Archive for April 25th, 2012
My husband and I just celebrated our tenth wedding anniversary. I’d say we have a great marriage. There’s no one I trust more, no one else I’d rather talk to, and no one who makes me laugh harder.
But that doesn’t mean I don’t get furious at him from time to time.
Once, when I was dangling at the end of my rope, I insisted he go to the doctor for a hearing test. I was quite certain the man was deaf. How else, for instance, could he have taken my grandma’s books to Goodwill instead of the antique-book dealer, as I’d asked when he was cleaning out the basement?
Just as I’d gotten used to the idea of the man I love with hearing aids, the news came in from the doctor. My husband’s ears work fine. Better than mine, actually.
I know I’m not the only one who gets Mad at Dad. Whenever I see the phone number of a certain close friend on the caller ID, I know she needs my understanding ear because her husband has dropped a wad of cash on electronics while telling her she can’t have someone in every other week to help clean, or because he let the kids eat junk food and play video games while she was running errands, and now they’re glassy-eyed and glued to the ceiling. Meanwhile, his whiskers are in the sink and his boxers are on the floor, making her feel like she’s married to nothing more than a hairy man-child.
These are the kinds of things we see parodied on TV sitcoms, where bumbling husbands get laughs for feeding the kids frosting sandwiches and sending them to school in scuba gear. These are the kinds of things we moan and groan about when we get together with our other mom friends, often playing our irritations for laughs. Honestly, though, it’s not that funny. None of us signed up to live in a sitcom.
Life for women may be better in many ways than it’s ever been, but we’re far from whistling show tunes. According to Parenting‘s nationally representative survey of more than 1,000 mothers on MomConnection, an online panel of moms, the majority of us confess to feeling anger at surprising levels. We love our husbands — but we’re mad that we spend more mental energy on the details of parenting. We’re mad that having children has turned our lives upside down much more than theirs. We’re mad that these guys, who can manage businesses or keep track of thousands of pieces of sports trivia, can be clueless when it comes to what our kids are eating and what supplies they need for school. And more than anything else, we’re mad that they get more time to themselves than we do.
46% of moms get irate with their husbands once a week or more. Those with kids younger than 1 are even more likely to be mad that often (54 percent). About half of the moms describe their anger as intense but passing; 1 in 10 say it’s “deep and long-lasting.”
Bridget Malbrough, who lives in Houma, LA, says she feels angry “the majority of the time.” She and her husband have been married for four years, though they separated temporarily after the birth of their daughter, who’s now 1.
Her husband doesn’t seem to pay attention to or understand his daughter’s basic needs, says Malbrough – for instance, that babies need a lot of sleep. He recently came home from a shift at work at 8:00 in the morning, when Malbrough and her daughter were still snoozing. They’d been up late the night before, and both mom and baby were zonked.
“He just decides he’s going to wake everyone in the house up,” Malbrough says. “He doesn’t think she needs to sleep as much as she does.” And, she adds, not only does he violate the universal “never wake a sleeping baby” rule, but once their daughter’s awake, she’s the one who has to tend to her.
Many moms — 44 percent — are peeved that dads often don’t notice what needs to be done around the house or with the kids (it jumps to 54 percent for moms with three-plus children). We hate that we have to tell them what needs to be done, that they can step over a basket of laundry on their way to find the remote control.
Erin Niumata, a New Yorker and a mother of one, has a husband who’s handy with a vacuum because he hates to see debris on the carpet. But he’s oblivious to other things — he never remembers to clean the bathtub, for example, even though she’s asked countless times and can’t do it herself because of a back injury.
“I hate nagging,” she says. “If he asks me to do something, it’s done. But if something doesn’t matter to him, why should he bother? He’d never forget to TiVo something he wanted to watch, mind you.”
Terry, another New York mom with three kids and a full-time job, gets irate every morning during the mad rush to get the family out the door to daycare, school, and work. “I’m making breakfast, getting dressed, and screaming at everyone to get ready — while he’s at the computer,” she says. “He always hops-to when I ask him, but it bugs me that he doesn’t just pitch in and help on his own. I have to ask every damn day.”
Lots of moms — 40 percent — are also angry that their husbands seem clueless about the best way to take care of kids. We know we didn’t marry buffoons. We married smart men who can fix cars and garbage disposals, men who empty mousetraps without getting the heebie-jeebies, men who can keep track of their fantasy football trades. So why can’t they remember to put kids in coats and mittens before sending them off to school? Why do they give the baby a bottle right before we come home, all bursting and ready to nurse?
“My husband is sometimes lax when it comes to keeping an eye on the kids,” says Sarah, the mom of a toddler and preschooler in New Jersey. “No one’s ever gotten hurt, but once I came home and found that my toddler’s brand-new — expensive! — rug was covered in marker. It was clear he’d left them on their own for a while, with markers. I was furious. I’m still furious.”
40% of moms are mad that Dad can’t multitask. And the more kids they have, the madder they are: 46 percent of moms with three-plus kids are irked by this.
As mothers, we think nothing of stirring a pot of noodles while setting up a refrigerator-repair appointment, sorting mail, and helping a child with his weekly spelling words. And it annoys us when our husbands act put-upon or overwhelmed when we want them to handle a couple of things at once. The dinner hour tends to be especially trying. Randi Maerz, a stay-at-home mom who lives in Keokuk, IA, says she’s repeatedly asked her husband to watch their daughters, 4 and 2, while she’s cooking, if only to keep them safe.
Instead, he comes home with a list of things he plans to do around the house. He gets to focus on one thing at a time, whether it’s changing his clothes or doing touch-up painting on the house. Meanwhile, she’s trying to cook with human leg warmers clinging to her shins.
“His priorities always come first,” Maerz says. “He’s got to accomplish them before he can focus on helping me with the kids.” She likes how he takes on house projects, but his inability to acknowledge her needs and his unwillingness to multitask irritate her every day.
Lisa, a mom of two who lives in the suburbs of New York, knows the feeling.
After a full day at work, she can be cooking dinner, helping with homework, and taking notes for a PTA meeting while her husband is in the family room with their preschooler. She’ll ask him to sort through magazines to be recycled while he’s there, and he’ll claim he can’t because he’s watching their kid.Read Full Post | Make a Comment ( None so far )