Did I draw in my ‘I must protect her husband from his terrible she-wolf wife!’ male readers? You here?
So the title is actually talking ‘things we have accomplished today for our family’…but those scores are tongue in cheek. Well, let’s be honest, I have actually accomplished at least 182 things for our family today…but his number is way higher than 3. Shoot, maybe it’s even 183. Who knows? I can’t really do the math that well for either of us right now because I am (insanely) trying to blog, while holding my newborn’s binky in his mouth with my left hand, rocking his chair with my foot and peering out the bedroom door every two seconds to make sure Carlitos is still sitting on the sofa with his coloring books. Oh, wait, AND checking my email. Darn, oven repairman won’t be here until Friday. Can’t wait to tell my Mother-in-Law when she gets here on Wednesday. More importantly, can’t wait to tell my husband that he won’t have any of his Mama’s home cookin’ until Friday. Anyway…oh, wait, now I am nursing Xavi annnnd…here comes Carlitos! Okay, my nose tells me that I will be doing a massive diaper change as soon as Xavi is done eating and then puking on me.
What is funny is that I literally just chronicled (ooohhhh, like my blog name! what what) this random 4 minute slice of my life as it happened. No pre-meditation, dramatization, glorification, or any other ‘-ation’…this is truly a tiny glimpse into the life of a mom. And I think that is why often times women may feel like we are doing waaay more than our counterparts. Because it Just. Does. Not. Stop. Not for a second.
Now, let me say that, having been employed in some pretty exhausting positions (like teaching French to 8th graders in Baltimore, for example), I do understand how tiresome and stressful a work day can be, also. I do try to remind myself that my husband was not exactly sitting around eating bonbons all day before coming home for dinner. And the truth is, I have no idea what it is like to be the main bread winner for a family (of FOUR!) and deal with all of the stress and pressure that must entail. Along with the fact that he is on a career path that requires planning and working in order to go in the direction he would like to go, at the pace he would like to go (uh, speeding bullet, please). The man is working full-time, going to grad school and taking the CFA exams. And then he comes home and manages to usually throw a load of laundry in, fold some laundry, change some diapers (Basically change ALL diapers on the weekend. No, you can’t have him. The ring means he is TAKEN, ladies.), put Carlitos to bed and tell me I’m hot. (Sometimes I think he must drink scotch during the day like in Mad Men, because I don’t know how you can work all day in an office full of ‘pretty 20-something gals that, uh, let’s say, don’t exactly wear muumuus‘ and come home to your ‘I still have about 40 pounds left on me from that baby I had 9 weeks ago, covered in baby vomit, possibly have baby diarrhea in my hair somehow, smell sweaty and am wearing dirty, baggy maternity clothing’ wife and smile at her and look sincere when you say she looks hot.) Basically, the man does it all…and then some. And yet, I can openly admit that there have been (many) times where I mentally tally up ‘who is doing more’ or give him attitude because I feel overwhelmed and am pretty sure he is not doing his share. There, I said it. I have felt that way.
So, I was very happy to see this article that makes it abundantly clear that we (being my husband and I) are not alone in this issue. I say ‘we’ because he has his moments of feeling overwhelmed too, when I have to say “lose the ‘tude, dude.”
I really think a lot of factors come into play here. One part of this issue is that if you are the one who is home all day doing all of the Home and Children duties, anything Home or Children related that you do once your spouse comes home can feel unfair. As in, just because I did not put on a suit this morning does not mean I did not go to work. I worked my arse off, in fact. And I, too, would like to punch my ticket and have the work day actually end. But since ‘post-work’ responsibilities look a heck of a lot like ‘a stay at home mom’s work day,’ the lines can get blurry around 6:30 pm and the resentment comes on easily and quickly, my friend.
Another factor is that this whole ‘dad who works AND is helpful around the house and with the kids’ thing is a relatively new concept. So, not only are we all still figuring this out together, but these new prototypes are sitting here comparing themselves to what, say, their fathers did as far as chores and child-rearing are concerned and they are pretty darn impressed with themselves. And they should be. But that can mean that when the wife still feels overwhelmed and exhausted the husband just might be looking at her like “What? You are getting wayyyyyy more help out of me than my mom got out of my dad. You should be thanking your lucky stars!”
Mostly, I think this particular issue can get nasty when we forget to do three things that many of us promised to do when we got married (or chose a life partner, decided to procreate with someone, etc.):
1. Think about the other person’s happiness first and let them worry about putting yours first.
2. Put yourself in their shoes genuinely and frequently. This includes checking in with them and asking how they are feeling about their life responsibilities and life, in general.
3. Acknowledge and thank. Acknowledge and thank. Acknowledge and thank. Aaaaaand, repeat.
So, for today, I am pushing that little chalkboard tally out of my head. There really is no way to ever figure out exactly who ‘did more’ today, anyway. The only thing we can do is work our tail off and have faith that our partner is doing the same.
And if we can manage it, have a gin martini garnished with three blue cheese stuffed olives on a rosemary sprig waiting for them when they get home…so they can have something to drink while they watch the kids, as we sprint to the bathroom, lock the door and run a warm bath with soaking salts.