Ex­hausted mother de­serves hus­band’s sup­port

The Chatham Daily News - - NEWS - AMY DICK­IN­SON ASK AMY Email: askamy@tri­bune.com Twit­ter: @ask­ingamy

Dear Amy: I am a mar­ried mother of a 2-year-old and a 5-month-old baby. My hus­band and I are both pro­fes­sion­als, and I am cur­rently on parental leave. My hus­band’s is the “pri­mary” ca­reer in the house, and he earns a lot more than I do.

I am happy tak­ing care of my lit­tle ones, but I am still get­ting up three or four times a night with the baby and get­ting pro­gres­sively more tired. Lately I have started snapping and lash­ing out at my hus­band. I feel ter­ri­ble about it later.

I have al­ways done ev­ery­thing in the re­la­tion­ship — shop­ping, wash­ing, cook­ing, clean­ing, fi­nan­cials, so­cial ac­tiv­i­ties, etc. — and con­tinue to do so. He isn’t great at tak­ing care of him­self. He also of­ten wakes up the chil­dren when he gets home late from work, which greatly up­sets me.

I feel as though this is my “job” (as he is the bread­win­ner), and that I should be able to han­dle it. If he could even just tidy up af­ter him­self, it would make my life eas­ier.

He prom­ises to do more, but then doesn’t. If I get an­gry, he im­me­di­ately checks out or acts as though I have be­haved badly. I have no per­spec­tive on whether I am ask­ing too much. — TIRED WIFE

Dear Tired: It is a mea­sure of your ex­treme fa­tigue that you don’t seem to have a per­spec­tive on your own feel­ings or re­ac­tions to this ex­treme chal­lenge. It is not your “job” to ex­haust your­self tak­ing care of two chil­dren, as well as an­other able-bod­ied adult.

Par­ent­ing is a part­ner­ship, no matter who is the pri­mary bread­win­ner. With two young chil­dren, your hus­band needs to up his game. His be­hav­ior and re­ac­tion to you is not kind, lov­ing or help­ful.

If he can’t be more help­ful and sup­port­ive ( be­cause of his pro­fes­sional work hours) or won’t par­tic­i­pate (be­cause of his bull­head­ed­ness), this will be a lonely and very chal­leng­ing time for you. Yes, he should at the very least tidy up af­ter him­self and act like an adult, ver­sus your third child.

He is go­ing to have to dial in to your fam­ily in prac­ti­cal ways, so that your fam­ily can start to thrive.

You need prac­ti­cal help and emo­tional sup­port. Turn over jobs he can do (bill pay­ing and laun­dry, for in­stance). If hired house­hold help would ease things for you, then please — get it.

He has the op­por­tu­nity to be a hero. He is re­fus­ing this op­por­tu­nity, and is pun­ish­ing you for your very rea­son­able ex­pec­ta­tion.

For a schol­arly and eye-open­ing per­spec­tive on the chal­lenge you are fac­ing, you and your hus­band should read The Sec­ond Shift: Work­ing Fam­i­lies and the Revo­lu­tion at Home, by Ar­lie Hochschild and Anne Machung (2012, Pen­guin).

Dear Amy: I work half time, and share a job with my co-worker, “Terry.”

We both have the same po­si­tion.

I came to work one day and my su­per­vi­sor said that since Terry and I were half-timers, we would have to share one desk. My pre­vi­ous desk had been turned into a work area with boxes and other mail­ing ma­te­ri­als.

One day when I was sched­uled, Terry was al­ready there, say­ing she came in by mis­take!

It was agreed that Terry would work un­til noon and I would come back into work then and work the rest of the day.

A cou­ple of hours later the su­per­vi­sor called and said not to come in as planned.

When the su­per­vi­sor oc­ca­sion­ally wants us to both be there, even though it is re­ally my sched­uled day, I am rel­e­gated to my old cramped cu­bi­cle.

This has been very in­equitable, dis­cour­ag­ing and up­set­ting.

I am con­sid­er­ing ask­ing for a trans­fer to an­other depart­ment or leav­ing. What are your thoughts?


Dear Frus­trated: Be­fore trans­fer­ring, you should prac­tice be­ing more proac­tive and as­sertive con­cern­ing your sched­ule and work en­vi­ron­ment. It is com­pletely rea­son­able for you to want clar­ity. You should sched­ule a meet­ing with your su­per­vi­sor and re­view con­cerns you have re­gard­ing con­fu­sion over your sched­ule. There are var­i­ous on­line tools and apps that can as­sist in work­place sched­ul­ing.

You and your co-worker should mu­tu­ally agree that the per­son of­fi­cially on the sched­ule gets the desk. Your co-worker has no in­cen­tive to do this with­out you tak­ing the ini­tia­tive.

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