Our goal is to provide information, ideas and support for working women who are also full-time mothers.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

It Takes Two

When my husband and I got married, we vowed to have a marriage based on equality. And we were pretty good at it, or so we thought. Any relationship involves a steady balance of give and take, but I never fully realized this until we had our first child.

When it was just the two of us, it was okay that I cooked and did the majority of the cleaning. He handled the car and outdoor maintenance, so it worked out well. But add a baby into that mix and things have to change. There are so many littles things that babies need that you just don't think about until it's right there in front of you! We muddled through while I was on maternity leave, but it was a different story when I went back to work. For some reason, my husband didn't understand that he needed to pitch in with dinners, housework, baby care, baby play, etc. And I went along every night, doing it myself, muttering insults under my breath, utterly exhausted from a full day of work, a short night of sleep, and the heavy guilt of a working mom.

This went on for about 2 months before I lost it. He was sitting on the couch watching TV one night after she had gone to bed, while I was up washing bottles, washing dishes, and organizing things for the next day. I looked at him and just started bawling. He was shocked and stunned, of course, because he had no idea what I had been harboring for so long! I was shocked and stunned that he hadn't picked up on it and tried to help out. Such is the story of men and women. Lesson learned.

So from that point on, we laid out duties as 50/50 as we could. I told him where I needed his help, and he tried to take on things without being told. He did need direction at first (and many reminders along the way), but it didn't take too long before we were on track and things were running somewhat smoothly. The best thing I ever did was leave baby alone with daddy, on their own, at least once per month. It took a lot of courage for us both, but after the first successful day, it got easier for us all. And, it prepared us all for when the next baby came along. Because when that baby came along, I realized that parenthood could actually get harder than it already was. Two young children, both needing/wanting attention, can wear a person out. Organizational skills had to be honed, especially while working. In some ways, it was an easier transition because my husband and I had already gone through the "who does what" trials, and he stepped right up to help out. But we hit bumpy roads along the way from time to time. Baby #2 is only 8 months old and we still hit potholes. I would like to complain about his lack of intuition, his laziness, his complete misunderstanding of what it's like to be a mommy (a working mommy at that). But really, I can't. He's a great dad and he's come a long way. He doesn't bat an eye when I ask him to do something for one or both of the kids, and he actually does take the lead on getting baths or getting them ready for bed at times. He drives me crazy a lot, and he still has bouts of cluelessness, but I know I have it pretty good. I have to remind myself of that a lot, but it's true.

I have several single parent friends and I honestly look at them in awe for what they do everyday, virtually on their own. I know what a precarious balance it is in our house, with two parents to split the duties. I cannot imagine doing it on my own, day after day. So when I want to throttle my husband for the times that he slacks in helping out, I try to remember that he's there. And 90% of the time, he tries.

Do I really expect too much????

I know I'm a perfectionist but I don't really think I expect that much. Why is everything left for mommy to do?????

I had surgery recently so daddy got a taste of what it's like to be mommy and he didn't like it one bit. He complained the whole weekend and I was only out of commission for like 3 days and the 4th day I started helping out. Being a mommy is hard work!!!!

Each week involves working 40 hours/week, picking the boys up from my moms or daycare, multiple loads of laundry (washing and folding), touch up cleaning (thank goodness we finally sprang for a cleaning service 1X/month), grocery shopping, putting dishes in and taking them out of the dishwasher, giving bathes, packing lunches, getting things ready to go for the next morning, feeding the boys dinner, making sure my little one gets his medication 2x/day, and putting both kids to bed. I take care of party planning, phone calls, and all the other miscellaneous household things that seem to arise on a daily basis. I'm exhausted at day's end and it's just expected for mommy take care of whatever needs taking care of.

I will say my husband is good about getting the boys up in the morning and getting my oldest to school 2 days/week then watching them in the morning and dropping them off with my mom around lunch before he goes to work. I know that is more than a lot of dads do. Occasionally he'll even clean up after himself or run the vacuum but it's few and far between and then he wonders why I'm tired and crumpy. He also takes out the trash once a week and mows the lawn in the summer once a week if I'm lucky (I absolutely refuse to do this stuff because I know if I did it, it would become another of my long list of responsiblities.)

Monday, November 06, 2006

My X-pectations

Nobody said it was going to be easy to navigate the waters of divorce; steering two young minds toward adulthood, but is it really too much to expect that both parents would at least be headed in the same general direction?

My journey has just begun, and I am already finding that my efforts to keep things afloat require constant vigilance to avoid having the X sink my battleship.

On the most basic level, prompt payment of child support should not be too much to ask. For working moms who rely on daycare providers, the cost of having a job is not cheap. Add on the financial responsibility for maintaining a separate household, and unless you have a very well-paying job or win the Powerball jackpot, the child support money is truly important. I am not sure why my X is under the impression that child support allows me to afford frequent trips to the day spa, fine dining, and all of life’s luxuries because there are days when I am lucky to fit in a shower and a dinner of mac & cheese. Clearly he thinks my dinghy is a yacht.

While I am struggling to paddle upstream, the X seems to feel that visitation is the time to break out the party boat. Good times and overindulgence prevail. My efforts to provide my children with a minimal amount of junk food and a good night’s sleep get tossed overboard. Sticking out your tongue and bouncing a ball off of your sibling’s head are party games. I understand the whole “trying to make up for lost time” and “guilt” issues that come into play for the X; however, he is missing the boat by trying to be a pal when he should be a parent. If he really wants to do what is best for his kids, he needs to stand up for what is right, do the work, and help them learn to steer themselves in the right direction.

There are countless ways that I wish my X would change as a parent. I would like us to be united in our efforts to raise our children in such a way that they will become responsible, caring, hard-working, and happy adults. Then again, if I really thought the X would turn into an A+ kind of guy, I might still be docked in a port of marital bliss.


Expectations of the "Daddy"

While I have many-a-vent about my husband, I have to say that lately, he has been really wonderful about helping out with me being a working Mom. One of the hardest thing for me is getting out the door in the morning. For example, this morning I needed 2 breakfasts packed, 1 lunch for kids, lunch for me, gym bag, sheet for each kid, blankie for each kid, 1 stuffed animal, coffee mug, keys, purse, sunglasses, check for daycare, and a replenishment of spare clothes for the kids. Needless to say, without a lot of organization, it would take me hours to get out the door!

My dh has really been wonderful about the mornings. We (he) does a lot of the prep the night before for lunches - but he gets up, packs 4 lunch bags (for the kids, himself, and me) and put ALL of the above items in the car for me. He leaves for work before me, but this allows me to focus on JUST getting the kids dressed and out the door in the morning.

It's really wonderful to have it all ready - I am so lucky... and I have been sure to tell him how much I appreciate it - it makes my mornings go so much more smoothly!


Expectations of our partners in parenthood -- "the Daddy"

This week we'll be taking our vents public!! We are going to blog about what we expect from our husbands/SO/Ex-husbands -- our partners in parenthood -- the Daddy.

Beth Ann