I cannot imagine sacrificing the best 10 years of my professional career to stay at home with our kids.
But that is exactly what my wife has done.
When we graduated from journalism school together, Sonia actually did so with higher honours than me. (She had a better grade-point average largely because she didn’t waste her time playing Tecmo Football with her friends.)
Truth be told, she is the best writer in our family — but she’s never had the chance to flourish. It’s hard to get your creative juices flowing when you spend most of your days cleaning up Goldfish crackers and shuttling kids to swimming, Brownies and t-ball.
Nobody completes a four-year university degree with the intention of staying at home and watching Diego’s Dinosaur Rescue on an endless loop.
But that’s exactly what Sonia has done. And it’s what countless other stay-at-home moms have done as well.
So many times I get asked, “So is your wife just at home with the kids?”
The word “just” is so loaded in that context; as if it’s a vacation or a holiday of some sort for Sonia. I spent five months on parental leave with our first daughter and I can tell you definitively that I would prefer to take my vacations at a Sandals resort. But I only did it for five months. I can’t imagine doing it for almost a decade.
Stay-at-home moms don’t get performance reviews like those of us in the corporate world. In fact, they are usually greeted with tantrums from toddlers or snarky back-talk from tweens. They often get judgmental comments from working moms and are left with a shrinking social network. And did I mention the laundry? Because holy crap, there is a lot of laundry.
As husbands, I think we’re often oblivious to the demands on the home front. It’s true that we provide financial support for the family, but we overlook the intangibles that our wives bring to the equation. You can’t measure what a stay-at-home mom brings to your family because it doesn’t come with a pay stub every two weeks or with a certificate for Employee of the Month. There is nothing on paper that says, “Sonia Mendes is doing a solid job of raising her kids.”
And that’s really a big part of the problem for stay-at-home moms. They have nothing to measure themselves with in a concrete way. They have no idea if they’re doing a good job, because there is no evaluation process for them. I get a raise every couple of years if I’m doing my job well at Sportsnet. For Sonia, her reward every couple of years is a new set of challenges. It started with breastfeeding, moved onto diapers and it won’t end until our girls are 18 and wearing cut-off jeans that we think are too short.
So if you have the opportunity this Mother’s Day, try and give your wife a performance review if she’s a stay-at-home mom. Chances are she’ll appreciate some positive feedback for a change.