At Least We Both Agree Keeping Them Alive Is Important
Because it is a Monday and it is not raining, I have exactly 90 minutes between the moment E walks in the door and the moment he leaves again for hockey practice. 90 glorious free minutes during which I can take a shower unassisted by a toddler (“Mama, BOOBS!”) or fold laundry using both arms or sweep the front porch without anyone running through the piles of dirt and tracking it straight into the house. 90 precious minutes to fit in all the chores and errands that are a struggle to do with two kids but should really be done sooner rather than later.
“I’m just going to run to the post office”, I said to E as I grabbed my keys. “Caroline just woke up so she probably needs a diaper [I throw a diaper and a clean outfit in his direction]. You don’t have to get her dressed though, if you want to give her some of this watermelon I cut up she’ll get all messy anyway. Just put her in the high chair. And there are apples in the bowl if you want to put some in her meshie, although it might be in the dishwasher but those dishes are clean so you could get it out.”
E looks up from the remote. “How long are you going to be GONE?”
And that, right there, is the cause of 99% of our fights. I think taking care of the babies is a full time, active job that involves fruits and vegetables and songs and flashcards and cute outfits and playgroups and tummy time. E thinks it involves making sure everyone is breathing and relatively non-poop encrusted.
In the end, we are both right. There are plenty of parenting moments that are nothing more than sitting on the floor with the kids, playing “how big is the baby?” or “where’s your belly button?” or “how hard can you whack daddy in the nuts while trying to climb on him?” But as the primary childcare provider*, more of my time is spent feeding, changing, dressing, rocking, nursing, chasing, holding, and disciplining children. My default mode is to PROVIDE.
So when I hand over the parenting reins for a few minutes I expect my husband to stay just as busy. No, Caroline isn’t going to STARVE if he doesn’t give her some watermelon during the twelve minutes I’m gone. But I was the parent who was home while E went to the post office, those are all the things I would have been doing. I feel like shared parenting means sharing all of it – not just the interesting parts. On the balance sheet of taking care of kids, he doesn’t get to cross of “get hugs” and “read books” while I’m stuck with “offer the baby eleven different foods to throw on the floor” and “let the toddler spit out the apple skin he refuses to swallow for the umpteenth time into your hand.”
But my parenting advice never goes over well and the more times I suggest – Honey you should…Honey why don’t…Honey I think… – the more annoyed E gets and, ironically, the less likely he is to pitch in. Not because he is spiteful and mean, but because who wants to keep doing something you are told over and over you are not good at? (I mean BESIDES blogging, because obviously no one can stop me from sucking up more than my share of the interwebs. I’m in yur bandwidth, writtin down mah rambling thoughts!)
We need to find a compromise that DOESN’T involve either of us threatening to move to Australia.
*And hey, who wants to talk about how totally messed up it is that childcare costs a frickin ZILLION DOLLARS, but watching one’s own children doesn’t count as a job? Oh, you don’t have time to discuss one of the most written about parts of motherhood ever? How about just an Amen?