Thursday, 27 May 2010

A mini rant-ette (that probably has a well worn path in the blogosphere)

When couples have a baby, they tend to end up having arguments that go along the lines of who has the harder life, who's having the least amount of sleep and who does the most stuff. These arguments reach a peak somewhere around 9 months after the baby is born. It's about this time you'll have a screaming row about why it's ALWAYS you who has to pack the baby bag and why does he ALWAYS just have to walk out of the house clutching keys and tutting about being late.

You might think that it will never get better. But it does. Eventually he learns that he gets shouted at less if he packs the baby bag and he might even suggest you go out with some friends so that you can get some you time. But mostly, you just learn to accept that life has changed a lot, particularly for you and that there is no point getting worked up about it.

It has taken me quite a long time to reach this place of acceptance (possibly one of the reasons I sailed across the Atlantic last year). But I do still find it incredibly hard to balance work and children and it continues to be a niggle that just won't die.

Take yesterday. I had a big client launch. I got up at 5am, raced into London, performed the PR luvvie dahling thing, raced back home, barrelled through more work while the kids played next door, then raced downstairs at 4.30 to make dinner. Realised that dinner was still frozen, but managed to defrost chicken, turn it into chicken nuggets, chops up potatoes to make chips, get veg on the go, race next door, grab kids, return to finish dinner. Force feed them food, while ironing karate outfits, get them dressed while they were still eating chicken pieces and then was charging out of the door, when my husband waltzed down from the office saying: Do you want me to take them?

Now I should have been pleased that I could get out of racing through traffic to get to karate and could at least use the time to catch up on work, but I just felt annoyed. Why is it that he gets to work undisturbed all afternoon, concentrating solely on his to do list, while I have to interrupt my work to charge about like a lunatic doing 1 billion other things?

Today, the same. I have to stop working at 2.30 to fetch the kids, get them back home and then become 'The Provider of Snacks' (I'm thinking about getting a super hero style cape for this role), 'The Swimming Pool Life Guard' and 'The Meanie' (this last title being awarded to me by son1 as I forced him to do his long overdue homework.) I then got to do laundry, make dinner and break up several fights. Meanwhile, my husband is upstairs working. The amount of work I have waiting for me is staggering, so it means I have to do it at night (when I'm tired) or early in the morning (another 5am start today).

I know, I know. His salary pays the mortgage. Yada yada yada. But how am I ever supposed to build a career that enables me to pay the mortgage when I'm so busy doing so many other unpaid jobs? Why is it that men have the luxury of working on just their job, while women juggle several things at once?

Before you think my husband needs a slap - in his defence, he does help around the house (when he's here). But he does what he's told to do. He doesn't have to THINK and PLAN what has to happen.

I try to see the bright side - I get a varied life and get to spend time with my children (although with today's behaviour that isn't much of a selling point) - but every now and then, that little wrinkle of resentment furrows my brow and if feels like the baby bag days all over again.

I know I'm not alone in this. Solutions on a post it please.


Belgravia wife - sort of said...

Hi I'm not sure I have a solution but there is nothing like leaving Dad in charge - last week for the first time in EIGHT years I had to spend the whole day with a client ie about nine hours.

When I got home, obviously the house was total carnage, every single toy was out and the paints, my daughter had been in my wardrobe in a big way. Husband said - 'You do this without getting PAID'.

I think it's all about expectations - I remember my obstetrician saying to me - I had to have have c sections for 2 & 3 - there is no way on earth that a surgeon would expect someone to get up and function after major surgery, let alone feed and care for a new baby. You sound to me like you are walking it ! Well done xx

PantsWithNames said...

Rant away, I know exactly where you are coming from.

JulieB said...

I can't offer any solutions either, I'm afraid...

At the risk of sounding like some bad 70s feminist, I feel your pain, sister! I succumb to rants like this on a regular basis myself.


Tara @ Sticky fingers said...

I hear you loud and clear and it's also a cause of rows in this house.
I think the trouble is we do it and when they get home at the end of the day the kids are happy, the house is tidy and there is nothing to suggest it's been a NIGHTMARE to organise.

I too have left hubby on his own with them for a whole weekend (sheesh) for my 40th. Of course I came home and he's all 'I am SO grateful for what you do, I don't know how you do it'.
But number 1, after a couple of weeks he's forgotten and number 2 he got through that weekend with me having prepared meals in advance, got the kids outfits ready and organised for his mum to help out on the Sunday!


susie @newdaynewlesson said...

no solutions really, but I think your pet peeve (all decisions needing to be made) was mine as well on this guest post I wrote.

What I do think is that you need to set up a list on the refrigerator of jobs needing doing and tell hubby to check there and do at least one or two every day.

Or like my "dream"solution on the post-get a wife...

Iota said...

Husband is very hands on, but I sometimes complain that the burden of responsiblity seems to weigh very heavy on my shoulders. Little decisions, big decisions, planning. And then often I seem to plan it to make sure he gets to join in the fun bits, ie taking them to things, or attending school events. I only have myself to blame, but I think I'm wired at some deep level to make sure that he has a positive experience as a father, and that the children see that. Eeeeugh.

No answers. Except talking about it helps, so keep doing that (with him, and in the blogosphere too).

Home Office Mum said...

Belgravia wife - last year I left my husband (with an extensive 'how to run the house and look after the kids' list) for 6 weeks as I sailed across the Atlantic. So he knows what it's like to be the sole parent- he just never had to work and do it at the same time
thanks for your support though

Pantswithnames - ranting is so cathartic isn't it?

Julie - glad it's not just me (but then again, I knew that. I think everyone has this argument)

Tara - I never got the 'I'm so grateful for what you do' speech when I went away. He found it easy. But as I said above, it's because when he was left in charge, he just had to look after kids. When he worked, the nanny looked after them. Never had to do both.

susie - I absolutely need a wife. Where can I get one?

Iota - that burden of responsibility also extends to the parenting of our children. And I sometimes (like today up at 4am) wake up gasping thinking: I am responsible for how these guys turn out. And right now, my parenting skills suck due to how much other stuff I have to do. You're right, talking about it is critical, otherwise the resentment just festers.

Metropolitan Mum said...

I create little escapes for myself every week. At least once. Sometimes I only sit in Starbucks and glance out of the window. It works wonders for my mood.

Potty Mummy said...

God I wish I had the answer to this one. Although I'll get back to you; I'm off on my own next weekend for 3 days - and wondering what kind of a state it will all be in when I get back!

Jo Blogs said...

We have quite a good division of labour chez Calamity - despite the chaos. But I'm with you on this one too! Why is it always me that has to make all the decisions, from what we have for dinner to where we go on holiday? It's a lot of pressure. Then I get the blame if it's not perfect. And, just once, could he sort out childcare & go and buy the new set of school shoes.

nmaha said...

Hi! this is my first time here and I can already relate. You know what got me 'He does what he's told to do', this is my point too...the doing is not easy but the non-stop planning is tougher....I hate it when my nanny calls in sick and I am the one who has to take a day off, whatever my work pressure....I can't really offer solutions but I can listen to you, so if it helps rant on

Anonymous said...

I have fallen in love with you. You have just described my life. Here I sit at 10pm after having woken at 6am to commute to London for one job, come home and keep the rest of the clients happy, and then will have to wake up and take the kids the entire weekend as husband is at a conference that he paid for to improve his skills. Cry.

P.S. Husband is amazing and helpful but yes, how come HE gets to sit at his desk and I have to juggle?