I stumbled in the front door, arms weighed down with grocery bags, just in time to see them clearing their plates from the table. My heart sank a little; though I knew I was coming home later than I expected, I had hoped I would make it home in time for dinner with the family. We have dinner together every single night. That’s our thing. Tonight I missed it.
The guilt ate at me as I put away the groceries. I watched my husband sit down with the kids and the guilt turned to anger. Anger that I was the one running the errands and he was the one to get fun kid time. I wanted to sit on the couch and cuddle with the kids. It’s not fair, I thought in my best toddler voice.
I felt guilty. I felt angry. I felt jealous.
Yes; I feel jealous sometimes when I’m cleaning and he’s playing. I feel guilty when he’s cooking meals because some weird 1950s version of myself feels like I’m failing if I’m not cooking the meals. I wonder if I’m being silently judged by the other mothers because I’m not the one waiting for the school bus at the end of the day.
I am angry that day after day I feel like I am being pulled between a career and my family.
That night, as I stomped around the kitchen doing the dishes I wondered if Dads feel this mixed up too? Do they feel guilty if they have to miss dinner one night? Do they feel angry when they head off to work in the morning instead of walking their kids to school? Do they feel jealous when they aren’t able to chaperone a school trip?
It was in the midst of all the angry stomping that it hit me. We are a team. This beautiful life that we have created with each other, functions only because we are both willing to give and take. We each play our part and our roles are constantly evolving, sometimes on a daily basis. Today groceries might fall on my list of to-do’s and tomorrow that list might include walks to the park and story time. The paycheque that we each bring in pays for the home we live in, the sports our children play and the vacations we are able to take. Homework gets done, toilets are cleaned, meals are prepared and bedtimes are full of love and cuddles because we pull together like the dynamic duo we are.
This is our life. I couldn’t do this without him and he couldn’t do this without me. Instead of feeling guilty or angry or jealous I should feel happy and proud. Proud of all the hard work I put in to contribute to this family. Proud that we are figuring out this whole teamwork thing and are both putting our blood, sweat, and tears into making this family what it is; which is pretty damn beautiful.