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November 11, 2008

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Marie

Amanda,

Nobody is saying that your children will have only one choice, just like you didn't only have one choice growing up. However, you seem to have concluded that women who stay at home to raise a family are somehow relinquished to looking 100% of that work with nothing but a smile on their face. Yes, it is a luxury that you are able to stay at home with your kids, but does that warrant the lack of respect shown by your husband on what you bring to the table. I would love to go to work everyday and just come home and not have to pick up after myself or clean the dishes I used, etc. It sounds like you are a wife and maid.

The point some of us are trying to state is that just as your mom didn't say that women were responsible for looking after the house you seem to think that since her marriage has been happy/good/long that you need to just bite your lip and start playing the good homemaker part.

Why should you have to pick up your husband's socks and throw away his used paper towels? It is disrespectful to you doesn't set a good example. Why don't you derserve some alone time? Book yourself a trip and let your husband look after the kids for a long weekend...without the help of his mother.

Marie

Amanda,

Nobody is saying that your children will have only one choice, just like you didn't only have one choice growing up. However, you seem to have concluded that women who stay at home to raise a family are somehow relinquished to looking 100% of that work with nothing but a smile on their face. Yes, it is a luxury that you are able to stay at home with your kids, but does that warrant the lack of respect shown by your husband on what you bring to the table. I would love to go to work everyday and just come home and not have to pick up after myself or clean the dishes I used, etc. It sounds like you are a wife and maid.

The point some of us are trying to state is that just as your mom didn't say that women were responsible for looking after the house you seem to think that since her marriage has been happy/good/long that you need to just bite your lip and start playing the good homemaker part.

Why should you have to pick up your husband's socks and throw away his used paper towels? It is disrespectful to you doesn't set a good example. What if your kids started to do the same because Daddy does it?

Sam

You've totally touched a nerve with so many of us who stay home and have many responsibilities (no matter how much less or more - it's all our choice, in the long run). I always think so much of you because you juggle a lot and I know how much you enjoy your home after waiting so many years! (I struggle to keep our little apartment clean, but that's just pure laziness on my part! Not to mention being slovenly myself. That said, I don't look forward to the day I have to worry about a house!) I think what is bothering me (for YOU) is the fact that you and Dave and the kiddos are a family. Now, how you agree to run that family is up to the adults. But it takes everyone to make a family work and that needs to be addressed - you want everyone to work together, it shouldn't all fall on you (mama and wife) simply because it's your role. And if it does all fall to you, because of your agreement, your work and role should be respected. It is work, after all, and not all fun and games. It's okay if your work is enjoyable some of the time - and if Dave is truly that stressed out, maybe he should look at adjusting what he can workwise, whatever that could mean. He should be able to enjoy his work, too. I feel sure you do as much as possible to ease his burden and as a loving partner, the same should be extended to you, whenever possible.

(I'm glad he apologized.)

Shash

I was going to write about this, and use the EXACT SAME TITLE but in regards to men (actually husbands) and laundry once they get married.

I still might, but now I'll have to come up with a new title. It worked better in your post anyway!!!

I hear what you are saying though, totally!!! TOTALLY AGREE!!!

Shash

alison

Goodness. I think you were just trying to say that you do a lot, and a little appreciation every now and then would be welcome? I 100% agree with you. Just because Dave works outside the home and makes a good living, doesn't mean you're having fun at home all day. Staying home with the kids is hard work and like somebody above mentioned, there is never an end to a mother's duties. We are constantly thinking about what needs to be done next and when we are given a "break" without the kids, we feel guilty because we aren't with them. Mothergoosemouse wrote a post a couple days ago about moms vs. dads that I think you'll agree with (if you haven't already seen it).

Sheryl

Sheesh, these comments! Apparently you've touched a nerve here. Anyway, I just wanted to say that I'm in EXACTLY the same boat. Aaron does zero, nada, zilch. And he's a slob like Dave. He is a good dad and spends time with the kids, occasionally he'll do the dishes, or put the kids to bed, or do a load of laundry, but that's only once in a blue moon.

We've been together 20 years, and guess what? HE'S NOT GOING TO CHANGE! Now I can be resentful about that (which I am sometimes) I can bitch about that (which I sometimes do) but I'm happiest when I just accept it. Yes I bare 99.999% of the responsibilities for the kids and house, but I do have a lot of free time, (your load will get easier when both kids are in school), and I'm very fortunate blah blah.

That's in the place I am today, but I TOTALLY FEEL YOU. Being a 50s housewife when things are supposed to be 50-50 sucks sometimes.

I really feel much better knowing that you're in the same boat, because sometimes I feel like I'm the only one, and everyone else's husband pitches in a lot more, so we can comfort each other.

michelle b

My goodness, I can't believe some of these comments. I read this post and all I heard was a basically happy woman venting a little bit after a busy day. We all need a little place to vent. I am glad that you have this space to do it.
Michelle

Emily

I know you've got a thick skin, Amanda, so I'm not too worried that you're letting all the negativity get to you.

I actually laughed at the comment from whoever said you were "engaged with your commenters" more than your children. I admire you a lot for your creativity and the effort you make with your kids. It seems like you're always coming up with something new and educational for them to do, and I wanted to make sure you knew that someone noticed that. I think you're doing a terrific job raising those kids and exposing them to new activities, people and opportunities. And I think you have a right to vent about your own personal situation on your own personal blog without people getting all huffy about it.

(Huffy! I love the word huffy.)

1hot&tiredmama

I just wanted to say that I totally get it. I (jokingly) tell my husband that i need a wife and a secretary. He has both -- why shouldn't I? Being a stay-at-home wife/mom is hard work with very few pats on the back.

That said -- I totally understand about sucking it up. When I'm frustrated with all I do at home with little-to-no help, I remind myself that my husband is also up to his ears in work. I deal with four children daily -- he deals with 35 employees. We are both just tired and overwhelmed, but I wouldn't want his job any day of the week. At least I get rewarded with sticky kisses and finger paintings! I wouldn't trade it for anything and I know you wouldn't either.

Ali

Read this: http://mothergoosemouse.com/2008/11/09/the-irreplaceable-inimitable-mother/

Salome Ellen

On a different note -- you can get just plain ground chili peppers here(http://www.penzeys.com/cgi-bin/penzeys/shophome.html) and mix your own chili powder with no cumin.

JayhawkMom

My husband and I had this discussion just last week. I think you are suffering, like I was, from a lack of appreciation more than anything else. Like you, I am the one who does pretty much everything (he will do dishes, but that's pretty much it). I work outside the home, and my husband works in professional sports, so nine months out of the year, he's either gone on the road for weeks at a time or gets home at midnight. My problem with him was that he just assumes that it will all be taken care of: food will magically come from the grocery store to the fridge to his plate; clean socks magically arrive in his drawer; the baby magically bathes himself. Etc., etc., etc. I pointed out that if I decided to run off to Brazil tomorrow, he'd have to figure all this out, so at the very least I needed some recognition and appreciation for my efforts. I also needed his help. And now he pitches in more (so far). Maybe try the appreciation angle with Dave? Might help.

Christa (Amanda's friend from Germany)

I guess I somehow wanted to write about my observations rather than about my emotions and thoughts, but I guess we all end up thinking about our own life. It is funny. My parents shared responsibility for work and home pretty equally and my husband and I do the same. Things in life do repeat in the next generation. I am pretty sure it would look different in my own family if my parents had been different. On the other hand: My in-laws (unfortunately both already deceased) had a VERY, VERY traditional work division. But my husband did not adopt that at all. I am pretty sure if Michael had not said we could share the responsibilities we would not yet have our wonderful kids (or maybe, worse, not ever had any). Because I, too, have a pretty well-paid job I (most of the time) love.
But also here in Germany we are the absolute exception. The main reason for that, in my opinion, is, that we both sacrificed a LOT. ON THE JOB SECTION. That for us was an easy choice to make because we LOVE how our family life is going. And I think I can talk for both ourselves. I perceive Michael's job to be way more stressful (my job changed because there were two times when I stayed at home after the two births - before I led a group of 18 people in customer service, now I work in projects three days a week), but he kept his work group he led (in information technology) and now basically squeezed 100% of his job into the 60% (now increased to 75%) he works, speaking in hours. That is sometimes painful. Because of that condition I sometimes offer him to do more in our household (you might remember, he does the whole clothes thing, and I have never had my shirts as prettily ironed when I did it myself), but he plainly refuses, even when I try to push the issue. That is probably because he is so happy that I do the cleaning which he doesn't really like and thinks of as the harder part (while it's vice versa for me!). We are probably very lucky that we complement each other so well!
On "time alone", I most of the time consider my work "time alone" - probably because it is not too stressful. But, on the other hand, if I wanted more time on my own, I could probably ask our daycare mom to take Matthias for a couple of hours more and have some, paid by "me" - although for us that is never "mine" and "yours" - just nevertheless makes a difference if you have your own hard-earned money.
Sometimes I don't understand my fellow women (read "stay-at-home-mums") who hire cleaning ladies etc. to keep the household running.
But reading your post I do actually get there. It is not only the sheer time-consuming burden of housework alone that gets to you. It is (and I think you wrote about that) the RESPONSIBILITY. Taking a real-life responsibility (and I am talking house, husband, kids, maybe even (old) parents) is NO JOKE. And, in my opinion, the worst part of staying at home as a mum is that sometimes that responsibility just overwhelms you. For some people having a responsibility in their jobs equals that one. I say NO. I always ask myself if my job would just go away, would I lose the most important part of my life? Easy question, isn't it? OF COURSE NOT! On the other hand, if I did not have my husband and my kids? OH MY GOD.Next question: Is a job with big (mostly MONETARY) responsibilities overwhelming? Another easy question for me. It should not be (at least in the western hemisphere! I am not talking Japan!). If it were, there would have been thousands of investment bankers jumping from high towers in the last couple of months. Don't you think?
So, coming to my point, I guess it is not the socks on the sofa (and that is something even my dear husband does, once in a while :-) which happens, I could not more agree with you, just thoughtless, NOT out of disrespect - I get all worked up about it once in a while too and then decide that IT IS JUST NOT WORTH THE BREATH!!!
It could just be that you sometimes feel a little alone with the responsibility (although I can already hear a mighty rebuke that of course Dave feels responsible - of course he does, but if you cant' see it, sometimes you don't believe it, right?).
What works for me is that being alone with only one kid helps already mightily. And it has not been a long time since regular preschool for Alex started again. I had a similar change in August when Fabian started going to Kindergarten whole days. I perceive a significant decrease in my stress level at home! That is because you more often get to think a thought through completely (which I only used to do at work before!) and actually plan things that could be fun for YOURSELF. And, putting myself in your shoes, you are probably just recovering from your sleep-deprived two first years with Genoa! Do not forget that and do not be so hard on yourself. Oh, and by the way, I don't mean to sound stupid, but have you thought about the hormone question? I am getting sidetracked here, but weaning does make you go through that too...Anyway: Women tend to always be too hard on themselves. Men don't - in my view, at least not as much. So they don't see any harm to go fishing while the dishwasher is still full...If we (as women) got there sometimes we'd be much less stressed out.
Jeez, now THAT was work :-))

Alias Mother

I think all the thoughts I had while reading this (example for children, respect, etc.) are pretty much covered here, but I did want to further emphasize one point that I think is the most important. Yes, you have a job and Dave has a job and you both need to do your jobs, but I really don't get a sense that the two of you are on the same team. It's like in football (dear god, I'm using a sports analogy. I'm sorry): there's an offense and a defense, and each is responsible for a specific task. But if a defensive lineman picks up a fumble, it's not like he just stands there with the ball because his job is to block and not to score points. That big ol' guy will lumber as far as he can because his job is to win for the TEAM. (Again, I'm really, really sorry for the sports analogy. But you see what I'm saying, yes?)

Perhaps you two need to sit down when you are both feeling nonstressed and talk about what you need to do to work better as a team. You can try to "shut up and be happy" but you are likely to just end up right back in that angry place again.

Also? Dave needs a new job. Life is too short, man. Too. Short.

Nancy R

I read this yesterday and mostly came away thinking that regardless of your division of labor, Dave's reply to you was rude and disrespectful.

But I didn't want my comment to seem like I was piling on...

However, today I had to come back to tell you that they talked about this very thing on The Today Show! It's probably on their website.

Jeannette

This blog entry and comments centre (or center, for y'all south of the border from us up north here) around the notion of disrespect, and it is quite ironic that many of the comments that have been made are disrespectful to Amanda. And doubly ironic that the comments are, for the most part, made by women. Whether you have ten kids or two, whether you work at a job outside the home or are a stay at home mom, and whether your household income is 250 K or 25 K, it's been statistically proven time and again that women bear the brunt when it comes to running a household. And those same women would not be fully functioning humans if they did not bitch about it every so often. So let her bitch, on her very own personal blog that you are in no way forced to read...must run and pick up underwear and socks up off the family room floor, because I've learned, like Amanda, to let the small stuff go. It's just not worth fighting over!

kheatherg

Whew. I read all those comments.

I'm on both sides of the fence. I do all that Amanda does multiplied by 4. I have 4 children with 4 different sports activities, 2 in orthodontics (Monthly appts.) laundry, dinners, school meetings, volunteering to bring this or that, school trips, house cleaning, and even picking up my hubs crap that can seem to make it the trash can, laundry basket or shoe closet.

I balance that with a full time job outside of the house.

So some days i read and think, "yadda-yadda-whine-whine", and on other days i read and think "What an awesome way to view that situation or scenario" (recipes are a bonus-LOL) (I also think this way of my RL friends)

Either way, i enjoy the diversity of this blog. I never agree with a blogger 100% on everything they do and say, but i still like to listen.

What works for one may not work for another.

And Dave could have had an "off" day to make that magazine sarcastic remark. If i were thrown over the bridge for every smart ass remark i've made to my husband when it wasnt appropriate,I'd have to walk around with arm floats strapped to my ass.

Garnigal

It's interesting that you mention that your family history also includes a very traditional breakdown of duties.

My parents just passed their 38th wedding anniversary, and my paternal grandparents were together 61 years before grandpa passed away.

Both of those women worked outside the home. Both of those men worked inside the home (they were farmers, so we'll count the 700 acres we own as inside the home) Both of those men took responsiblity for feeding the kids (and in my grandparents case, grandkids), doing the cleaning and since grandma couldn't sew to save the hole in the ozone layer, Gramps did all the mending. The division of labour was always fairly equitable, and I always saw the men in our family spending time with the kids, and spending time cleaning up.

That's not to say they didn't contribute a lot of the mess. There's this magic thing that men don't see the mess and don't realize they've created the mess until you open their eyes to it. :)

I freely admit that seeing the men in my life as caregivers and having equal responsibility for the state of the home gives me an advantage. I got lucky in that I found a guy whose parents and grandparents had some of the same expectations (my father-in-law can cook for himself, but doesn't often have to).

I wonder how many generations it'll take before it really and truly sinks in?

kristine

i can't believe how hard everyone came down on you. From what I have read yes, you do work harder than most stay @ home moms I know. Most of what I know, feed their kids tons of fast food, have someone clean their house. Or have a family member or a nanny watch their kids so they can go out to the gym, get their nail done weekly.
Needless to say, I'm not one of those either. my husband works really hard so i can stay home. A few days ago I received one of those soc. security statements in the mail. After looking @ how much $$ my spouse & child would receive monthly. I told my husband he would be fine. Enough for my daughter t go to pre-k full time & have ext. care till he got off work. Enough for a weekly cleaning lady.
He said, that yes it was true. But the most important part was something $$ can't buy. The security of me being w/ our daughter, the one on one care she recieves, love. And knowing that she is being influenced by morals & values that I have.
And by the way the idea that Dave is still paying on college loans , for a education that you are not using by, Kristy.
The education can be seen as a INVESTMENT . Giving you are our family a piece of mind that if ever need , you can provide for your family. Even if it's by choice in later years. Or as a need in a emergency. Not all moms have that option.

kalisah

Well, I work fulltime outside the house and am STILL expected to do all the cleaning & laundry simply by virtue of being the only one in the house with ovaries.

You can say "leave the socks on the floor" but eventually you have to make the choice between living in filth and just doing it your own damn self.

OMSH

I haven't read the comments - I think, from the skim, it might be better if I don't.

I absolutely LOVE what I do. I work from home full-time designing websites and writing for various online sites. I also homeschool full-time. IT IS A LOT to do.

It stresses me - sometimes.

It is perfect - other times.

Jeff DOES help out, but our division of tasks is very 1950s. I do the house and everything in it. He does the lawn, garage, and cars.

I LIKE IT THAT WAY.
Very much.

I don't even have to fill my own gas tank, check my oil, or wash my car and I LOVE THAT.

If we didn't need the extra money, I'd stop designing sites and just do writing gigs here and there.

But I get ya - there are some days where I get frustrated about things that will NEVER change, and if I think about it, I don't want them to change.

Great post Amanda...I'm with you.

Amanda

Yikes! It's so interesting to me that people are so judge-y regarding the choices we all have the freedom to make about our own lives. Plus, this is AMANDA's blog...she can write about whatever she wants!

My choice? I work outside the home because the 9 months I was a SAHM I hated how I felt about myself. We have the resources that would allow me to stay at home (or for my husband to stay at home). However, every Sunday night after a long weekend with the kids, I look forward to my alone time Monday-Friday while I'm working. I'm MUCH happier now.

Crystal

I think enough is as good as a feast. We each have to fine tune that ever-changing measure to find our own "enough." I don't get enough... I refuse to use the word help. I don't want favors, I want the other people living with me to understand that this is their house too and we don't have a maid and everybody here has responsibilities. My primary job is to raise the children, my secondary job is to develop my marketable skills so that I can bring in an income when the children are less in need of my time and energy. The house is no more my responsibility than it is anyone else's so I don't want help, I want everybody else to do their fair share. I accept that my husband who works outside of the home will do less housework in a given day than myself staying home and that my eight-year-old is able to do more than my six-year-old. We should each give as we are able, not as the others are able. Fine. But ain't no way, no how that this is all mine and I'd rather be a greeter at wal-mart than let my stay-at-home status make it all mine. And I would rather be divorced or widowed than continue a marriage to somebody who won't do a fair share of the housework. I am fighting tooth and nail for a better life than the 1950s has to offer. My hat's off to you if you can make this your "enough." I have too many things I want out of life beyond my home and hearth. This is a fight worth fighting for me. My husband will learn to share the housework or he will learn to live alone. Period.

Ellie

This is one of the surprisingly many times I'm so relieved to be divorced.

Crystal

OMG! You are writing my life - lawyer husband, karate kid, a long family line of successful marriages, SAHM loving my stay-at-home-life but wishing I had a bit more help. My husband readily admits he would never want my "job" but then promptly forgets why. I complain every once in awhile, but my husband has had to learn to cope with a messier-than-liked house and occasional later-than-preferred nutritionally-challenged dinners. Keeping our respect for each other's jobs might be difficult at times, but keeping the big picture in view is key - a happy family with a home (albeit messy) full of love and respect...and trying to keep the occasional resentment at bay.

Btw, having a blog and writing about your personal life can invite criticism (much of it uncalled for), and I appreciate your willingness to be open and honest about aspects of your life with which, in truth, we all can identify. Great post!

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