Thursday, June 19, 2008

Hot Button Issue

So, judging from my last post I should've suspected that I was subconsciously gearing up for a conversation about labor division issues with Dear Husband.  And wouldn't you know, it happened while we were having dinner last night.  He was teasing that I was sort of "crabby" on the flights home from FL on Monday night, which obviously made me want to defend myself right away.  I chose my words carelessly and said something to the effect of, "Well, it's hard flying all day with a 14 month old and considering I'm his PRIMARY CARETAKER, I was pretty exhausted."  He got offended!  

Spouse: "Primary Caretaker?  Like I have no involvement?  That would be like me telling you I'm stressed because I'm the 'breadwinner' in this house."

Me: "Well [with the exception of my couple little consulting projects], that would be sorta true. No biggie."

Spouse: "Yeah, but it's not exactly true, or politically correct, nor does it make me feel very good to hear it."

Now, I wouldn't admit this at the time, but my choice of verbiage was probably a passive aggressive way of saying that I wished he would be a little bit more hands-on with the kiddo duties in general.  The way I recall the flight, K. was using me as a human jungle gym for most of the time in the air, hanging on me, pulling on my hair, whimpering, etc. while DH dozed, or read a magazine in his seat, across the aisle from us.  In the moment it certainly seemed like the division was a little bit off.  (Now, I know that I should probably ASK for help more often than I do... but is it wrong of me to wish that he would instinctively KNOW when to offer it?) The complication is that both DH and I know that in many cases, K. can only be comforted by his Mama... so I think DH defaults to this conclusion many times, whether it is accurate or not. In any case, the conversation turned out OK, and DH reminded me of the many things he does - despite working a 60-70 hour week - to help out with the childrearing. And it's true.  And he pointed out that these were the roles we both agreed to in the beginning, etc., etc.  

To be fair, his job is very demanding, just as my "job" is, albeit in a different sort of way.  So, yes, fine... I'm OK with that.  I think I just needed to vent - a little acknowledgement of the difficulty of child raising every once in a while would be nice, wouldn't it?  I mean, it's the best thing in the world to be a parent, and I'd never give this up for anything.  But it's also OK to admit that it IS. SIMPLY. EXHAUSTING.  

What do you all think?  Am I feeling too sorry for myself?


Sweet Pea Chef said...

SAHM is the hardest job ever. Period, the end. I feel some resentment at times too. I have had to work on asking/telling him how I need help, but I sometimes still get frustrated that he can't read my mind! :)

julie said...

I love that part of his argument was 'dear, you're not being politically correct'! I can see me pulling that one on my hubby - he would look at me like I had two heads! I have most (~87%)of the child care and housework responsibilities even though I still work 60%. But when I start to feel like it's unfair, I think about all the 'other' stuff that he does that I don't even have to think about, like paying bills and planning vacations and taking care of the lawn and cars and deciding where to invest $ and planning for retirement and education costs and doing the taxes and arguing with the roofing guy when it wasn't fixed after his third visit and negotiating a mortgage refi and changing light bulbs and squishing big jumpy bugs - I could go on for a while. My point is that I get bitter sometimes (usually when I'm cleaning a toilet) but I try to think beyond dishes and laundry to see if there is really a true disparity in the division. When I calculate all the 'others' I find that it's not as big as I had thought and I try to give him more credit for his contributions.

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Arlington, VA, United States
Maestro and mom to a wee virtuoso

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