trying to do so the quality of rest just isn’t there. When he does have some awake time during the week before work – he will do what he feels is sufficient around the house. Reality of that is, the impact those things make on the function of our life, is minimal. (((I’m sorry hunny – you know I love you)))
At one point, or should I say many points in our life – these things have caused major issues in our marriage. I am not ashamed to say that we have been at a point where divorce was our only option. We have been so close that all it took was signatures to finalize that. When you risk losing everything you have built for the last 10 years you tend to look at life a little differently. You actually think about your decisions and what that decision looks like on the other end. With every action is a reaction, a ripple, a mark on your future and on your children’s future. I am thankful that many long talks, many heart breaking crying fests have changed mine and my husband’s outlook on life and our marriage. We don’t look at quitting as being an option anymore, we look at sacrifice as being something you do.
With that realization has come acceptance of our roles. Just as I get to be there for my children every single day, my husband misses out and it hurts him. For example – this week marks our oldest daughter turning 10 years old. That is a HUGE milestone that he had to miss out on. He didn’t get to see her on her birthday, he didn’t get to go out to her birthday dinner, he didn’t get to see her excited when the workers at the restaurant sang , “Happy Birthday”. He likely will miss out on her birthday party over the weekend as his work has called mandatory overtime. The reality of “tag team parenting” is ugly and someone ends up missing out and that someone is dad. The girls miss him. I miss him, but this schedule is what needs to be done. I have accepted that I am the one who takes most of the weight of our life and he has accepted he will more than likely miss out on important moments.
This life is definitely not made for everyone. There are moments, few and far between where I get a quick feeling of strength. I look at all I do and think, wow I really am doing a lot and I’m actually doing OK. Most of the time I am left feeling inadequate. I wish I had more energy in a day and I wish I could do EVERYTHING each of my children want me to do. Fact is – I have to know my limits because living as a single parent Monday thru Friday leaves me exhausted.
We sacrifice and we push through so we can appreciate those two days a week (sometimes just one day) where we are together, all four of us and we soak every last minute up. I’m proud of where we have come in the last 10 years and if we can beat the hurtles that have been placed in our way, we can make it through anything.
Tag team parenting isn’t easy – but it’s worth it!