Saturday, April 16, 2011

50/50: A Mother's Role?

One Sunday morning while riding in the car on the way to church with our visiting Grandmas, my husband asks me if I brought something of one of the boys.  I hadn't.  I left it home.  Was I supposed to bring it?  Apparently, I was.  He had asked me to get it before we left.  Really?  I didn't hear it. 

"Amongst the other five things I was doing this morning?" I responded to his question, sarcasm dripping through my words.  My bad.  Apparently.  I wanted him to know that I didn't purposely not hear him and I had other things that I was focused on like getting all three boys dressed and fed and ready to go within a 45 minute time period.

It was then I heard one Grandma mutter under her breath, "You're a mother."  

Oh.  Okay.   I don't think she realized I heard her but the message was clear.  I am a mother and I am supposed to be doing the multiple things at once and remembering the extra requests from the husband during those crazy moments.    

I was stung.  So I'm supposed to just bite the bullet and take the strife of kid responsibility on my own?  

I bristled.  No, the husband is in it with me.  Raising and taking care of these children are both our responsibilities - equally.  50/50.  Or 100/100, I'd like to think because I believe we should put our whole hearts into raising our bambinos.   Her remark implied that me, as a mother, should expect to take the brunt of child-rearing and be happy about it while for my husband, it is not expected.  

Of course, she comes from a time when that was the case.  The father was the provider and often, playmate, for the kids while the mother was the main one who took care of the kids, the home and all the details that come with it.  

But this is today, right? Isn't it different?   No animosity against the Grandma.  I was just shocked at her response.   The response that now makes me wonder about my role as a mother.    

Am I skewered in my thinking?  Maybe I am supposed to take on 90% of the responsibility when it comes to the kids, and not expect my other half to take on the same - to share with me equally in the duties.   I don't mind doing most of the work if the situation calls for it but I do expect the husband to do the same.  I do expect him to help me with the "motherhood" duties: changing diapers, dressing the kids, making them meals, etc.  I don't just expect him to come home and settle in his big easy chair and watch t.v. while I make the dinner and keep after the kids. 

This is 50/50. 

Luckily I have an amazing husband who actually thinks this way and steps up to help me.  I am blessed that it is 50/50 (100/100) in our household, with each of us picking up more responsibility when needed.  Even that question that morning from him came more from a  -- "you didn't hear my request?" place than from a "woman, you should've heard me and done what I said" kind of place. 

But maybe I'm putting undue pressure and expectation on him as a father?  

I wonder.  Am I getting it wrong?

Honestly, what do you think?  What is parenting like in your household?  Is it 50-50 (100-100), more on your end or less?  How much responsibility is a mother or father expected to take on?  Please feel free to share as I would love to hear your take on it.

Disclaimer: There aren't any bad feeling towards the Grandmas by yours truly.  I love them dearly and truly with my entire heart and soul.  Big, huge kisses to them (if they should happen to read this).  


  1. I would like our house to be how you described. A partnership, both people picking up the slack where needed. Both committed to raising their children and being parents who are present. This balance is something that my husband and I struggle with though, he sees SAHM as a job and as far as he is concerned the fact that my "job" has 24-7 hours is not his problem. He has been getting better the last year (five years after having our first kid) but I will point out that I can't remember the last time he watched the kids while I got ready for us to go out as a family and I also cannot remember the last time he had to get ready while worrying about the kids. This is definitely a work in progress in our household!

  2. Great post. I think about this a lot. I stay home (I'm a lawyer during naptime and after bed), and my husband works very long hours. Because of that, I do more than 50% of the childcare. But he does more than 50% of the housework and cooking. We're both doing our best for our family. It's just not exactly how I envisioned it before the boy arrived.

    I feel weird writing this. I'm a card-carrying NOW member and Democrat. :)

  3. *sigh*

    This is what I've learned in 17 years of marriage:

    Choose your battles wisely. I used to think that it had to be 50/50...but then I realized that I can do 50/50 better than my husband can, with much less effort. And that for him to meet 50/50 it was taking all his mental energy, I just couldn't do it to him.

    Some things are easier for me, and taking care of the kids is one thing I excel at with little effort. Without any second thoughts.

    Not so for my husband. It isn't second nature to him. It takes a lot of effort on his part. My 50/50 is a walk in the park, when it's his 50/50 it takes all his energy and planning and concentration. Hard work for him.

    I do it better.

    In the sake of marital bliss and a happy home, I am willing to do it beyond 50/50.

    As the expression goes, "happiness is when you both feel like you're getting the better end of the deal." My husband feels he is getting the better end of the deal, which makes him love on me and be grateful.

    So, I'm willing to let go of the 50/50. That's my choice for choosing your battles wisely.

    Took a lot of self talk to get me to this point. Truly. It wasn't a natural decision.

  4. I laughed out loud as I read this. Not because I am laughing at you - because it's so true. OH SO TRUE. When my son had a speech delay - my mother in law blamed me and said it was because I didn't read to him enough (I read to him ALL THE TIME). So frustrating.
    Sometimes I wonder if grandmas like to think back and recall motherhood as an effortless stroll through the park...which leads to judgmental comments. Am I wrong? Maybe. It just feels that way sometimes.

  5. I love this post. I've been a mommy for a whopping six weeks now, and the pressure to be the perfect mother overwhelms me. Hubs will come home and innocently ask if I was able to drop of the dry cleaning, and I burst into tears. I should have gotten it done, right? After all, it's just one tiny baby. But then I replay the day in my head, and remember I didn't have time to even brush my teeth until noon. Thank you for this reality check and the reminder to cut myself some slack. (I won't always be new at this, I won't always be new at this, I won't always be new at this ... )

  6. Ideally it would be 50/50, but my husband isn't good at all that multi-tasking and remembering things. I make sure the household runs smoothly, but he does his part too. He's much better as disciplining the children than I am.

  7. Thanks for visiting for PYHO!

    We are probably not 50/50. I would say I do more of the baby related items. But he certainly pulls his weight. I breastfeed, so I'm the one feeding, getting up in the night, and washing bottles. I've done all the baby laundry so far as well. But he's usually the one emptying the diaper genie, giving baths, and cutting nails. We both play, both cuddle, both bottle feed, both burp, both change diapers and clothes, and both help in other areas whenever needed. So while we may or may not be exactly 50/50, I do feel we both give it our 100%.

  8. Reality? Ok, here it goes...from experience.

    On the big things (i.e. morality, values, etc)it should be 50/50.

    On the everyday life things, it will probably break down like this:

    If you both work, it will probably be like 65/35 (with you at 65)

    If he works, it will probably be 90/10.

    If just you work, it will probably be 50/50.

    But as your kids get older, the ratio changes and slowly things will also shift to them, this helps them grow.

    I hope this makes sense!!


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