This article showed up on my Facebook feed the other day.
It popped up just minutes after my husband and I had finished a "conversation"... you can read between the lines there.
Afterwards, I had opened my Facebook because whew that was some intense thinking and I needed to balance it out with something that probably kills brain cells but doesn't take much thinking.
Lo and behold, someone had written about the EXACT thing I had been trying to (unsuccessfully) put into words so my husband would get it. Cause you know, we've had this conversation a million times before with me always feeling like he's not getting it and nothing ever really changing... leaving me to believe even more that he's not getting it.
So if you've already clicked on the link and read the article, then you may not even need to keep reading this. But if you're up for hearing more about my imperfect marriage, continue on.
As every mother knows, functioning from one day to the next requires an obscene amount of prep work and planning. This is especially true in our situation, when at least half the week is spent driving an even more obscene length of time in the morning to get my oldest to school before going to preschool and work. If certain things are not done every night, it will translate into a disastrous morning.
So like most women I know, I walk into the house from a long day at work and immediately switch gears to making dinner, checking backpacks, homework, laundry, making lunches, setting out clothes for the next day, getting breakfast set up for the next day; among the ever present nag of laundry, toys that magically reappear everywhere, baths, and answering the call for “maaaamaaaa” from bed for the 436th time.
And while the Lord may have intended Sunday as a day of rest, I know ya’ll (like me) are running around the grocery store, checking the upcoming schedule, figuring out how the hell someone is going to be in two places at one time, maybe cleaning a toilet or two, and making every attempt to win the losing battle of laundry.
What is my husband doing during all this, you ask? Ahh, perhaps you see where this is going.
My husband is a great guy. He’s an awesome dad, a loving spouse, and a much needed calming presence in our home. He’s also very simply, a good man. He’s invested in his family and also invested in a job that revolves around helping kids that are not ours by birth right.
Yet I’m often left feeling like I’m the only one who leaves work and comes home to a second full-time job.
It’s not just physically exhausting. In fact, my full-time (paid) job is far more physically exhausting than any of the tasks listed above. Yet I still lay down at the end of each day totally spent; often overwhelmed by the thought of doing it all again tomorrow.
It's EMOTIONALLY exhausting to always be “on.” Always thinking about the next lunch to pack, the next bill to pay, the next field trip form to fill out, the next homework assignment, the next dinner, the next load in the dishwasher, the next grocery list, the next doctor’s appointment. Coordinating sports registrations, dance registrations, vaccinations, flu shots, parent-teacher conferences, speech-language evaluations, allergy shots, and the one million other “things” that come with raising children warrants a personal secretary. I want to believe that my husband would figure it out if I wasn’t around to do it; but I can’t quite say that with confidence.
I’ve tried to point out these differences. I’ve tried to follow his “suggestion” of asking him to do specific things to help. Sure enough he will do whatever I ask him to do; yet the stress is not any less when I need to delegate tasks. Managing the one million details necessary for our world to keep turning smoothly is not any less when I need to remember to remind him that the laundry needs switched over.
It's not even about the laundry.
While our society is slowly getting away from designating household tasks as male or female, it is still women that most often carries the weight of managing the household; particularly the emotional exhaustion that comes with the ever present logistical planning of running a family.
While I lay in bed at night, thinking about what I forgot to do or what needs to be done tomorrow, my husband is enjoying his sweet, uninterrupted slumber.
I know that it is not my husband's intention to allow me to experience this emotional exhaustion and I'm actually not really sure he even understands how much behind-the-scenes work is put into making our lives run. As far as he's concerned, everything just magically gets done.
I also know that my husband fights every day to give his school "kids" equal opportunities. More than teaching them how to write or add numbers, he focuses on building a community at school that allows for the understanding of differences... hoping that this kind of empathy will lead to a future world of more acceptance, more fairness, and more equality.
He's far from incapable of understanding how inequity works. Yet we still have this problem in our home. This problem that will never be fixed if only one of us ever sees it as a problem. And as much as my husband can sweep it under the rug as he sits back down on the couch, I am likely also at fault for bitching about it and then simply going back to packing the lunch boxes.
I didn't write this because I have the answers. I also didn't write this to throw my husband under the bus. I wrote this because I've had enough conversations to know this problem doesn't just exist in our marriage. I wrote this because our marriage-like all marriages-are far from perfect. I wrote this because pretending it is perfect will never get us anywhere.
Reality is that regardless of change or no change, my marriage will continue. As much as I'd love to have some magic words that could open my husband's eyes, I'm not in the business of threatening... especially when it would be a bluff. I'll keep on doing everything I'm doing because like so many other mothers, it's what we do when we love.
But because there are little eyes watching our every move, I KNOW we can do better. The expectations of their future selves and future spouses are being built right now as they watch their parents. Systemic issues continue to be systemic issues until a generation makes the choice to change... so we will keep having the conversation with the hope that change will happen.
And in the meantime, I'll keep telling him to do the damn laundry.
If you missed the link above, you can read it here. And yes, my husband read it!
Photo by Dan Gold on Unsplash