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I'm a SAHM—What's a Weekend?

Photograph by Twenty20

I’m new to this whole stay-at-home-mom life. After seven years as a working mom, I left my corporate job to be with my youngest full-time and help our family of four achieve a better balance. My littlest lady is 4, so I’m well out of the whole lactating zombie phase. Even so, there are some aspects of this new life that have left me reeling—among them, the lack of adult interaction and intellectual stimulation.

So, a viral post by blogger Constance Hall about SAHM weekends really caught my attention. Hall’s friend had called to vent about her husband’s decision to take a spontaneous guys’ weekend, leaving her, a SAHM, alone with the kids. The friend asked whether or not it was OK to be upset, to which Hall responded YES because without a supportive partner leaning in on the weekends, the stay-at-home parent has no break from the day-to-day work of caring for children. According to Hall, a partner’s presence is the only thing differentiating the weekdays from the weekends. Reading this left me wondering, do I still have a weekend?

After some thought, I’ve decided no, I don’t.

As a stay-at-home parent, I have taken on the brunt of “life management” tasks for our family, regardless of the day. I’m not complaining, it’s just a fact that I make dinner, whether it’s Monday or Saturday. So, the work doesn’t end just because the week does.

When I worked outside of my home, I wanted to spend every waking weekend minute with my kids. I felt motivated by crushing mommy guilt to bake cookies, plan memory-making adventures and generally wear us all into a tizzy while we rushed to the grocery store and tried to keep the house just above squalid.

If my kids needed something (a snack, a butt wiping, whatever) they came to me or my partner equally. We tackled household and childcare tasks together and our weekends—while radically different from our pre-kid shenanigans—were the same for both of us.

However, my kids no longer see my partner as an equal caregiver. They will walk right past him and climb two sets of stairs to ask me for Goldfish crackers.

With me home, weekends have drastically changed. For one, they’re less hectic and I’m grateful for it. I can handle all the toilet scrubbing-grocery shopping-laundry tasks during the week, giving us more time on the weekends for fun.

However, my kids no longer see my partner as an equal caregiver. They will walk right past him and climb two sets of stairs to ask me for Goldfish crackers. My once all-in husband now balks at the simplest kid tasks: Where do you keep their PJs? What’s B’s teacher’s name? Are they supposed to wash their hair tonight? So, regardless of the day, I handle it.

And, sometimes, after a week of picking up Legos and driving countless miles to after-school activities, sometimes—dare I admit this—I just want to be left the fuck alone. Doing the dishes in complete silence has taken on a zen-like quality I wouldn’t have thought possible just a few months ago.

And Hall was definitely right about one thing: My partner does provide the only break I have from the day-to-day grind of being a stay-at-home parent. So, sometimes on the weekends, I stay home while my husband takes the girls to the park and I don’t feel guilty about it at all.

When I worked a corporate job, the weekends were a break from the cubicle, an opportunity to rest and recharge for the next project. My weekends differed radically from my weekdays. Not so much now.

In many ways, my weekend is no longer Saturday and Sunday. Instead, it’s spread throughout the week: an uninterrupted shower, a quick trip to the pharmacy where no one fights to push the button for the automatic door, dinner out with friends, a conversation with someone over the age of seven, and, on occasion, a few moments of perfect silence.

So, no, I don’t have a weekend as a SAHM, but that’s OK by me for now. I may be singing a different tune in another year, though.

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