Friday, April 15, 2011

Is This My Job?

I am going to go ahead and apologize for the disjointed nature of this post.  I have had this on me the whole time I have been constructing it and well, that makes thinking clearly really tough.

Alex and I had a bit of a disagreement last night.  I won't go into the details because I really don't think I'd be painting either of us in a very favorable light and I would like to maintain my status as the most awesome person you "know." 

The general idea of the disagreement was over asking for help, giving help, and the division of responsibilities.  I know, you have probably NEVER heard of a husband and wife fighting over this.  We are really ahead of our time.  Always on the edge of the next big thing. Brace yourself people, soon you will probably hear about all sorts of couples fighting over who does what in the house.  We might be booked for the Today Show next week.  Tuesday or Wednesday.

Alex kept referring to the things inside this house as my job.  Raising the kids is my job.  Cleaning and cooking are my jobs.  I have to say, I wanted my job to be to punch him in the face. 

But, did he have a point?

I think that what I do is fill a role in our life.  This can't be my job because a job implies pay, the ability to chose a different one, a seemingly temporary assignment.  I really don't remember filing my w-4 for wiping baby poop and I am pretty sure I can't just up and pick a different least not without someone wanting to make a made for TV movie out of it. 

Wait a second, did I just come up with a brilliant idea to make some money?  Must explore further....

I could pick a different role because I could go get a "job" and find childcare for the kids.  I could say that I am paid in giggles and tantrums and hugs and tears...and the long term reward of hopefully raising a really great person, but do you pay taxes on that?  Also, isn't it just a little dis-genuine to say that this is the same as getting paid in actual dollars which you could spend on things like a new pair of jeans?

I feel that we decided we wanted someone to be home with our children all the time and I fit that role best.  I feel that while I am here I prepare meals and keep the house clean-ish and the clothes washed-ish.  I take people to doctor's visits and lessons to make them into more well rounded little persons.  I take the dog to the vet because, well these things tend to fall within the hours of Alex's job and the dog likes me more, of course.
Is it unreasonable though to think that after Alex returns from his job, that he should have to help with mine?  I know all sorts of women reading this are screaming at that question being asked, and filled with frustration at me and my husband.  Calm down, we're just talking here...just talking.

My husband works hard.  He works REALLY hard.  He's that employee that goes above and beyond.  He feels like he is doing a horrible job and feels consumed with guilt if he gives less than all he has to do his best for his position.  I wish he worked for me.  He's amazing.

I work really hard.  REALLY hard.  I am a good mom.  I am a pretty darn good housekeeper and an above average cook.  I think my husband would agree.  I think he thinks I'm amazing.

He is also frustrating.  He leaves early, misses dinner with us 90% of the time and has his blackberry attached to his ear for a good portion of his time here.  He is difficult to pin down for me to be able to go do things.  He has trouble sleeping or even talking if there is something going on with work that is worrying him. These are not so fun.

I am also frustrating.  I complain a lot.  I have high expectations that probably won't ever be met.  I am on my computer a lot...a lot.  I am wimpy about lack of sleep and I like to spend money that we simply don't have.  These are not so fun. 

His invests a lot of himself in his work, but I think that is very typical of males and of women that love their job and feel passionately about it.  I don't think Alex has a passion for his job, but I do think he has a passion of providing for us.  He worries about paying the mortgage, the awesome minivan payment and his ability to give us things like a family vacation or a new couch someday.  A huge portion of his working so hard stems directing from loving us so much.

I invest all of myself in this house and out children.  I feel passionately about what I do because I made these people, I'm can't jack them would reflect poorly on me.  I don't think my role can be done half way for a "normal" Mom.  Sure, I can slack on the cooking and cleaning, but people need to be fed and pee needs to be wiped up.  Kids need to be disciplined, and loved.  Lots of time spent loving.

Crap, looks like we are even-Steven.  I thought for sure I would come out on top in the comparing and contrasting section of this post! 
So why is it so difficult to get him to change the sheets on our bed?  Or clean the dishes, which he normally does after dinner, if he's just too tired or doesn't feel in the mood?  I don't feel in the mood to make lunches or grocery shop....ever, but it's part of my role and I don't see an option since eating seems kind of important around here. 
Is it my job though to go to the grocery store?  Is it my job to change the sheets, not his?  If I need help with the laundry folding and he's watching TV and relaxing should he help me?

Is it any different if I spent 2 hours that day reading blogs?  What if I simply sat in a lawn chair and watched the kids run around the yard for 3.5 hours in the afternoon because I didn't feel like doing the laundry, I wanted to relax?  Should these things change the expectations I have for him that night when he comes home after working all day? 

I don't mind cooking.  I really don't want Alex to cook.  I like that he goes to work and brings in the bucks, not that I wouldn't like to bring in the bucks too, but this is sort of how I see us best situated right now.  I do hope that eventually changes and I can join the game again, but for now I don't see how we could make something different work.  Except for that made for TV movie about my double life of course.

I like that I can stay home with the kids and I don't want Alex to do it.  I think I'm better at it.  I'm not trying to insult Alex, I just am.  I'm also funnier, we all have our things.  He's really pretty to look at.

I think our argument stemmed from both of our desperate needs for a break.  We need to reconnect. We need to get away from these kids and we need to regroup as a team. We need a change of pace.  We need a winning lottery ticket.

(Ok, we don't need the lottery ticket.  But I bet it would at least change what we are disagreeing on for a while and we could probably go on a fancy vacation for the location of all our new fights.)

Thankfully my parents are coming to visit soon and that just makes everything better.  Everything.

He can call it my job if he wants to, it's really just semantics.  I am definitely, without question, responsible for all the child rearing, the cleaning, the cooking, etc, just like he is responsible for all the money making.  But, whether I ask him to help fold laundry or he asks me to help him work through an employee issue, we are a team. We each have specialities, but we should each ask for help when needed.  And we should get the help when we ask.

The moment we are fighting over things like folding laundry or who left the milk out (Alex) we both start losing.  The "who has it harder game" always results promptly in two losers.  It's a really crappy game. 

And my job is way more difficult than his job, Oprah says. 

PS  I didn't reveal the details of the fight because hopefully you can see just how ridiculous it was with all of my mentions of laundry and cooking. There was no bad guy, there is no weak woman.  There is no one to defend, no one to beat up.  We both sucked for a while and we are both back to freakin awesome.  Ok, freakin awesome-ish.


pezzoni1 said...

This is absolutely my opinion, and you have to do what is right for you.
For me, division of labor is one thing. He should not make more work for you (leaving clothes on the floor, missing the toilet, etc), but if his chores are going to work and all that entails, and your chores are the housekeeping/cooking/etc then it is between you two how much you help the other.
Child rearing is a whole other thing. He is Daddy. Mommy can not be Daddy, as amazing as she is. He has to connect with his kiddos, and not just in a throw-you-in-the-air-once-a-week kind of thing. This involves diaper changing, bath giving, playing, etc on a daily basis.
I "helped" my hubby along by assigning him bathtime - I told him it was bonding time, and he resisted at first. I kept emphasising it was important for him to interact with the kids so they wouldn't feel ignored. I also pointed out how little time he really has with them, and how it makes me feel bad for him. (That seemed to help the woe-is-me complex)
I'm not sure if I'm making sense or rambling nonsense, just know that I'm feeling you and I hope you guys are able to work it out.

Anonymous said...

It is your job but not your career

-dweej said...

Okay, this same crap goes on over here too and this is the way I see it (remember, I am insanely brilliant, so you might want to print this out):

1) Both of you work all day. Currently, it seems, only one of you works at night. To me, that is lame-tastic. If he is going to relax in the evening, so should you. If you are not, he should not.

2)Call it trite (go ahead and do it!), but money ain't gonna buy kids who remember him. So, providing for the family has to stop at being with his actual family.

That being said, we still have these "discussions" all the gotdang time and I'm like "Do you not remember my brilliant logic from last fracken time I told you what to think???"

Good luck, girl :)

Meagan said...

I feel your frustration - and I have been there.. Maybe, just mabye - SAHM isn't the role for you? You don't seem to relish it in your posts.. or maybe I am reading it wrong. But it feels like you think something is missing. I am a SAHM and I feel often that my husband could NOT possibly understand what I do. In fact, I leave him little post it's about how to feed the children should he be left alone (G0d Forbid). But I don't think that everyone is cut out to be a SAHM - maybe explore other options. You don't seem happy :(( And I don't gather that from just this post, but much more previous pots...

The Mommy Therapy said...

Lovin the comments here. Great points by all. Anonymous, good point about job, but not career. I think the whole point of me doing well is eventually having my kids leave me. Right?

Just to be clear, we usually don't have this type of issue. Alex is usually pretty darn helpful and I'm usually pretty darn sane...but we all go off course from time to time.

Life is good. Marriage is good. Kids are good. Husband is taking me away tomorrow for first night away from Stella. Did I say life is good?

Thanks for the comments everyone.

love it.

Carrie said...

hahaha I love your post! I feel the same way then I sit down and realize how hard my Hubby works for us! And how Hard I work for us too! I think that it would be great for us Home Mommies to be paid for all the work we do but we dont and all the work I put into my kids one day will all be worth it!

yippiemom said...

You just need to get a husband like mine and all of your problems would be solved (but you're like me and you'd just find new ones). You and Alex love each other and the kids and that is all that really matters.

p.s. I know I was trying to sound all wise and diplomatic but you're definitely right and he is WRONG!!!

FrouFrouBritches said...

Oh my gracious! We could be sisters! I, too, have a Hubby with an insane work ethic. UGH! Which, I have to admit, is an admirable trait. It might even be slightly worth it if they paid him even half way decent $$, but they don't. We're broker than broke. I hate his company. HATE THEM!

I, stay at home with four kids. Okay, technically, I only stay home with one, while the other three are at school, but I also work from home, when I have orders to fill and sometimes this means my house is a complete wreck. This is where we differ, I am NOT an above average housekeeper! In fact, we have a deal that if we do win the lottery, I get a maid! Of course, part of our problem is that we live in 1500 sq. ft with 6 people and we have way too much stuff!

Anyway, I'm with ya sister. Love your sarcasm, by the way. You're speaking my language!

Missy @ It's Almost Naptime said...

We had a huge blowup about this last summer. I can share some of my mind bending wisdom with you if you'd like. Okay I will.

1) Every time an evil devil on my shoulder says "Must be nice to just have clean underwear magically appear in your drawers" the good angel says, "About as nice as having money magically appear in your bank account." I had jobs, lots of jobs, before I landed this gig. And this one is better for a whole slew of reasons. I know you know the obvious ones, but my faves are: I make my own hours, I don't answer to anyone (I had some evil, evil, bosses in my day), I can do it in my jammies all day if I want to, and - and here is the clincher - I don't have to spend time with anyone I don't choose to spend time with (I had some evil, evil co-workers in my day.) As hard as this job is, and it is job, and btw it IS my career, it is so damn much better than the jobs I did that I got paid for.

2) My husband does baths and bed. Otherwise, he doesn't even see his kids. When they were all little, I was off the clock the minute he walked in the door. Now that they are older, not so much. I am only a fraction of the lunatic I used to be at 5pm. But some days, I still say, "I need to be alone" as soon as he comes in. Because he knows our kids, he gets it. And he knows our kids because he has spent maaaaaaany an entire Sat alone with them whilst Mommy was out gallivanting about town.

3) If it is inside the house, it falls under my jurisdiction unless I physically cannot do it. Except he does the dishes after dinner, because, well, because I am not super woman. I mean I am, but you know. That's pretty much all he does domestically except for being with the kids. I would much rather him go give baths than fold laundry, since he's gonna fold it all wrong anyway. He will clean up when I ask him to because he can tidy up the house in 15 min whereas it takes me all day. He puts his iPod on and gets busy.

4) The only thing you said that really bugged me was about him being glued to his blackberry when he is at home. I don't like that. IMO when he's off the clock, he needs to be off the clock. If he is a reader, see if he will read or listen to Andy Stanley's "Choosing to Cheat" - it is fantastic.

That's all I got.