Occasionally, I'm brave enough to read the comments thread of my blog. The lighter pieces are less likely to yield venomous feedback. But anything I've written that verges on serious, angry, opinionated? There will undoubtedly be a handful of folks who unleash their unique brand of hate upon it, and me. It's the Internet. I get it.
I'm aware that it benefits no one to engage with people who are just there to throw dirt in your face. Still, I've had moments of weakness (read: unhinged rage) where I've replied directly to people who've been particularly critical of me. As you'd expect, nothing good comes of it. Unless you count grimacing and rolling your eyes as "good."
But one simple comment left on one of my recent posts made me stop in my tracks. It was a blog detailing a chaotic experience I'd had with my kids in public. It was my perspective, so it was written as such. Then, I saw this in the comments:
Where's your wife in all this?
Eight different people asked that same question. It occurred to me, upon reading the piece back to myself that I was starting to sound like a single dad, when I was certainly not. So, because the question posed is a fair one, I'm going to answer it.
So, in no uncertain terms, here's where my wife was, and is in all of this.
Sonia, my wife, wakes up at least 90 minutes before I can even imagine doing so on weekdays. I sometimes hear her poking around in her dresser drawers, seeking a last minute wardrobe replacement. I'm half-conscious when she kisses me goodbye. Then she drives to the bus station and catches a ride to Manhattan. That ride has gotten progressively less comfortable as she ventures deeper into her third trimester, and she now needs me to help get her boots on.
She still lays out the kids' outfits every day, neatly packs their lunches, always makes sure our older son's homework is done. I certainly share the load (we split baths, I do morning drop-offs before work, etc.), but she drives most of these things, no matter how tired she is, or how long her round-trip commute was that day.
In between conference calls and meetings and the like, she is calling the boys' school to ask how our younger son is doing with potty-training. And she's jotting down theme ideas for our older son's upcoming birthday party. When she comes home, so begins an epic battle to get both our kids' hands washed and their bodies to the dinner table. Later that night, she receives an email invitation to parent-teacher conferences; she's quick to sign up, so she has first dibs at the calendar, ensuring she can make the conference, despite her hectic work schedule.
Once in a while, she actually sets aside time on a Saturday for a manicure or a trip to the mall, but inevitably, she winds up bringing one of the boys or buying more things for the kids than herself. And every few months, we actually go out for a meal without the kids. You can probably guess which topic monopolizes the conversation.
Her fingerprints and heart are visible on every aspect of our children's lives. Yet, like most other good moms on the planet, she often wonders if she's doing enough. Naturally, and without question, she is.
Sonia's third (and barring divine intervention, final) maternity leave begins today, when our lives will change forever, again, and she delivers our third child... and first daughter. And I feel like this is the time that most working moms reflect on the job they've been doing balancing their careers and families. She can rest assured knowing that the impact she makes on our family is extraordinary, whether she's physically home or miles away, in a high-rise building in New York.
I would hope these words resonate with her as much as they resonate with any mom breaking her back every day but still feeling like they should be giving more of herself. My words likely won't convince you, but you're doing a far greater job than you think you are.
So, if you're ever reading my blog and wondering where my wife is in the story, know that she's just about everywhere. And with baby #3 on the way, that's exactly where she'll need to be, with one eye on the growth of her career and one eye on that of her children.
This story may sound familiar. And it is. Because this is the life of a working mom. Recently, I wrote a letter of praise for the stay-at-home parents. Today, my gratitude turns to those striving to maintain the elusive balance between job and family, boss and child. I'm fortunate enough that I married a woman who does so with grace, despite all the ways in which parenthood tries to take that away.
* It should be noted that there are at least 35 other things my wife does for our family that are not listed in this blog.