We moms are always on the go, whether it’s child-related or work-related. Between fulfilling the roles of Spouse, Career, and Parent, when do we get “me” time and why is that important to have? And why is it that, stereotypically, the husband comes home and scoffs at the stay at home mom who says, “I need a break.” The inequality between parenting these days is still rampant even though we are in 2018, so why is that?
Everyone in the world needs to recharge on occasion. Now, recharging doesn’t mean neglecting responsibilities and acting on impulse. Having time to yourself means, trying to make sure you have an hour, a couple hours or, a day, to yourself on occasion where you do things that relax you. That might mean for stay at home moms, they can just be themselves for an hour.
Let me tell you, as a stay at home mom, I can’t be “me,” I have to be Mom, and that means I am on my toes all the time. I don’t get a minute to myself, I can’t break down if I am having a crappy day, I have to smile, and push through. The emotional exhaustion alone at the end of the day is why moms say, “I need a break.” It doesn’t mean they are neglecting duties, it just means they need a mental break, maybe they need to sit and read a book, just take a power nap, or take a long shower (because long showers are such a treat these days!).
Mothers who stay at home are On The Job 24/7. They not only are at the beck and call of a baby but they are expected (most times) to take care of the house and even cook. When the husband gets home from a 9-5 job and they just want to sit and zone out in front of the television rather than spending time with their kids, that is a slap in the face to not only their wife but their child.
Now, not all fathers are like this, but lately, I’ve been hearing a lot from other women who don’t understand why their husbands are not present and helping out. So why aren’t they helping out?
Theory One: Societal Expectations
Personally, one theory, is that we as a society spoon feed this idea of how the ideal future is to get a career, get married, get a house, and have kids, and most of society goes down that path without truly thinking about what they truly want, or what it really takes to be a parent.
Being a parent isn’t a part-time job, it isn’t babysitting, it’s being the person that your child looks up to. You’re the person, that without you, they won’t survive. To all the dads out there who take their wife for granted, what happens if she suddenly is out of the picture (by death or some other circumstance) and you’re alone and have this baby to take care of? What happens? It’s your responsibility as Dad to be there for your child, to want to be there and hang out and watch them have their first moments, those first smiles, laughs, steps. If you come home and just sit down and ignore the family, what do you think you’re communicating with that action?
Coming home and being with your child isn’t work, it’s your job. It’s what you swore to do the second your partner got pregnant. Hell, it’s what you swore to do if you were trying to conceive.
Theory Two: Lack of Communication/ Lack of Maturity
It’s quite known that women mature faster than men, and women are better communicators than men, so possible reasons why the father is not fulfilling his fatherly responsibilities could be a combination of both reasons.
From women I’ve heard from, their main complaints are that the father gets home, watches TV or plays video games and the mother continues doing what she’s been doing all day, taking care of everything while the husband does nothing. Worse off, some mothers have even talked about their husbands getting angry at them for asking them to spend time with their own child.
If the husband gets angry, upset, cranky, it has everything to do with them. Maybe they had a stressful day at work, maybe they didn’t realize what having a kid meant (aka give up your life and put another individual ahead of yourself for 18 years to raise them) and they are angry at themselves. Either way, they need to “man up” so to speak. That doesn’t mean not feeling their emotions or neglecting themselves, but it means stepping up as a father and husband and doing their share. We are no longer in the 1950’s, it’s 2018 and the responsibility of kids don’t fall solely on the wife. Men and Women are Equal (or should be!). Kids are both partners responsibilities.
If the husband lacks maturity (which I personally think a full grown male adult who plays video games hours on end shows just that), then that could be a possible reason they are not being a present parent. If they use childish ways to make you feel guilty that shows a lack of maturity. Lack of maturity can come from many issues. Part of why so many grown men are “man child’s” is because of technology. Technology has made us lazy, we don’t know how to be patient and work hard for rewards. With video games, social media, porn, etc. it’s taught us as individuals to be superficial, escape artists of reality, and addicted to dopamine hits from how many likes you get.
If the husband is mature but you and him have not had proper communication about the future, what having kids would be like, schedules, etc. then the problem is easier to solve. Sitting down and communicating openly both of your feelings, expectations, and desires is very important. If you and your husband don’t have kids yet, do talk about it! Make clear boundaries and expectations.
I.e. If you’re a stay at home mom, the second your partner gets home, kids are their responsibility. Or, if you’re a working mom, you will continue with your career and not give it up to stay at home, which means you and your partner will need a sitter, or the dad will stay at home (Props to dads that do stay at home!).
The point is to make it clear that you are both equals, with needs and desires. One of you can’t give up everything while the other gives up nothing. That’s not fair, and not equal.
My husband and I have a system in place, and we talked about it throughout the pregnancy, making sure we were still on the same page. My husband and I agreed to the following:
I will stay at home with Xander until Fall 2018 and then I’ll go back to school on campus (From birth until fall 2018 I’ll take online classes). I will continue working with CTM, and writing my blog, and pursue other goals as they come.
Jak will continue going to school and work, and when he gets home on the weekdays, he is then responsible for taking care of Xander (that includes the night shift). On the weekends Xander is his responsibility 100%.
We play fair, meaning that if one of us invited out with friends if we both can’t go with Xander neither of us goes. If friends want to come over, by all means, come over, but it’s not fair for one of us to be able to continue life “without kids” while the other lives life as a parent.
Why this works for us is that we communicated ahead of time, we knew what the expectations were. We both agreed to them, and we keep talking about it, and if changes need to be made we make them. We come to compromises, which means both our needs get met as best as they can.
We also each have our individual thing we do with Xander. Xander knows the “Agoo” song I made up and that’s mainly our thing, whereas being in the rocking chair, that’s a dad thing. Xander gets time with each of us and bonds with each of us in different ways.
Talk. Talk with your partner if you’re having issues with responsibilities regarding parenting within the relationship. Be honest and open. Actually, write out the boundaries or expectations so both of you know your responsibilities, that way neither can say, “Well I didn’t know that,” or “How was I supposed to know, I’m not a mindreader.” It’s clearly written out keeping both parties accountable. Not all couples will need that level of structure, but some might. Be creative, be kind, and be ready to compromise. Both partners matter in a marriage, and most of all the kids matter and should get the very best from each parent.
Remember you and your spouse are on the same team! You both want to support and love each other!