When I was knocked up with our third child, I was especially attracted to articles and blog posts discussing pregnancy and morning sickness and astronomical weight gain and the absurdity of maternity wear and parenting newborns and coping with multiple children. The funny ones tended to grab my attention the fastest and hold it the longest (because if you can’t laugh your way through this sometimes nightmarish experience, you might as well drown yourself in tears), but as is the case even today, the serious ones draw me in and either leave me pondering the subject all serious-and-chin-scratchy-like or rocking in the fetal position in some corner somewhere.
Though very different in their approach to the same topics, there is one similarity I’ve noticed across many of both the humorous and for reals posts, and that is the mention of lazy, good-for-nothing, might-as-well-be-another-child-instead-of-a-domestic-companion husbands and partners.
Usually the article or post author will reference how difficult it is to cook and clean and do laundry for her husband and children whilst simultaneously breastfeeding the youngest and vomiting in the sink or will scoff at her partner’s clever tactics for avoiding diaper duty and other domestic chores. And while I rarely ever take the comical posts at face value in the same way I do the serious ones, very well aware myself that at the heart of every good story rests a writer’s authorial right to embellishment, I can’t help but wonder if these funny women, like seemingly so many of their serious counterparts, aren’t also dealing with the burdens of a lazy, childlike spouse.
They’ll joke or complain about their plight, following up their horror stories of having to cook a week’s worth of raw, stinky, corpse-like meats for dinner while battling hyperemesis gravidarum with statements like, “But, well, my husband and children have gotta eat, so I guess I’ll suck it up!” And all I can think is, Yeah, they do gotta eat, but whointhebloodyhell ever said you had to be the one and only person to make that happen for them? YOU’RE PRACTICALLY DYING, FOR FUCK’S SAKE. I think your husband can manage to slap a few PB and Js together or boil some noodles and pour in some sauce from a jar.
What is going on here? I mean, seriously, what in the hell is happening? Are husbands incapable of cooking and cleaning, especially when their wives are on their death beds from pregnancy-induced shitty life syndrome? Are they not able to get up in the middle of the night with a newborn and take care of the diaper changing and the rocking and the singing and the tucking in? Are they excused from such tasks because they head off to work every day (exactly as some of their wives do as well, by the way)?
No. The correct answer is no, they are not incapable or excused from any of it.
It takes two to tango, as the saying goes, and that baby, not to mention any other children a couple might have, didn’t immaculately conceive itself.
Running a household and rearing children is just as much a husband’s responsibility as it is a wife’s — I don’t care what 1950s docudramas would have anybody believe. And before anyone starts talking about how some responsibilities should fall to wives, especially if they stay at home, while others should fall to husbands, especially if they work outside the home, allow me to remind everyone that there is no document anywhere that states these tasks are set in stone or that husbands aren’t obligated to step in and help a sista out when she’s knocked up and barfing her small intestine out her gaping word hole or running on 20 minutes of sleep total since bringing baby home from the hospital last week.
It’s called a domestic partnership for a reason. Partners do whatever they have to do to ensure 100% of the work gets done 100% of the time, regardless of whether that load can be split 50/50, 70/30, or 99/1 and whether or not each person’s load changes from day to day, week to week, month to month, or year to year.
I simply can’t figure out why women are settling for this. It’s not in a man’s DNA to be an unhelpful sonofabitch. Really, it’s not. They’re not naturally wired to sit on the couch in their stained tees and boxers, demanding dinner and shouting out commands to “Get these kids under control already, damnit!” while their wives break their backs and their resolve to keep some semblance of domestic order and not beat the shit out of the next little person who screams, “I HATE BROCCOLI AND CHICKEN AND YOU!” at the dinner table. This type of spousal behavior is not some universal norm, ladies, and is therefore not acceptable.
Believe it or not, there are husbands and partners out there who wouldn’t be caught dead behaving in such a fashion, not to mention who wouldn’t think twice about taking over dinner duties on top of everything else until their wives get a handle on whatever physical or emotional ailments haunt them and household duties can be reorganized and shared. There are quite a lot of these husbands, in fact. And if yours isn’t one of them, ladies, I recommend you start demanding he become one.
You deserve at least that much, if not more. Lord knows you have your hands full enough with everything else on your plate. (Particularly if what’s on that plate frequently comes right back up the exact same way it went down.)