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Friday, October 31, 2014

Elizabeth Street

DOES YOUR PARTNER DO AS MUCH PARENTING AND HOUSEWORK AS YOU DO?

Aug 16, 2013

Does Your Partner Do As Much Parenting and Housework as You Do?

Many mothers I talk to often say the same thing: We do more housework and child-rearing then our spouses.

Several of my mommy friends have complained that their husbands sleep late in the morning (mine included), so they are the ones who end up having to get the kids up, make them breakfast, brush their teeth, get them dressed and drop them off at daycare or school.

This is a reoccurring conversation I have with my husband. He hasn’t quite grasped the inequity between us. I tend to put my children’s needs before mine, which may be where the inequality lies. My husband doesn’t have the same urgency to make sure the children are comfortable and content. He’ll eat his breakfast before the kids have their breakfast. He’s terrible at multi-tasking and can only do one thing at a time while I can juggle several things at once such as talk on the phone, feed the baby, and write a grocery list. Is this because I'm a woman?

One thing is certain: My husband does less housework than I do. Way less.

My husband, however, begs to differ. “I do a lot more than the average father,” he said a few months ago as we discussed my mountainous household workload versus his his mole hill.

“Like what?” I ask.

He began to list all the things he did such as putting toys away (he hates clutter so it doesn’t really count), making nice dinners (as if I don’t make a decent dinner), loading up the dishwasher (he just presses start), taking out the garbage (OK, he’s good about that), installing car seats (this is only a few times a year) and getting the car washed (this has occurred a handful of times).

It’s not a competition, I tell myself, but if I were to inform him about all the things that I do, my list would be a mile long--there's no comparison. But I opt to let him know in extreme detail what I’ve done during that day, thinking he’ll understand the point I’m trying to get across: I simply do more work.

“Today, I changed four poopy diapers, one which was a blowout so the baby got a bath and then I had to immediately do laundry. I made two different breakfasts and lunches, fed both kids--the baby threw mushy banana all over the floor which dried on the floor which I cleaned with soapy water, but then the baby knocked over the bucket and there was a bigger mess. ” I paused, wondering if he would at least give me some recognition or express gratitude for my diligence in taking good care of the household and children.

My husband’s response: “Sounds like you had a busy day."

As we got ready to eat the steak that he overgrilled, I smelled something stinky, like a poopy diaper. I checked the baby’s bottom and sure enough, the baby had done a doody.

“The baby needs a diaper change,” I said, as my husband cut into his steak. I watched as he took a bite and chewed. I waited for him to put down the fork and say he would change the baby’s diaper.

“I’ve changed four poopy diapers today,” I said. “And countless wet diapers.”

He took another bite of steak and asked me to pass the salt.

Over the past year with two young kids, I’ve learned one way to cope with resentment about this inequitable standard was to ask for help, which I finally do.

“The baby has a dirty diaper, can you change it?”

He looked at the baby, who was bouncing and babbling in my arms.

“He seems happy to me,” my husband said.

I gave him a dirty look and got ready to unleash a diatribe, but my husband interrupted. “I was going to offer to change his diaper. But I want to finish eating my dinner while it’s still warm.”

I ended up changing the diaper.


By Eunice Park

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