Don’t forget – the iTunes contest is still going on
I was reading this article yesterday and I was struck by a part of it. Many women complain about their husbands not doing enough when it comes to the house and kids (and most are justified), and I do it as much as anyone. But this one paragraph got me:
“Here’s my take,” says Barry Schwartz, author of Paradox of Choice. “There’s been a lot of attention paid to the amount of work women do in the household. But it’s not really equal. I think what hasn’t been focused on is the emotional and mental work — namely, who makes the decisions. This is incredibly important: Even if the husband’s around, and shares the kid workload, who’s making the decisions about playdates, schools? The overwhelming, crushing responsibility of it all still lies with the mother. It’s a false sense of being equals.”
Exactly!! Someone finally put into words what I haven’t been able to.
I do bitch about mr b not doing enough, and often times I am right. But I also know that my housekeeping skill, etc could use some improving too, and then I feel guilty about complaining about his. Or sometimes, I’ll think about the things he does do and I’ll realize that maybe he’s not as bad as I implied with my complaints. And yet, I still feel undeniably right about them.
And this guy hit the nail on the head. It’s not the actual work. OK, it is the actual work sometimes, but more than that, it’s the implication and the responsibility that wears me out the most. It may not be physical exertion, but it is exhausting nonetheless.
Because of our schedules, mr b leaves earlier and gets home later. We work the same hours, but his drive is slightly longer. And to be honest, he likes to stop for coffee in the mornings (which I understand, but even those few minutes of his time would make the mornings easier). So because of this, I am the one that is responsible for getting the kids up and ready in the morning. I am the one responsible for dropping them at my parents or school or the bus stop or daycare. And because I am the one who gets home before day care close, it’s my responsibility to pick them up. If I have to work late and can‘t make it, it’s my responsibility to find an alternative.
When we get home, they are hungry, so it’s my responsibility to make dinner. Often times this involves cleaning up first – I’m responsible for that too, then.
And while I know he can’t get home as early as I do every day – but sometimes he can, and does he ever call me and say, I’ll get the kids? I’ll let you guess. And while I can’t say for sure, I would be willing to bet that when the end of his workday is near, he never feels the stress of “I have to get home” or “I can’t be late.” I sometimes wonders if he takes his time, or decides he has one more thing to do, or one more call to make simply to avoid the responsibility. His drive is “Yay, day’s over” and mine is “Goddammit, this traffic is going to make me late! Move, motherfuckers!”
And I realize that because of out work schedules, there isn’t much that can be done about this, but it sure would be nice if when he got home, he would pick up some slack – clean up after dinner, give the girl a bath. Something, anything that he clearly feels is my job. I would appreciate it if when he walked in the door and saw me knee deep in cleaning or cooking or whatever, that he would ask what he could do, instead of heading straight for the couch or the computer, while telling me how exhausted he is. I would appreciate it if he would call me and let me know he’s going to be late. I would appreciate it if he would make a point of listening for his phone on the way home, since my rushed schedule doesn’t allow for me to add a trip to the store when I realize we are out of paper towels (and seriously – I know it’s not very green, but for me – trying to cook or clean or live without paper towels is like trying to be a crackhead WITHOUT CRACK). When I ask him to get the girl bathed or wake up the boy in the morning to get in the shower, he does it, but not without a big SIGH, leaving me feeling like I have to say thanks for something that is his responsibility as much as mine.
And even when it’s not about actual physical work, responsibility can be a daunting thing.
I know when pre-school tuition is due. I know how much it is. I know when the boy need lunch money. I know when the book fair is. I know when it’s gym day. I know when it’s “wear purple” day. I know when report cards are coming. I know what library books are due and when. I buy birthday and Christmas presents, for the kids and for everyone else. I send cards. I know when the sheets were washed last. I know when holiday parties are. I make treat bags. I make sure we have lunch fixins. I go to birthday parties. I plan birthday parties. I know when the dentist and doctor’s appointment are. I know what size clothes the kids wear. And what size shoes. I know what vaccinations they have had and still need. I plan the vacations.
I am responsible. And it is exhausting.