Wednesday, September 19, 2007

But Mama gets all the sugar

After a little more than a year of parenting, I have learned a shocking truth: even though a child might have two parents, parenting duties aren't shared 50/50.

I know, you're laughing at me. Snickering at my naivete. Go ahead and laugh. I'll wait.

Still laughing? Wiping tears from your eyes? Here's a Kleenex. Really, I'll continue when you're done.


Being a parent is a tough job. It must be especially hard if you're a single parent having to be both mom and dad to a child. Even when you have another person to share parenting with, though, it can still be difficult to adjust to the huge life change you have to experience in order to truly understand.

Like today. JP came home sick yesterday and didn't work today. All day, he lay in bed. He moped over his bowl of soup (that I prepared for him) at the kitchen table. He watched TV. He basically had the days off to rest and relax.

Fly and I were sick the week before his birthday. Did I get to sleep as much as I wanted? Did I get to lie around in my underwear? Did JP watch Fly? Ha! Now it's my turn to laugh. JP got two sick days, and I got a week of being sick. I know I sound whiny, but it's not fair. I've kept my vicious comments to myself (OK, I shared them with friends) so as to help JP recover more quickly.

When we have a party, I watch and take care of Fly. Same story for when we go on trips. And because Fly sleeps only about two hours more than I do in a day, I don't get much of a break.

I am really learning what it means to have no time for yourself.

I don't want to give the impression that JP never does anything. He's excellent at putting things together and fixing things when they break. He's super handy at all kinds of things. He takes care of the yard. But he helps me with Fly basically only when he feels like it.

I know that because I stay at home with Fly, my primary job is taking care of him and that JP's primary job is to work so we can pay our bills. I get that -- I really do -- and in so many ways, I'm thankful. However, it's been a huge adjustment to go from a couple of people in love who make decisions and plans together and who share everything together ... to a couple of people who apparently have split duties down a very defining line. There's a new invisible his/hers boundary where a mushy ours openness existed. This wasn't explained to me. It's not what I bargained for. It's what I have learned to expect, though. I know I will go back to work at some point, but that will likely be after these care-intensive baby years are over.

As I was crying on my friend's shoulder relaying these thoughts to my friend Roo, who has been through this, she acknowledged my feelings and tried to cheer me up by saying, "Yeah, but Mama gets all the sugar."

I get to hold Fly. JP holds his briefcase. I get to kiss Fly whenever I want. JP has to wait until he comes home. I got to see Fly take his first steps. JP got a phone call about it. I get the crying and the teething and the poosplosions and the sore nipples -- but I also get the biggest smiles and the little fingers that still wrap around my thumb, the satisfaction of singing Fly to sleep and the chance to take care of my baby the way I want to.

Yes, I get all the sugar, and I'm learning to lick up all the sugar in spite of the dust.

(Thanks to Scribbit for hosting the Write-Away Contest, whose theme this month is learning. And guess what? I won an honorable mention! Yay!)

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Our house is similar, and isn't it wonderful when you look at the benefits instead of the lack of sleep? It's hard, but much better. ;-)

(Heh - my word verification sorta spelled naked baby. nkkdbby. Tee hee!)

10:16 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Too true, too true.

10:36 PM  
Blogger Scribbit said...

This is so true, things aren't shared 50/50 but then I feel guilty about it when the kids get hurt and they ALWAYS want me. If they're sick or in pain or excited, then they want me. A big perk of all that extra work.

And I LOVE that dress--but then I'm a big fan of Banana Republic.

11:43 PM  
Blogger Erin said...

It's the party and trips and having to still take care of the kids that really gets to me. He wants to go camping, we'll go camping! But who's chasing the kids to try and keep them from falling in the fire pit?
I know you know what I mean.

1:38 AM  
Blogger Nadine said...

Great post. You get all the sugar is great. I remember those days. It does get easier when they get older, but I remember no sick days. No fun. I'm glad you and Fly and JP are well.

3:10 AM  
Blogger Jennifer Swanepoel said...

Roo is so wise, isn't she? :)

It was great to see you today! (Yesterday, I guess I should say...)

4:46 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yep, it isn't 50/50. I was amazed at how much the line is off on his/her duties across the board...and I work full time too so hubby can't use the excuse of "work" at night. It has been a difficult reality for me some days. But I admit I secretly smile sometimes when "daddy" can't soothe Baby K because all she wants is me. Pulling the extra weight does have it's rewards with smiles & snuggles in the end.

6:45 AM  
Blogger Andrea said...

Our house sounds like yours too...but I agree, sometimes when I feel like I am the only one who takes care of our precious boy...all I have to do is stop and think about how I am the one he prefers over all others, and I get most of the kisses and hugs and I get to see his firsts and all his special moments and see his funny 'lil character! :)

8:57 AM  
Blogger ohAmanda said...

I could have written your post--just not as beautifully! My dh and I used to have the same job--one office, 2 desks. And now I'm at home. We used to be a team in EVERYTHING. It's almost like being newlyweds again. Definitely a learning experience.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Cynthia said...

After the day we had yesterday, it is good to remind myself of this...Many days husband makes it home just in time for bed, it's hard and certainly not 50/50. I still would not want anyone else raising my babies (I get all the sugar)!

1:03 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

Wonderfully put. Aren't we truly the fortunate ones?

2:36 PM  
Blogger Mama's Moon said...

When friends of ours suggest "a chance for our families to get together and hang out" what this particular group of friends mean is: let's all get together to talk football, let the wives and kiddies sit in another room, and we'll all have a blast!'. Totally different perspective from this mom who not only has to watch and chase my two little kiddos, but help keep an eye on everybody else's as we 'try' to spend time together. *sigh* It's too much -- I'm totally there with you, though, on the 'sugars'.


2:50 PM  
Blogger Elizabeth said...

I'm lovin' me some late-night-newborn-nursing sugar, these days. Have a great day!

6:13 PM  
Blogger Kristi said...

Ain't it the truth. It's been my experience that no matter how much a baby impacts the man's life, the woman's life is impacted 10 fold. And I think it ought to be required by law that when mom and baby are sick, dad needs to take a sick day to stay home and take care of them. I learned this myself the hard way this week.

8:44 PM  
Blogger Mamacita Tina said...

I'm feeling the same frustrations, and also reaping the same rewards. Thank goodness for blogging so at least we can comfort one another and remind one another of what great things we get to do each day.

10:06 PM  
Blogger LBA said...

We do the parties like an allocated driver - the person with the most interest/most friends at the party gets to have more fun, while the other is the main childsitter.

It works well.
And sometimes ? My son can be a blesssing NOT to have to talk to some people .... heh ... ;)

8:29 AM  
Blogger Amanda said...

It's true. And, this totally shallow, and perhaps just here, but mama don't never gotta kill spiders.

11:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it is so hard. But here, you've pointed that out-- and still you see the blessings. Congratulations.

1:19 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

You know, the more children you have, the closer you get to 50/50, just because there are more children than hands.

No pressure, I'm just saying....

6:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am SO with you. Whenever I get sick I get about one hour of help and then IT NEVER FAILS my husband comes down with whatever I have and my rest is over. But you are right, we do get all the sugar. Sweet, sweet, sweet sugar.

8:35 PM  
Blogger soccer mom in denial said...

While I couldn't agree more that it is wonderful to "get the sugar" (and how sweet it is), I wouldn't mind a bit more face time by the man. Especially this weekend - he's at away for a bachelor party shin-ding.


7:38 AM  
Blogger Tiffany @ Lattes And Life said...

Thank you, thank you, thank you. My husband started a new job, keeping him away 12 hours a day, 6 days a week.....and I've been a royal witch over the he/she divide in our duties....thank you so much for reminding me that *I* do indeed get all the sugar!!!!

8:31 AM  
Blogger Theresa said...

Well said. I've got chills, this story is so familiar. You should write the book on what to expect . . . from your partner. Congrats on your scribbit prize.

1:06 PM  
Blogger Daisy said...

Congrats on the prize! You deserve it. And Fly? Well, you deserve the sweetness that comes with the stay-at-home deal. You've earned that, too.

8:05 PM  
Blogger Patois42 said...

Congrats on getting the honorable mention from Scribbit's contest. You've written such an accurate portrayal of how so many of us feel. Now, if we can just keep singing the sugar mantra to ourselves.

9:16 PM  
Blogger Kristin Allen said...

I can So relate to this posting. I'm always struggling with the love/hate relationship of mothering. Congrats on your book, and on the honorable mention in the contest. At least you have this blog to exercise that brain.

8:27 PM  

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