Having a wife with an incredibly demanding career means she misses out on experiencing many small magical moments and some significant milestones in our daughter's childhood. Witnessing most of her growing up is priceless! It makes my job of being a full-time parent so rewarding. But one of the strange and challenging aspects of this transition has been dealing with my wife's frustration with feeling excluded.
It's difficult to know she's missing out on things…and to feel, at times, very much alone myself. I wish she was able to share all of these memories with me. I can only imagine how frustrating and sad it must be for her too. Of course, it’s easy to forget how painful it must be for her when she gets annoyed at not knowing where the can opener is kept… or says things like "You’ve got it easy!" or "Sure, you know all the neighbors...they'd rather hang out with you than with me!" or "That is something that is very special and important to me and you totally excluded me!".
As a stay-at-home dad, I've learned to compensate for some of the inherent distance. Using my blackberry camera to take pictures of everything from cute outfits to bed-side table lamps enables her to shop, to some extent, by proxy. My wife loves the fact that, every morning, I send several shots of Catherine coming down the stairs so that she can see her outfit and how well (or poorly) daddy styled her hair. I think the videos I take of everything from cuddling with the dog to shopping at the supermarket makes her feel a little less disconnected. I seriously take pictures and videos of everything....so much so that I can fill the memory on a phone in less than a month if I don't regularly sync my media. It must look absolutely obnoxious to anyone watching.
But I realize that no amount of documenting our daughters life will ever be an adequate substitute for actually being there. On several occasions, my wife has directed the frustration of not being there at me....which has been the fundamental issue underlying a few serious relationship-shaking arguments. I loose my cool and raise my voice in these situations but eventually try to remind her, that it is her job that excludes her from regular participation in the family and not me. Using me as a target for things that frustrate both of us is a hazard to the longevity of our marriage….and probably is for any single income family. I love and admire my wife more than she will ever know. I recognize the importance of her bettering, and often saving, the lives of countless children everywhere… but it doesn't make sharing her with them any easier.