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When Banana Bread Really Means “I Love You”

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Babble has teamed up with ESPN’s Sage Steele, host of NBA Countdown and mom of three, for Harder Right, Easier Wrong, a series about the tough choices parents face every day. Big or small, win or loss, your experiences matter, because when it comes to raising kids, we’re all in this together.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve bragged about my husband. Publicly, privately, you name it… I share with anyone who will listen that I never would have “made it” professionally and achieved my dream of becoming a sportscaster at ESPN if it weren’t for Jonathan’s decision to put his career aside, to be a stay-at-home dad.

Our original plan was to hire a nanny or find a small, reputable daycare center for our baby, but once she was born and we actually held her in our arms, that plan went out the window. We realized that we didn’t want anyone else to help raise our kids, so we had a choice to make. Ultimately, it came down to whose job had the best earning potential to ensure the best future for our family, and that happened to be mine. And truly, the ONLY reason I felt comfortable continuing to pursue my career goals, was knowing that my #1 priority – my family – was being taken care of at home.

But I’ve gotta admit, sometimes I’m jealous of my husband. Or maybe “envious” is a nicer word to use, because jealousy has a very negative connotation, and that’s not how I feel.

I’m envious that he gets to be home with the kids. Envious that he was the one who got to see our firstborn take her first steps. Envious that he gets to go to each of their important events more than I do — from concerts and field trips to sporting events and parent teacher conferences — he considers all of it an awesome part of his JOB. Hell, I’ve even been jealous that I can’t be there in a traditional, “wifey” way for him!

All of this may sound irrational to some people — especially those who have struggled with all that comes with being a stay-at-home parent — and I totally get it. But just know that it’s not exactly a cakewalk on the other side either.

Through the years, I’ve tried to make up for it in other ways. I signed up for as many “Mommy & Me” classes as I could when I had mornings free before heading to work in the afternoon. Once my kids were school-aged, I always volunteered to be a “class mom.” At one point, I was a class mom for all three of my kids at the same time, because God forbid if everything wasn’t 100 percent equal for all of them all of the time!!

When possible, I would tweak my schedule so I could be at the bus stop in the morning AND in the afternoon, even though Jonathan always made sure he was there, too. And speaking of the bus stop… it took me awhile, but I finally got over the way some of the stay-at-home moms in our neighborhood treated the handful of working moms differently. Yes, once a mean girl, always a mean girl.

Over the past few years, one thing I’ve found that always makes me feel better is baking. I have a raging sweet tooth and very little willpower, so unfortunately, I make (and eat) lots of dessert. But my specialty is banana bread.

I usually make it the night before, so when the kids wake up in the morning, not only does it give my husband a break from breakfast duty (school day requests vary from pancakes to eggs over easy), but I also feel like a little piece of me is there with them.

My kids have told me how much they love it when I make the banana bread for them, and that’s all I needed to hear — even if I’m not there to actually serve it to them. My banana bread is my way of being home in spirit. And I’m finding more and more that the little things I do for my kids end up making ME feel great, too.

I’m eternally grateful to my husband for his sacrifices and commitment, but I guess I’m learning that it’s okay to acknowledge that I am sacrificing, too. The non-traditional lifestyle that I have struggled with, has worked beautifully for the past 13 years. And the envy is subsiding (at least most of the time).

Image courtesy of Sage Steele
Image courtesy of Sage Steele

It’s guess yet another reminder that nothing is as it seems, and no matter which role each of us plays in our families, there will always be challenges and difficult decisions. We’re all in this together, and who knows, maybe something as simple as banana bread can help deal with a perfectly imperfect situation.

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Each week, we’re asking parents to share some moments when they were faced with a tough parenting choice. Big or small, win or loss, your experiences matter and we support each other when we share.

Here’s this week’s question:

Share one time you wish you could have called in a parenting sub this week.

Share your answer on Twitter with #HarderRight and your response could be featured in an upcoming post on Babble.

Read more Harder Right, Easier Wrong parenting stories here.

Article Posted 2 years Ago

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