The Balance of Power: Mommy vs Daddy Duties by Evelyn Danford-Houder
Let me start this by saying, working Moms, I salute you...part of me wishes I were you. I am trying to be you. But honestly, coming from a role that involves intense deadlines and long hours, I am struggling to find a fit for my skill set that will allow for me to still see my baby. I am not lazy, was more of a workaholic pre-baby and even while pregnant, but now I know that I need to find the right fit. Somewhere I can work my tush off while there and then leave in time to get home and work my tush off in a different capacity (and that’s a bit what this rant is really about). I also know everyone doesn’t have the flexibility to take their time finding the right fit, and I do consider myself fortunate, but today, my pot is boiling over.
First, let me explain “baby jail”...
We have a travel crib (aka baby jail) set up in the kitchen so our curious and spirited 8 month old can be set down and won’t get herself into any of the various death traps in our 100+ year old SF rental. Our home still hasn’t been baby proofed, bc my husband believes he can do it. (I believe I can complete a triathlon but still haven’t started training.) So you literally have to constantly have eyes on her, or place her in this little baby jail to keep her safe.
I use this “baby jail” when I need to change out the laundry, do dishes, cook...basically anything that requires my full attention be taken away from the baby.
Around 4pm yesterday I set her in it and prepared our family meal, fed the baby, cleaned the baby and her surrounding “meal war zone” and continued to entertain her until my husband got home. He played with her for roughly 30-45min while I unpacked a box of deliveries and then joined them. As it inched closer to 7pm, I prepared the baby for bed, and put her to sleep, then I heated up our meal, ate dinner with my husband, cleared the table, cleaned the kitchen and put away leftovers. By this time it was after 8pm, and I indulged in some wine and chocolate while texting with friends (my day is finally done and this is “me time”) before falling asleep.
I woke up at 5am to my husband letting me know “the baby is crying” as he rolls over (yes I realize we are lucky to have a sleeper...but this rant is focused on husband dynamic) ...I then explain to him that I think she’s not actually up (she wasn’t up...just calling out in her sleep).
At 6:30 I crawl out of bed (while husband still sleeps) to get the baby (who is now actually up). I feed her, I change her, I beg husband to let me use the bathroom before he sets up camp in there for his 45 minute morning ritual (why do men need so long in the dang bathroom?!?). He finishes and I run in, then I get the honor of plunging the toilet after it stops up (), as I change baby’s diaper I realize her trash is full, so I take the baby’s diaper trash out, place baby in “baby jail”, pump for stored milk, wash bottles and pump supplies and get baby back down for her morning nap.
My husbands contribution to the morning is a sigh as he says “I’m just trying to get to work” when I ask him to please put his clothes away (clothes that have been sitting, clean on top of his drawers for over a week). I do all our laundry (don’t get me into why I refuse to put his clean, folded laundry away for him. That’s an agreement we came to years ago after I reorganized his closet and folded laundry one too many times and then discovered it destroyed days after).
I write all this to ask: What the ACTUAL F&@* do these men think we do??? I love being a mom, I love keeping things organized and clean, I love seeing my family happy and healthy, I really do...But how can they watch us run circles around them both literally and figuratively and still make comments about us “going back to work”...
Whether we go to an office and receive a paycheck or not...if you have the title MAMA I guarantee you were never NOT at work. You’ve been working since that nesting instinct popped up while LO was in your belly (if not before...) and those of you already back at a job site are working TWO full time jobs. The one with your LinkedIn title and the one with the Mama Title.
I know I shouldn’t generalize and that there are husbands out there who share the brunt of the work (I’ve actually seen a few of those unicorn husbands in real life!), but I’m so sick of the knowledge that the majority of my female friends complain their husbands still turn over in bed and mumble “the baby is awake”. I don’t want my daughter to think it’s acceptable behavior for her dad to walk by the nursery and comment, “it smells bad” without it dawning on him that it would smell better if HE TOOK THE TRASH OUT.
I just don’t understand how this somewhat intelligent, self-described feminist who married a kind, loving and evolved man, ended up with gripes that sound like they’ve come from the generation before us.
Are same sex couples struggling with the same issues? Do I need to suck it up for the sake of peace in our relationship? Will my daughter look down at me one day for allowing this behavior to continue? Thanks for listening...I’ll now be getting back to my job applications so I can “go back to work”...
Evelyn is a Florida Native who now lives in beautiful San Francisco. She's a new mama to the adorable Avri and figuring herself and her new identity as she goes. She's one of the Extraordinary Mama's here to help us feel so not alone!