Radical Mommy: There's no doubt that times are tough. So tough that many of the women I know, including myself, are working while their husbands, due to layoffs and job shortages, are staying home with the kids. If you ask me, this recession is a blessing!
My husband works in the entertainment industry -- a fickle industry at best. Usually he works on movies, TV shows and commercials, but these days due to an impending actors' strike, runaway productions, and the pinch of the economy, business isn't as brisk as it usually is. That means that temporarily, instead of being at work from 7AM - 11 PM (movie hours) and NEVER seeing our son, he is with him 24/7 -- whether he likes it or not.
My husband isn't the only man I know doing this right now. In fact, two of my co-workers are in the same position. They get up when it's dark outside to leave for work while their husbands get the kids ready and take them to school. All of the husbands are there right when school ends to take them home, help with homework and take them to the park. We all get home when it's dark and quickly approaching bedtime, and on most nights, I at least am lucky to spend an hour-and-a-half with my baby before I read him a story and lie with him until he falls asleep.
In decades past, it's (traditionally) been fathers who've been deprived of spending lots of time with their children -- that is, until now. Maybe as a society we have progressed. Maybe it's not so expected for women to be the primary caregivers and men to "bring home the bacon." Maybe we have actually accepted that men can be nurturers and women can be breadwinners. Some people may view this new (temporary) role reversal as slightly emasculating for the men involved, but I REALLY couldn't disagree more. This is bar none the best thing that has ever happened to my son.
Because of this "phenomenon," my son is with his father most of the day -- barring the 2 1/2 hours he goes to preschool. Because of this, my husband knows what to do when our son is sick, and he takes charge. My husband is also able to buy him shoes, socks and clothes -- because he knows his size (something I admit I have to ask my husband when I shop for my son). But most importantly, my husband knows who my son is -- he knows what he likes, what he doesn't like, what makes him laugh, and what makes him cry. He knows him like I know him.
I'm sure you've heard the old adage, "Little boys love their mommies." In the past, I have found this to be true. When my husband has been working and I haven't, or when we've both been working, my son had eyes for no one but me. I was the one he wanted to hold him, I was the one he wanted to cuddle with, I was the one who could console him when he was hurt or sad -- basically, I was the one whose side he wouldn't leave.
It wasn't because my son didn't love his dad. He did -- it's just that he knew me better and felt more comfortable with me because I was around more. Now, though, after being at home on and off for about two years, my husband is just as close to our son as I am. Now, he and my son are buddies and my son will ask for him when he has to go out. Now, my husband is able to help him when he is hurt or sad.
Now, there isn't a day that goes by that I don't hear my son call out to my husband from another room saying, "Dad ... I love you!" Now, they cuddle on the couch every day and hug and kiss spontaneously. Now, when my son hurts himself, he calls for his father just as often as he calls for me. Now, my husband has had a chance to participate in parenthood like few men have had the privilege to before.
I know times are tough, and in our house they are, too. But in terms of what this recession has done for our little family -- we are RICH.