"I need a stay-at-home wife," I recently wrote my cousin.
I have worked outside the home for sometime now, but still find it a struggle to manage the professional routine without a stay-at-home mom. There's something about a mom at the house-- one that puts a cool hand on your forehead when you are ill, one that bakes cookies, that volunteers at school, and that mends the torn and worn clothes and stuffed animals. One that knows all the intimate details of a child since his or her birth. One that organizes everything. How does all this get done when Mom goes back to work?
There is a constant chorelist. So this week, I sat my daughter down before bed and thanked her for all she does to help maintain our home and pets. I told her I would increase her allowance on the condition that each day she complete a list of chores I give her after school-- many chores that normally I would do. The other night, she made the salad for dinner complete with chopping up vegetables, slicing eggs, shredding cheese, and adding spices. She set the table, folded laundered blankets, fed the rabbit, and walked the dog. She wrote her school supply list, sorted her current supplies, labeled her materials, and completed her homework to boot. And she did all of this cheerfully. Another night, she took care of the pets again, folded and dried more laundry, unloaded the dishwasher, set the table, and looked after her brother for a few minutes. She even prepared the fish for dinner one evening. Because she has undertaken all these things, we have been able to eat dinner early and still have enough time to run back-to-school errands before bedtime. While there are many things she cannot do yet (cook on the stove unsupervised, pay my bills, or raise Cain with a merchant over a badly written return policy), every bit of help she can give on the most minor of tasks relieves some of the burden of being a working parent.
My husband needs a man-at-home, too, I am sure he would say. Someone to open his mail, sort it according to priority, write out the bills, deal with insurance, wrestle with the IRS, mow the yard, mend whatever is broken, fertilize the lawn, change his tires, do his shopping, and iron his shirts. Too bad Tiny isn't 12 yet, not that I would ever trust him with an iron. He does little-man chores like feed the dog and make his bed. He can help put away groceries. Mostly, he is good at giving hugs and kisses, and both my husband and I can say that comforts any parent who works in or out of the home.
This evening, as I kissed my daughter good night and sat down to write, I thought, "You know, everything is going all right." Thanks to her, it really is.