Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Traditional, My Ass.

Many people have described the situation Slipshod and I live in as "traditional," because he works for a company and provides monetarily (and these days grocerily as well - like my new word?) for the family while I stay home and raise the kid, take care of the pets and the house, etc.

Well, I think that either I have a very 50's idea of what a "traditional" arrangement is, or people who describe our situation that way have NO idea what our life is really like.

Consider the present moment, for example. It's 9:45pm. Sweet Pea has had a big day since she waved goodbye to her daddy as he drove off to work at 8am, and now she is in bed, snoozing away. Slipshod isn't home yet. He did actually call an hour ago and say he was leaving work. IF that actually occurred at the stated time (he often gets grabbed on his way out the door and calls again an hour or more later apologizing, saying, "I really am leaving now..."), then he will probably stop somewhere on the way home to pick up some shit fast food for dinner. For the most part, he doesn't eat at home (only on weekends and sometimes Friday nights).

So as I see it, there are three big components to our life that don't match up with "traditional": Daddy working 12 or more hours per day at the office, barely seeing his child during the week, and not eating at home.

We also have projects around the house that I won't be doing either due to pregnancy, unfamiliarity with the power tools, or the fact that I can't safely do them with Sweet Pea around, so on the weekends often Slipshod will bust his butt building cabinets, dragging stuff to storage, etc. And those are things that toddlers need to not be present for because they could get in the way and somebody could get hurt. So Daddy busts his butt at the office during the week and in other places on the weekend, and Mommy feels like a married single parent 24x7x365.

So what is this? The new traditional? It's fantastic that Slipshod's job brings in enough income that we can afford for me to stay home and raise Sweet Pea (and soon her little sister). But y'know what? These girls need a daddy too. And Mommy needs a freakin' break every three months or so.

I don't know what the answer is. Sometimes Slipshod talks about quitting high-tech and becoming a teacher or something. We can live in a shack somewhere and be poor but happy because we'd be able to see each other every day and actually spend time together. But then he wouldn't be able to afford his expensive toys anymore. And I might not be able to get my dream sewing machine (someday).

Isn't there a middle ground?

Recently I've noticed that when I hear about daddies being present for dinner and their children's bedtimes, I automatically assume that they are either stay-at-home dads, or they work some crazy off shift that allows them to be home during family time hours. Then I really think about it and realize that those people are living normal lives, and we're the skewed ones here. We're so stuck in our Silicon bubble that we know lots of other families that are in the same situation we are, and have come to think this is normal.

But it's not. And it SUCKS. Mommy is not enough for the kids. I mean, obviously single parents have to raise their children alone. But if there are actually two parents attached to the family, they should both be there, both be raising the kids. Use what you've got, y'know?

I sometimes remind Slipshod that he will never get this time back with Sweet Pea. He has to find a way to be home more. He is trying.

One of our problems is getting to bed too late, which means he goes in to work later, and then has to stay later. But as I mentioned, there are also very frequently days, weeks or even months when he works many more, sometimes many more, than 8 hours per day. That is because every company Slipshod has ever worked for has been a start-up. At least things are MUCH better than the days when he worked in IT and would get called in at all hours of the night to fix the network before normal business hours the next morning. But start-ups don't care that their employees are frequently burnt out and running on fumes. If they're going to succeed as a company, they need workaholics who will give blood, sweat and tears to the company over the needs of their families.

Anyway... I guess I'm rambling now. Just had to get this out. It's been driving me nuts lately. Because, if you look up at the baby ticker, I am 35 weeks pregnant (the ticker uses Friday to count, we use Thursday). I will be in labor soon. We will have a newborn soon, and toddler (not to mention her parents) trying to adjust to having a new family member. Slipshod's company is going to have to figure out how to live without him for two weeks. And if they call him on the phone, so help me goddess, I will come down on them with a vengeance so great, he may not have a job to return to!


Christina said...

I hear ya! We're living far poorer now that I work part-time, but for the moment we're OK. If one of our cars breaks down, we'll be in trouble.

Your "traditional" family should not have to be that way. It's crazy that companies expect so much out of workers. My husband works 9-5, and not a minute more, because he knows they don't pay him enough to work extra and miss out on his family.

I wish I had advice for you. Move to Ohio? Lots and lots of tech jobs here, much lower cost of living (hell, the techies I know live in pretty fancy houses around here).

Stahl family said...

I'm with you, my friend! I, too, am a work-widow. My husband REFUSES to leave work before 7pm (and usually later because he is working on "stuff") before his hour-long drive home because of traffic. We don't usually see him before 8:30 or 9. But, lucky for us, he does NOT work for a start-up. Those days are over for us--at least for a while. At least now that I am staying home, he can see the kids in the morning before work. It used to be that he didn't get to see Jayden all week because he was asleep when I left for work with Jayden and Jayden was asleep when Dave got home. I'm glad we are past that!

The Pizzitola Family said...

I'm with you girl! Now a days if you don't put in those extra hours they'll find someone else who will. What do you do?

Tired Tunia said...

Howdy, I know how you feel, I used to be SAHM with a hubby that had a horrible job, we never knew when he would be home -- could be after 10 hours, maybe he'd be stuck there for 16 or 17 hours, we never knew.
I got to your blog via Queen of Spain, where I ticked you off with a comment I made about cutting the cord so Queen could go to Blogher alone! Really, I'm not pushing my way on anyone, but I just think that moms need a break too. I've done it both ways. When my 2nd child was born, I was so freaked out over leaving my 2 year old daughter with anyone else that I refused to drop her off for a few hours at any of my mommy friends' houses when it was time for me to go give birth. I drove myself a half an hour to the hospital, and made my husband stay with my daughter at home until my parents could arrive from 4 hours away to watch her. Once my son was born, a variety of things happened (DH lost his crappy job, I needed to work more) that forced me to leave my baby son and toddler DD with sitters and friends much more frequently. My son is bonded to me just as much as my daughter, and the feeling of relief I have just knowing that there are at least 4 or 5 people nearby that I can trust to watch them if something comes up is priceless.
We moms need a break for our own sanity sometimes. I'm not saying that it is horrible to be attached at the hip to your child. Just that other people, the father especially! can be allowed to watch them so the mom can have a break! Yikes I'm rambling, sorry. Good luck with the birth of your new baby!