JW and I each considered being a stay-at-home parent, and we each decided against it. We both value having a career outside the home, and to be frank, we both lack the patience and desire to care for the kids 24x7. So we choose to be a double-income family.
The past year has been unusual for us. I was home for six months on maternity leave, and he was home for six months between jobs. I have learned what a luxury it is to have a spouse at home. My life has been so easy for the past six months. I say goodbye and walk out the door in the morning without worrying about whether the kids are dressed or have had breakfast. I come home at night, dinner is on the table, and the kids have already eaten. He runs errands, grocery shops, does the laundry, cares for sick kids, goes to all the appointments, makes phone calls, does repairs, handles the insurance company, talks to the teacher. I go to work and that's it. (And obviously, when I was on maternity leave, our roles were reversed and we were both happy with that too.)
I wish I could communicate this to the men I work with who have stay-at-home wives in a way they could understand. They have never really had to prioritize their kids over their work, except maybe on the odd birthday or major school event. They have never had to come home after a full day of work and have an entire evening's worth of household chores ahead of them. They have never had to worry about a never-ending to-do list of home and family items competing with their work to-do list. Life is so much simpler when someone else is managing the household and the family, and I think many of them not only take it for granted, but can't understand the pressures that the rest of us are under.
JW goes back to work on Monday. Today he got a call from his manager informing him that they're giving him a Blackberry. I'm bracing myself for our return to the old craziness.