Parental Involvement

I chose to become a teacher, in part, so I would have more flexibility in the afternoons to participate in my kids lives. I wanted to be available to meet with their teachers (if needed), take them to activities, and participate in their school communities. I wanted to be an involved parent, and it seemed like sharing my kids’ schedule would help me do that.

It’s interesting then, that the fact that I’m the only parent who does that for our children, makes me seethe with resentment.

I’ve written about this before. It’s hard and it’s complicated and it’s not something that is likely to change while my husband has an inflexible city job and I drive the only car we own.

And yet, I find myself fixating on it from time to time, mired in envy that he can come whenever he damn well pleases while I have to watch the clock like hawk every afternoon. How he can just stay late on that call or attend that last minute meeting without a care in the world, while I have to ask to leave a professional development 15 minutes early so I can get my kid to her swim lesson on time (the traffic was so bad, we still ended up missing half of it). That he never has to remember when the Thanksgiving feast is, or what we signed up to bring, and he never has to have ornaments for the aftercare Christmas tree decorating and he never has to check that our daughter finished all her homework, or make sure he doesn’t leave our son’s favorite blankie in his cubby. The sheer amount of things he never has to think about it is massive.

Make him think about these things! You’ll tell me. Make him get involved! But he’s just not that kind of person. I’d probably spend more time managing his involvement than it would take me to just do it myself. Even when he does want to do something it usually doesn’t get done: He’s been talking about enrolling our daughter in a dance class but I’m totally maxed out on extracurricular activities and told him if he wants to do that he can figure it out himself (and it has to happen on the weekends and he will take her). I think you can guess how much leeway has been made on our daughter’s dance class (absolutely none in his six months he’s been talking about it).

The reality is, I can’t even delegate specific tasks to him because he never has the car and there are no useful stores on his way home from work.

I think I used to feel better about being responsible for every aspect of our kids lives back when my husband was responsible for the mornings. But I’ve been involved in the morning routine (and taking my daughter to school) for 1.5 years now, and in that time the amount of shit that needs to be executed for my daughter alone has grown exponentially (thank you elementary school).

So yes, I know there is no way to resolve this, no way for it to get better. I guess I need to just remember why I chose this profession in the first place, and be grateful I can provide the parental involvement.

6 Comments

  1. Yet another post that I feel like I could’ve written. I work 32 hours a week, and K works around 70, so I should do more household and kid stuff than he does. And yet I still feel like I’m doing way more than my fair share. I don’t have time to write a long response, so i’ll just say Yes to all of this.

  2. This is one of those situations where many are likely to have advice, but they are coming from the situation from their perspective. In some cases the solution is simply to revisit how tasks are divided and to provide the other partner with some more responsibility. But in other cases, it’s a lot more complex.

    I’m wondering based on your recent fight about you being miserable, if talking about this situation with your husband would be helpful. Sometimes the simple acknowledgement of how childcare isn’t (or doesn’t seem) equally divided and a plan for some relief (either with a night off or lighter weekends) can help. Sometimes you have to push for change. It’s individual. Regardless, I’m sorry you’re feeling so frustrated.

  3. Really want to acknowledge that you see both what is happening and why it works this way. I think you also know that part of your intensity about it right now is based in the reality that you are super stressed after a demanding season at work, holiday demands (which are falling disproportionately on you), and that you two haven’t had enough time ‘off’ together so you don’t feel adequately supported, loved and recognized in what you are doing.
    Your husband knows but prefers, for human reasons, to not think about how all this is working. Not sure but hope it helps to know you are not alone in this. Not all partnerships with children work this way ~ but your partnership does and always has and probably this will not change any time soon.
    I do send caring, understanding, support and acknowledgement of both the frustrating reality and the fact that you present it evenly. I wish so much that you two could have a weekend, or even 28 hours, off! Can you ask for that for Christmas from any of the grandparents?

  4. These are hard issues and I relate to aspects of this. Even women I know who have husbands who are extremely involved and do a lot of childcare complain about partners not doing the “mental work,” like keeping track of schedules, knowing when camp sign up starts, remembering to put your kid in the outfit grandma bought when you go to visit, etc. This is very common.

  5. Great comments above, and I don’t have much to add other than I hear ya, and I feel the same way. It’s just so damn exhausting sometimes to always have to be the mental and physical glue that holds everything together for everyone all the time.

  6. Great food for thought in the above comments.
    Can you delegate some non time sensitive tasks to your husband on weekends? I don’t know if it’s the same with you, the main thing I struggle is delegating to my husband because I feel he doesn’t do them exactly like how I want it to be done (he tries but he thinks it’s not worth it to go another store to get the exact same thing. So he just gets a similar one. Just an example but some things are much more than that) and honestly it doesn’t matter ninety percent of the time. Initially it may feel time consuming giving all the instructions but eventually it will be easy. You can send your daughter with him too. They’ll soon figure out a way.
    I’m not sure what you can change immediately about your daily routine, so please try to cut down on the other stuff so you don’t get burned out.
    Sending you virtual support and positive vibes.

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