“Just get used to it. You will have to do a lot while he is working, and you also have to work your full time job, too.” These words were from my sister when I was asking her how much her husband helps out around the house with the kids. She was speaking from when she tried to raise her two kids and work at the same time, full time, with a husband who travels a lot for work. I can understand her bitter attitude, but it still made me wonder about just how much husbands do help. I decided I had to look into this a little bit more, and to try and understand what exactly constitutes help from our husbands. And I don’t mean “babysitting” their own children. (How annoying is that, when men call it that? It’s their kids too, so it would be caring for them or just being a dad, wouldn’t it?)
Much has changed since the “old days” when men did absolutely nothing with their children: no diaper changing, little to no interaction throughout the day, and they were out the door before the kids were even up in the morning. In even earlier times, it was acceptable to have a nanny take care of your child completely and you got to “visit” with them at various points during the day but then they were whisked away to the nursery for the rest of the day/night. (Ok, chalk that last one up to watching episodes of Downton Abbey, but I know it did happen.) Things have changed a lot since then, and one of the biggest reasons is career women who are also moms. Cue the “Mr. Mom” scenario with Michael Keaton, the stuff that all guys dread.
Believe me, I am not complaining. Much. Its been difficult to find a happy medium between my husband and I. Considering we both work full time, with him having lots of extra evenings he has to stay late at work, some of the major stuff falls to me. Dinners, bathtime, bedtime all often fall before daddy even walks in the door. Its hard to even think about doing my own work when I get home at 5 with the kids from daycare, have to get dinner on the table, and bath and bedtime at a respectable hour. By the time all is said and done, I maybe can sit and relax by 7:45, and then I am too exhausted to do more than sit on my tush of the couch. And I get it, I do. He works in the city, and has to take his car and commute on a train to get in and out of work within a reasonable amount of time each day. That’s time out of his day to spend with his kids. I GET that. But it doesn’t make it any easier. And it doesn’t get me the help I need with the kids and my own sanity.
There are many times I want to freak out to him, and sometimes I do act on it. When I get the “I’m gonna be late” texts (it used to be calls, but I think he got sick of hearing the disappointment in my voice) or “something blew up at work” emails, I steel myself for the worst. I think the worst might have been when he went away for a guys’ weekend, and then had to fly out for work right afterward. So he was gone from Wednesday to Sunday for the first round (of fun), and in that time, my youngest’s ear infection came back full force, along with a lovely new side effect to the several antibiotics prescribed: vomiting at random times of day, but otherwise completely fine (eating, playing, napping, etc). When my husband got home on Sunday, I warned him not to leave me because I didn’t think I could go this alone. He had to, obviously, because of work. The next day that was the beginning of 4 days of him being in another country for work, I dealt with a very sick little one, who went back and forth with various symptoms including fevers, vomiting, and then being totally fine. That was the absolute worst. We both agree now that if that were to happen again, I’d at least be prepared for it. Yes, we can joke now, but believe me, then, it was a huge bone of contention about how terrible I had it and how much help I needed.
But just as I am about to flip my shit, he is an amazing father. Just last night, as my eldest woke up because they had a bellyache, he stayed in the room from 2 am on, sleeping on the floor by the side of the bed, at the ready with a bucket and consoling nature when vomit came around. (This was surprising in and of itself, as he has told me several times he can’t be around vomit. Yes, that’s changed as time went on, but the fact that he took over this round of sickness was still huge.) When I would come in to check on them, he would simply say, “I’ve got this. Go back to bed.”
So as you can see, although I am struggling to figure it out, I have good reason to. Because I work a full time job alongside of my husband, I feel as though we are equals and should be dividing up childcare the same way. On the other hand, I realize all of the stuff he does do for me, for my kids, for our home and for our future. He cares so much for us, and tries to show it in any way he can. I guess I will hesitate to jump over hurdle #7 until I feel more peaceful about all of this.