Dear Is This Normal,
My baby girl is sick. We haven’t slept in two nights, I can’t get my work done. I hate being a woman in this society it’s just not fair. It’s not fair for women to work the first year of a kids life. It’s a joke. Our country is a f***king joke. My husband goes to work all day with no guilt b/c he’s a man and nothing else is expected of him. Is it normal to feel this way?
Dear “Co” Parenting,
First, let’s just go ahead and get this out of the way mama: you are absolutely right.
What you’re feeling is just so totally normal and valid. It’s NOT fair how normal it is. Motherhood is a glorious, wondrous thing. But it’s also incredibly (wait, let me stress them some more, incredibly, incredibly, incredibly) hard. Mentally, physically, emotionally—it’s heavy. And one of the reasons it’s so heavy on our shoulders is because we’re carrying most of the weight.
Even though we also have jobs and lives and interests outside of motherhood, we’re somehow just supposed to magically balance everything flawlessly and without complaint. . . because as women, motherhood is OUR job, not our husbands’. Well, I don’t know about you, but I say: eff that!
Sure, we might have a biological advantage in some areas of parenting. We do all the heavy lifting – pregnancy, childbirth, postpartum recovery, breastfeeding. In fact, research shows that our actual brain changes to make us more suitable for this role, and those changes manifest in how we multitask, our ability to empathize, and how we regulate emotions and hormones. We are, quite literally, bearers of life. And with that distinguished title comes some massive effing responsibility. If you’re breastfeeding (even if we’re not) and your babe is sick and can’t go to daycare, who do you think will draw the proverbial short straw and have to call out of work to stay home? Moms. Why? Because we’re moms, and society has decided that only we can put out fires on the homestead. BUT, and here’s the real kicker: every single time a woman is called away from her role in the workforce to handle something related to her kids, she’s judged for it. Or dinged for it. Or outright punished for it. Moms are fired for rescheduling meetings when their child is sick, and demoted for taking their federally-protected pumping breaks at work. Astonishingly, two-thirds of breastfeeding discrimination lawsuits result in job loss … for the mom. Paid parental leave in this country is, at best, a joke (25% of new moms go back to work after 2 weeks because they literally can’t afford not to). The tide seems to be shifting, and many companies are increasing or extending benefits to their employees to make that transition a lot easier. But real policy change, real mindshifts, don’t happen overnight.
It’s absolutely a societal problem. But here’s the deal mama, fixing it starts in the home. While society may not expect more from him, you as his partner can and should. I’m a real big proponent of talking ish out, especially as it applies to creating an equitable and beneficial partnership at home. Maybe your circumstances are such that it can’t be 50/50, that’s fine! At the very least him understanding that the current set-up is not working for you is the first step in finding a scenario that works for you both. Splitting midnight baby duty down the middle, scheduling time for you to focus on your work, just stepping up in general at home to lighten your load – they’re baby steps, but with forward momentum.
Women are still handling the bulk of childcare, but the tides are changing because moms like you are stepping up. You’re saying: I may be a superhero, but I am not superhuman. We are making ourselves vulnerable. We’re saying: we need help. Trust the process mama. Open up to your partner. We’ll get through this together.
Putting the “Co” Back in Co-Parenting,
Is This Normal