"You have no idea what it's like."
This sentence has been uttered ad infinitum in angry desperation; between high school friends, from parent to child and vice versa, and between office dwelling and stay-at-home parents.
I remember saying it to classmates, motivated more by sass than by storm, when defending my extra-curricular figure skating.
I don't think I've ever said it to my wife; but I've thought it. I've thought it when my work day was done with me and spit me into the maelstrom that is dinner time with young children.
At these moments I didn't want to help cook and discipline. They 'didn't know what it was like.'
Nobody knows, until they do. And then, there is only regret, from both parties.
The stay-at-home parent laments: "You don't know what it's like: being always 'on' for the kids; housework; meal planning; extra-curricular activities; managing our social calendar; and sacrificing healthy adult interpersonal relationships in favor of being a parent to a young child.
The office-worker counters: "You don't know what it's like: management driven deadlines; being responsible for the work of others; office politics; the responsibility of maintaining our families lifestyle; and learning about many of our children's milestones over the phone.
In 2013, there is an increasing number of spouses playing role-swap. More stay-at-home-dads; more moms stuck in rush hour traffic on their way to the office.
As with most things; experiencing another dimension of life suddenly creates a new understanding of what it means to be that person walking through the door at 6pm, or searching for a few precious minutes for a quiet cup of coffee at home.
Suddenly, you know what it's like.
Though I am the main wage-earner in our house, I have spent days and weeks at home with our kids. My wife has also spent weeks at a time treading through office politics and urgent deadlines.
After doing each for any extended period, I am usually ready for a switch.
I am still unsure which I would prefer to do full time, given the choice.
I am sure that without each part of the equation; life for our family would be very different, and more difficult.
#WeAreParents is a hashtag I will use more frequently. It signifies the beginning of the end of seeing ourselves as 'Moms' and 'Dads' competing for bragging rights relating to who has a more difficult role.
We Are Parents; a Nation responsible in one way or another for the lives and well-being of our children; whether from our cubilcles, or our kitchens.
May they prosper, and find a roomate with whom to share an apartment as quickly as possible.