Being a working mom is by far the hardest thing I've ever done. Not only do I have to juggle the ever-moving, multiple balls of motherhood, but I'm also our household's project manager, scheduler, administrator, chef, housekeeper, interior designer, dishwasher, laundress, grocery shopper, list-maker, and alarm-setter... to say nothing of the work I'm actually paid to do. To make matters worse, there are so many things my husband just doesn't understand about my life as a working a mom, namely that, in my opinion, it will always be harder than being a working dad.
I've heard similar complaints when speaking with other working moms about their own situations, both at home and outside of it. More moms are choosing to enter the workforce, which is awesome, but we're still largely expected to be the default parents and primary home economists, too. It's not that we don't tell our husbands how we feel, because I think the majority of us understand how valuable communication is in any relationship and are more than capable of handling tense discussions like adults. It's just not easy to get our husbands to understand. I mean, how do you explain to someone how stressful it is to always have to be the one to take the day off when a kid is sick? Or how full your brain gets when you have to keep everyone healthy, fed, clothed, and manage to keep things on track at work, too. Or how ashamed you feel when something inevitably falls through the cracks, or your boss complains about your kid getting sick again.
The truth is, if my husband sent his kids to school in mismatched clothes, or missed a doctor's appointment on accident, or had to skip out on work to stay at home with a sick kid, he would be praised. No one would ask him how he's "balancing it all" and no one would assume he's choosing family over his career, or visa versa. It's clear that working moms are tired of shouldering more than our fair share of the load, which is why we're opening up about the one thing we wish our husbands understood about working outside the home when you're a mom.
"I wish you would understand that I feel like I have three full time jobs — mother/wife, household manager, and my actual job. Managing our house encompasses so much — dishes, laundry, cleaning, organizing, appointments, phone calls, taking care of all the details that keep our family running.
Also, just because I do all three of my jobs from our home doesn't mean it's easy. In fact, the blurred lines between the personal and professional is the hardest part."
"That work trips are still work. They aren’t a vacation away from home, and I very rarely have any personal fun on them."
"Being the person in charge of meals, school, kids, clothes, and organizing everything on top of working is exhausting."
"That 'tell me what to do' or 'how can I help you?' still is putting all the responsibilities on me. It is sometimes easier mentally to do it myself, than to run down the list of things that literally need to get done every single morning and figure out which ones I should tell him to do."
"I wish he understood the mental load of being a working mom. I'm currently packing the diaper bag for tomorrow. He's taking the kids to the dentist, so I put in the paperwork filled out by me. I put in a sippy cup and bib, because the appointments are mid-morning so they're going to need to eat lunch before going back to daycare. If I didn't prep the bag with everything he might need it wouldn't occur to him and everything would fall apart.
I remind him that the appointments exist, because of course I scheduled them and he would forget otherwise. He wants to help, but things like this just do not enter his brain because he was raised in a house where it all fell on his mother."
"That my earning potential has decreased since I became a mom. I've been overlooked for 'stretch' opportunities, because 'I have a lot going on with my family.' Parenthood improves male earning potential and worsens female earnings, which are already weaker in comparison. This is at least partially due to, in my opinion, the fact that moms are the default parent in most hetero relationships."
"My husband once told me when our son was about 8-months-old that I just needed to 'prioritize sleep more.' I don’t think I’ve ever forgiven him. He doesn’t understand that I can’t sleep if I know that I need to do x, y, and z tonight or tomorrow morning’s mad dash to daycare and work won’t go smoothly (or at all). He seems to be able to pass out at night without worrying about what the next day holds."
"I wish my husband understood the concept of mental load. It is exhausting to have to be the one that schedules everything. Or being the only one to deal with packing lunch, making sure she is wearing tennis shoes on gym days, has her library book on library days, and is wearing the right color for spirit week, arranging play dates, and figuring out Halloween plans. All those things are work, but do not have a visible result like emptying the dishwasher."
"That I was getting myself and three other people ready. Well four, counting him. He could not comprehend I was doing 90 percent of the household workload and working 40 hours a week. He said, 'But, I do help you.'
Yes. He did. Once a week he'd do a load of laundry or fold it. I wish he had understood that it's daily, hourly upkeep. I wish he had understood that I see all the small things that still need to be done all the time — from dishes to homework or forms to be signed."
"I run an in-home daycare, and he couldn’t understand why I couldn’t get the laundry/dishes/yard work/everything done with eight to 10 kids underfoot every day or why I was so tired at the end of the day when I clearly didn’t do anything."
"That I'm always tired AF, and just want alone time for a little bit. I'm either with our son, and doing things that need done at home, or I'm at work. I feel like he thinks as soon as he gets home I am running off to go have fun, when in reality I'm going to sit in an office for the next five to eight hours and try to make sure I do everything correctly there after having an exhausting day at home."
"Whenever you sit down with a drink when you get home from work instead of actively helping me get the table set and dinner served, I kind of want to stab you."
"That along with being the default parent and all of the mental labor of running a house and everyone’s schedules and appointments, and trying to maintain and grow my own career and actively working, all he has to do is work.
And yes, it makes me jealous sometimes and can make me resentful. And no, I can’t clap for him every time he does the extra thing. There is no balance. I take up everything that needs to be done that I see, and he just has to work. I’m constantly putting myself last, in an effort to make sure everything else gets done."