When my husband and I embarked upon parenthood, just one month short of our first wedding anniversary, we were both students, and we had a shared childcare arrangement wherein we split time watching the baby and our work responsibilities (taking classes and teaching classes). It was stressful, but we managed, albeit with very little sleep and a fair amount of vying for work time.
Now our roles have shifted from a 50-50 type arrangement to a more traditional one wherein I spend most of my time with the children, and he goes to work and brings in the money. This is a much more relaxed and workable situation. To be honest, I really enjoy spending my days with the kids (even if I do sometimes complain about the "servile labor," which can kind of take over if I let it). And my husband really enjoys his work environment (excepting the profusion of meetings). Moreover, it definitely seems to be better for the kids to have a stay-at-home-mom, rather than to be a take-to-school-kid, which Maia, and to some extent Eva, definitely was.
But the downside of this is that we both can be a little out of practice with the other side. For example, last week Jeff gave me the opportunity to listen to a lecture given by Bill Cavanaugh. Jeff was at work, so I drove to campus with the three kids and he watched them run around campus and tear through the seminary while I heard the lecture. Aside from my guilt at usurping Jeff's chance to attend (Cavanaugh's work relates more to his own than to mine), I have to admit that just being at a lecture made me realize how out of practice I've gotten at being an academic. I didn't have any difficulty understanding the talk, which was all pretty standard fare for Cavanaugh, but I definitely felt like an outsider seeing all the profs (who are neither my teachers nor my colleagues) and seeing all the undergrads (who are a bit like strange creatures to me now that I'm not teaching).
I've also noticed that on the rare occasion I get into an academic discussion with someone other than my husband, I have a dearth of knowledge where there used to be ready information. This can make me feel like I'm losing my ability to do theology. And though I've been fairly committed to my work hours, the truth of the matter is just that I spend 90% of my time playing with kids, feeding kids, wiping tushes, doing laundry, sweeping the floor, etc. I like to think that it's making me a better and even happier person. But to some extent it's also making me unable to talk the talk of theology.
(Above, the hard work of a stay-at-home-mom)
Meanwhile, my husband has been *trying* to give me *all day Friday* for me to do my own work. It's great in theory and on paper that he ends up with a long Thursday work day and then sacrifices Friday for me to get my work done. But in practice, by the time we've gone to separate daily Masses and assisted each other in running Maia to and from school (without taking Eva and Patrick), there really aren't that many hours left. Moreover, my husband seems to have very little stamina for dealing with the kids all day. Part of that is the consistently nasty Friday weather that keeps him homebound trying to keep the kids out of my office (located next to their playroom). Part of it is that he's simply tired by the end of the week. But I also think that part of it is that he's a little out of practice. He's a fantastic teacher (as I'm always hearing from his students, when I run into them), a top-notch researcher, and a great colleague for his coworkers. The more he lives the academic life, the better he gets.
This is not to say that he's not a good dad. He is; it just makes him really tired because he's not used to the crazy world of facilitating three children. Likewise, I don't think I've become a "bad" academic. Just a little out of practice. Hopefully it will all come back to me so long as I don't lose it altogether. At least, as I said above, it seems to be a happier life for our kids.