The job that never ends

3 09 2008

Has anyone else noticed that when Jeff’s away, and I’m all, “Oh poor me, I have to parent ALONE!” I somehow have SO MUCH more time on my hands? Like, enough time that I can easily post here daily, in addition to being the only parent for my boys? (Just today I: fed the boys, took them outside to play, changed multiple pairs of underpants that fell victim to potty-training accidents, did a craft with Ethan, made lunch, gave naps, nursed the baby multiple times, cooked dinner, took the boys outside again, gave baths, picked up a zillion toys, swept the floor, did two loads of laundry, washed dishes, cut up the chicken in preparation to be cooked tomorrow, blogged, AND THEN DIED. See?)

And yet when he’s here, and I’ve got someone else equally (theoretically) sharing the responsibilities with me, my posts are few and far between. Shouldn’t I technically have more free time when I’ve got my other half here? It might have something to do with the fact that 2 children + 1 parent = doable, while 3 children +1 parent = lots of time spent banging my head on the wall. Not that I’m implying that Jeff is completely useless around here. Perhaps likening him to my third child is exaggerating a bit. To be fair, if I need something done around the house, all I have to do is ask him. He usually gets on it, while not always immediately, relatively soonish. And without complaint (for the most part) or argument. Which is better than some people have it, I know. And while I appreciate that, well… It’s just that, no one has to ask ME to run that load of poopy laundry (toilet-training toddler + 8 month old = POOP POOP WE’VE GOT YER POOP GET YER POOP HERE). Nobody asks ME to remember that we’re almost out of milk so that it can be added to the grocery list. Nobody asks ME to pick up the toys all over the floor. When I walk by a mess, I see it, and I tend to it. Does he just not see the mess? Is the mess invisible to all eyes but mine?

All this leads me to wonder where the boundaries are in our relationship when it comes to me, the “stay-at-home-mom” (a phrase I am SO OVER) vs. him, the “work-outside-the-home-father/husband”. I completely appreciate and am grateful for all that Jeff does for our family: he gets up at 5 am, he commutes nearly an hour each way, he has to endure PT three times a week, he travels, he has bosses and coworkers to deal with that he may not always like, he has to work late sometimes, weekends other times. I am grateful to him for the hard work he does that pays our bills and fills our tummies.

But when he gets home, roughly around 5 every evening, he’s tired. And understandably so. And he wants to relax. Understandably so, right? But I’m still at work. I’ve been there since the moment I got up, and I didn’t get no 1- to 2-hour lunch break. I didn’t even get a 5 minute smoke (or in my case, internet) break. I didn’t get upwards of two hours to myself in the car to just drive, enjoy some music, get some thinking done, reflect on things.

My day begins at about 7am (sometimes earlier, sometimes later; who knows? IT’S ALWAYS A SURPRISE) and does not stop until about 9pm. When Jeff gets home and is all done with work, I’m just starting yet another shift. I’m not trying to say that one of our jobs is any harder than the other person’s. They’re too different to compare in that way, I think. I would just like it if when he got home, it’d go from me doing my job 100% and him doing his 0%, to each of us doing my job 50%. Does that make sense? My job changes from 100% to about 80%. He’s doing some stuff, sure. But only the stuff that I point out to him and nag at ask him to do.

Okay, I’m done venting. I’m so whiny and complain-y lately. You want to throw tomatoes at me, don’t you? Go ahead. I’ll just ask Jeff to clean up the mess. What tomatoes? he’ll say. So oblivious, that boy.


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6 responses

3 09 2008
AndreAnna

This is called the spousal warp of horrors as I like to call it. When Mike is home, though he is very helpful and cooks and cleans, the house is messier, the kids are nuttier and my free time vanishes. On the days he’s in the office, the house is spotless, the laundry done, the kids quiet and happy. It’s not that I don’t want him here; I love having the other set of hands and spending time with him.

I just don’t get how having more help can actually make more work.

This is a phenomenon that must be studied.

3 09 2008
ebj123

Hear hear sister, hear hear. Did you read the NYT article awhile back on the division of labor between men and women? It was fascinating.
And yes, I absolutely believe that men don’t see the messes. I wish I had that talent, believe me.
Sometimes I wonder how much my husband would get to on his own if I just never said anything, and I try to back off, and it seems that he does both more than you would think and less than I want, somehow.
It is much harder to have him home in terms of doing house stuff, but much easier in terms of child care.

3 09 2008
aliasmother

What’s that statistic about what happens when people get married? The time the man spends on housework drops by 1 hour/week but the time the woman spends increases by 7 hours/week? What kind of weird ass time-warp is that? And yet I totally believe it. Even before we had the Buddha, I somehow was spending more time cleaning than I did when I was single, even though, theoretically, the work should have been cut in half. It’s not like I didn’t clean or cook when I was single… Then you add in the kid thing and…yeah. It must be the New Math.

I have nothing else to add other than last night we had our 1,517th round of “If you want to help why don’t you just help instead of waiting for me to ask you to help I mean I do the dishes every night so if you want to make my life easier than do the dishes which are sitting here just like they always are I shouldn’t have to ask why don’t you just do it (inhale).” So, I hear you.

4 09 2008
Nora

My mind hurts, thinking of all the extra things I have to do when my husband is around versus when he’s not. And yet I like it better when he’s here. I don’t understand the science.

Sometimes when we’re both tired of our jobs and not being very nice about it, he says to me, “Well you’re not the one who has to _______.” And I’m all, “Oh no you di’in’t.”

4 09 2008
Ethan's Oma

UGHHHH !! What I really (used to) HATE was when I would hear the words ” well YOU’RE not the one who has to get up and go to WORK in the morning !!” excuse me ? If I in fact did NOT get up and “go to work” in the morning, there would be children still in their beds, in dirty diapers, no food in the house, etc……

10 09 2008
Mae West

It is so good to know that everyone else who is married has this same problem I just thought it was me. You all hit it right on the nail. I find that my husband is just usually in the way when I try to get stuff done. He’ll help but ask : where does this go?, how do you want me to do this?, where’s the soap?, and so on. I just end up doing it myself because I spend more time explaining things like he can’t figure it out for himself.

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