I did something yesterday that I never do: I spent an entire weekday at home alone with my sons. Why don't I ever do this, you may be asking? I work full-time outside the home--and have since my sons were 10 weeks old--and until recently, that work was at a job that did not afford me any paid leave. So even if my sons were ill, or my nanny was sick herself or had the day off, I would have to go to the office, and we would make other arrangements for my sons' care. That was just the way things were.
Yesterday's arrangement came about due to a few factors. First and foremost was the fact that the boys' nanny called in sick. Both boys have been sick with a gastrointestinal illness off and on all week, ever since MJ vomited all over himself in his car seat on our way from the children's museum to his grandparents' house on Sunday afternoon. One or the other of them has had either vomiting or diarrhea each day of the week since then, and they shared that illness with each of their adult caregivers. I was laid low on Tuesday and had to leave work early and call MM to cut his workday short and come home and take care of the boys while I lay in bed, battling chills, cramps and nausea, wishing for death. MM had a much less severe case of the same illness the following day. Yesterday was apparently our nanny's turn.
Given my job change of a few months back, I now have paid sick leave which allows me to take a day off in circumstances such as these, and because MM already cares for the boys on his own all day every Friday, and I had nothing scheduled for Thursday that could not readily be rescheduled, it seemed to make the most sense for me to take the day off and stay home with the boys.
After spending the day in the role of a SAHM, at least temporarily, I have to say that my hat's off to those twin moms of toddlers who do this every single day. I think I might be able to manage one of my sons on a daily basis, or both of them if they were spread apart a bit in age. But taking care of two 2-year-olds is hard, hard, hard. It's one thing to deal with the irrationality, impulsivity and emotionality that is age TWO for a few hours at a time (as I usually do). It's another thing entirely to deal with these things for an entire day without a break. (Did I mention that my sons no longer nap for us unless being driven around in the car? And then only for an hour or so at best? Yeah.)
By noon I had confirmed for myself that continuing to work outside the home, rather than being a SAHM, is the right choice for me. Not that I had ever had any real doubt the decision. I believe that knowing your strengths and weaknesses is key to making good decisions for yourself and for your family, and I know that I require a high level of intellectual stimulation and quite a bit of adult interaction in my days, and that I am not the world's most patient person by a long shot. I also think that the net benefit to our family of my income--in addition to the benefits to me, personally, of working--makes the choice the right one for us. And I am fortunate to be able to afford excellent care for them when I'm not there. (Believe me, our nanny is FAR more patient than I and provides them with much more structure and age-appropriate stimulation.)
At the same time, I also enjoyed getting to spend the extra time with my sons. AJ clearly wasn't feeling well, and I liked being able to give him extra cuddles myself (even though I know our nanny would have cuddled him if she had been there). I shared several laughs with both of them. I enjoyed being able to take the boys to the park myself and to see firsthand their excitement at seeing two school buses (and the "big kids" who got off them) and a kite being flown by two little girls and their mother.
Maybe I would "grow into" the role of SAHM if I occupied it long enough. Who knows?
I will say, though, that being home with my sons all day, without any real break, was a lot more taxing than a typical day at the office.