Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Why I want

As a recently-created stay-at-home mom, I think a lot about gender roles these days. Our household is pretty traditional in some ways--my Husband works to support us all, I stay at home with the baby and take care of all the cooking, cleaning, errand-running, etc. We made the choice to do this and in general I'm happy to be able to do it. I think of myself as still a pretty modern woman and my Husband as an enlightened kind of guy. Then I realized that on some level we're maybe not as enlightened as I assume.

Example #1:

Husband goes out running with his buddies nearly every Saturday and Sunday. These are his long runs and he's usually not home til close to 11:00. (We get up at 6:30'ish, so that's half the day for us.) Plus, he'll often run an errand or 2 while he's already out--maybe he'll pick up a dozen bagels from the bagel shop, or run by Radio Shack to look at fancy new radios to replace our old kitchen model. I'll find out about the extra stop usually after he comes breezing back home.

Contrast this with the following typical conversation:

Me: "Honey, would it be o.k. if I ran out for an hour tomorrow to go get a haircut? Would that give you enough time to get a run in? I could go ahead and give the girls lunch..."
Husband: "Sure, I'll be home at 11:00. Do you want to make an appointment for afterwards?"
Me: "O.k., they could probably do that. And I'll feed the girls."
Husband: "Great."
Me: "Oh, good! I've been needing a trim for a month now! It shouldn't take long." And then when I return home I thank Husband excessively and, still feeling a little guilty, take over watching the girls so he can get on the computer for a couple of hours or maybe leave again to go sock shopping or whatever.

Example #2 (which, pathetically, happens every morning):

Me: "Honey, can you keep an eye on Bean while I go use the bathroom?"
Husband: "Sure. Come here, little Bean!"
Bean: (squeals)

Contrasted with:

Husband: (silence as he walks back to the bathroom)
Me: (playing with the baby)

Now, don't get me wrong. I feel no resentment for Husband not seeking my permission for a visit to the bathroom. Nor do I resent him for going on runs every weekend and having that time with his friends outside of the house. It's something important to him, and I only wish I was that disciplined about getting in some exercise. I DO wish I didn't think twice about seeking free time for myself. I resent maybe just a little that I am the primary caretaker of our girls, even knowing that's how Husband and I chose together to set up our life.

I remember that the first year of a baby's life is the most intense from when Sister was a baby. Bean has just gotten through her first year and it's getting easier, but I'm feeling like I REALLY need a break now. I'm just not even sure what would make it better at this point, but I think it would have to be something big. A good night's sleep only works for the next day, and otherwise my bad attitude is just unfixable. What's a burned-out mama to do?


Mama D said...

I can totally relate to this. Audrey will be eight months at the end of this week. Since she has started crawling and standing I feel like I am losing my mind. It is only 11:30 and I am frusterated already. I am hoping it gets easier after the first year... I don't have much farther to go. I was laying in bed last night at 3:30 am after getting A back to bed. Laying there thinking about the exercise I want to be getting. How I probably can't get to the gym tommorow (today, and I didn't). I'm really beginning to resent this and I need to do something about it.

Dawn said...

You know Sugar, some of the worst fights Terrance and I ever had were over his "babysitting" his child. I mean - parent your daughter. Don't do me the favor of "babysitting her", so I can go and do the same things he was skipping off to do.

I'm not sure I ever got that clearly expressed to him. And that is why we have One child.

Stacie said...

The asking thing rings true to me. My hubby would never tink to ask to go somewhere. But since my role is SAHM, my job never ends. Never a day off, never a lunch break, or even a potty break fer chrissake! I guess that we're feeling the AH part... TRAPPED! I work two nights a week as a waitress, just to get out and be around people...

Manhattan Mama said...

I completely relate. Every Sunday The Prince plays soccer with his team. The time to get to the field plus playing time, plus chit-chat time usually runs about 5 hours. Do I get comparable weekend solo time? Nope. When I even say something he'll retort: "Hey, but I'm exercising. Are you going to spend 5 hours exercising?" Damn right yes. This Saturday I'm spending 5 hours exercising my right to sit in a cafe and finish my book!

cubmommy said...

I can relate. I feel like that sometimes about Hubby that I have to ask permission to do something. He actually encourages me to get by myself but I feel like I have to ask. I don't know why I do that I have every right to go out by myself. Weird how we do that.

Lauren said...

I guess we just get in the habit of being primary caretaker. We label ourselves, basically. Let's all agree to stop doing this. My husband used to ask me "When will you be back?" and I would try to be as optimistic as possible and then rush around and not even enjoy the outing. Now I say "Gee, I don't know!" in an innocent voice.

But to tell you the truth, since my kids are in school a fair amount, the dynamic is much more equal. This too shall pass.

Nikkie said...

I totally relate to the asking thing too, and it drives me up a freaking wall. What pisses me off the most is on weekends when he hears the baby over the monitor instead of getting up to take care of it, he'll sit there and act annoyed until I get up. I've said to him on more then one occasion that he could get his bleeping butt out of bed once in a while since he gets to sleep in.

Sorry for the rant, its a hot button issue in this house!

"Grandi" said...

Hi "Sugar" - You don't know me, but I found your link on "Her Majesty's Throne"! It's been a long time since I was a SAHM, and I remember those wall-climbing days!! We had been married for 6 years before Computer Guy came along and I went from career-gal to super-mom in 1 month! We did the stressed looks thing for a while, but that got real old. One day when we were having fun together with CG I told him how I appreciated the way he was with him and that I needed to have a little "me" time. He was a little puzzled, but I went on and told him that I loved being a "stay-at-home", but sometimes I just need "time off" to walk the mall or have coffee with a girlfriend! He thought about it and we decided on an approximate time when I knew CG wasn't usually fussy and off I went! It was a little hard in the beginning, but the rewards were grand! He got a lot closer as a daddy, and I had some much needed me time! Oh - and I didn't correct anything he had done while I was away either - I just praised his efforts and he improved his daddy skills quickly! Hang in there and look for the joy - CG is now grown, married and lives 100 miles away! And it seems like it happend over night!!

Amber said...


I like your 'I wants' and I keep meaning to come back and do some. I hear where you're coming from. Thankfully my dh is pretty good about me having me time (and I've gotten better about taking it). We go through phases (everyone does that's human) where I feel stressed like 'all is not equal' but if I vocalize it then we work it out. Unfortunately I'm not always so good at that. :P

The 'I'm babysitting' is a huge pet peeve of mine though. It's not babysitting- it's parenting. Babysitting imply's that it's not your responsibility!

I want:
-a really good massage (from a professional)
-a weekend away with just myself
-a weekend away with my dh
-someone to organize my office
-my kitchen floor replaced
-an mp3 player

Mommygoth said...

Oh, this sounds pretty familiar indeed. Here's the thing - you both work all day, so when he gets home it really should be half and half, shouldn't it? It just doesn't work that way - D is the same way, which is hilarious since we BOTH work and I make more money! Some of it, I think, is just conditioning and history. Some of it is that we let it happen. But you're definitely not alone, girlie.