My husband works shift work hours, meaning every single day, his schedule is different. He works holidays and weekends, no matter what and he’s held for over-time. Let me give you an example of a typical week for him:
Sunday: 3:00pm – 11:00pm
Monday: 1:00pm – 9:00pm
Tuesday: 12:00pm – 9:00pm (2 hours of overtime here)
Wednesday: 8:00am – 4:00pm
Thursday: 5:30am – 1:30pm
I literally cried as I wrote this schedule down. Seeing it on paper is even worse than I imagined. When we started dating, 12 years ago, he had this job. We have grown very used to the schedule and lifestyle that comes with this job. The difference now, we have kids. I’m sorry, let me re-phrase– we have tornado producing toddlers.
Afternoons are tough with toddlers, the time after nap and before bed when it’s often the hottest part of the day. I struggle to fill this time for my family. I can’t reach out to my fellow mom friends as they are expecting the arrival of their husbands any minute. And I don’t hangout with family (another joy of my husband’s job is that we live away from our families). These days are long. And as you can tell, I had three of these afternoon shifts of mom-ing in a row.
Some weeks I feel like I never see him, which is pretty true. After his night shifts, he comes home and unwinds. He may not get to bed until midnight and has to work late again the next night, so naturally, he sleeps in. Did I mention his job is stressful? I don’t dare wake him from his slumber as my husband is dealing with human lives when he’s at work. He needs his sleep.
The kids and I were all looking forward to Wednesday, his first day shift. My kids have been crying for daddy at night, he is terribly missed. Come 4:00pm I receive a phone call from him, “I need to run to the dentist to pay a bill, drop the car off at the shop and hit the grocery store.” My goodness, all of that after your first day shift? Ok. All of his errands put him home at around 6:30pm. He slumped through the door, looking completely exhausted.
He hugged me, hugged our kids, poured me a glass of wine and started cooking dinner. Did you hear me correctly? He started cooking dinner.
Sure, my week has been long but I’ve had consistent sleep, rest periods, I’ve been in the comfort of our home. He should not, in any way, be catering to me. But he did, because that’s how his heart serves. He doesn’t look at the hours I work versus the hours he works. He never keeps tally. He doesn’t come in and hold his long week over my head, and he doesn’t make me feel guilty or less of a woman for not catering to him. He comes home and does. He cooks, he plays with the kids, and he does the bedtime routine with me.
He never once complained, in fact, he was smiling. He looked happy.
Stay-at-home moms, or stay-at-home working moms like me, can get a little snoody and self-righteous. Our kind will often say that the working spouse has no idea what we deal with at home. We will say we aren’t valued and respected the way we should be. We will say we have the hardest job in the world. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to step off of the pedestal and recognize the effort it takes from both parties to make a household run.
My husband never once talked or complained about his long week. On Wednesday, after he made dinner and helped me put the kids to bed, he ate and went straight to sleep. He had a 5:30am shift the next day. You guys, he never once complained. I am always on edge and ready to fill his ear with the trials of my day. “And then they spilled animal crackers everywhere. And they were fighting. And they were talking back. Oh, it was awful.”
I don’t need to fill his ear with junk talk; he knows what I go through. He doesn’t need to fill my ear with work complaints; I know what he deals with. He is the perfect example of being a part of a marriage and a family.
No matter what your day or week held, walk through the front door of your home and wash it away. Enjoy your family, serve your family the best way you know how, make sure everyone in that household feels equal and worthy.
Work is just work is just work is just work is just work. Family is everything.