I got an email from a reader the other day asking for advice. At first, I felt like I knew the "right" answer, but then I caught myself. I realized I was trying to parse the email for clues, identifying "issues" and taking apart the text for hidden meanings, as if the question were some kind of puzzle to be solved, as if the complicated situation of work and family life, and the challenges of becoming a father can be decoded from a single, anonymous, incomplete message. While that might be entertaining to read, or even to print out and wave in someone's face, it doesn't seem all that useful to me.
Instead, I thought I'd put the gist of her question out there and see if anyone in a similar situation--dad or mom, go-to-worker or stayer-at-home--can provide some perspective from his or her own experience:
I would love to get a man's opinion on my concerns, mainly because women just take my side, and that doesn't encourage progress.So if any of this sounds familiar to you, what can you add from your experience?
So, here are my concerns: My husband participates very little in raising our new baby (now nine months old).
I'm a full time mom and find my days entirely exhausting, as I throw all my zest and passion into playing, teaching, and nurturing my baby. By the time my husband arrives home at 6:00 p.m., I'm due for a break; but, he only wants to hold the baby for approximately five to ten minutes and then be left alone to unwind.
I get that he needs to unwind (I used to work long days at [a high-pressure corporate job]--say no more, right?), since he's a [medical professional] who works 9-5, 5 to 6 days/week. However, since he's the sole breadwinner now, he considers my job as heading up all the domestic duties, including childrearing.
Since I took issue with this and discussed it with him, he hired a housekeeper to clean our home. And, I'm grateful for that. However, when I say I need a few hours at night to work out and unwind, he tells me to hire a nanny to care for the baby. I don't want a nanny; but, more importantly, I want him to bond with his daughter. He was very clear from the beginning that he wanted a baby. So, why doesn't he care for her?