I work full-time and my husband is a stay-at-home dad. When I come home at the end of the day, the house is a mess, the kids are fighting, the TV is always on, and he’s in the worst mood. We decided that I would work and he would stay home because it made the most economic sense, but I resent having to clean up the messes they made during the day, and I feel like he could make a better effort to entertain the kids. We fight all the time and our relationship really sucks right now.
If you were a man, I’d go find you and scratch your eyes out. Then I’d put them back in so you could see me yelling at you about how hard it is to be a stay-at-home mom.
Since I feel some solidarity with the ladies, there will be no eye-scratching, but there will be yelling. BEING A STAY-AT-HOME PARENT IS HARD. My poor husband used to come home from work to find all three of us crying. I regularly presented him with the home-cooked delicacy of defrosted chicken nuggets and macaroni and cheese. Sometimes, I was still in my pajamas. It was totally hot.
Babies are difficult, and being with them all day can make a person crazy. Cut him some slack, and consider this: you come home after a shitty day of pressure and stress and 27 conference calls that accomplished absolutely zero, and you’re worried about making your commission this month, and you’re all pissed off that your assistant forgot to send that important email and your boss yelled at you for 20 minutes about it. You need a break. Your husband was puked on by the cat, the two-year-old, and the two-year-old’s friend who came over for a playdate. Then, the dishwasher leaked all over the kitchen floor and while he was cleaning it up, the baby crawled under the kitchen sink which was left open in your husband’s haste to find a sponge. The baby might or might not have drank some Lysol, so while your husband is mopping up soapy water, he’s on the phone with poison control, trying to keep the toddler from tracking water all over the house, and keeping an eye on the baby to make sure it doesn’t suddenly collapse from drinking a toxic substance. He needs a break.
Unfortunately, children don’t allow you to take breaks. I think you both need to lay out your expectations of what your own responsibilities should be and what you think the other person should be taking care of. If they don’t match up, figure out how you can get in sync. I’m not talking about some anal-retentive list where you’re each doing exactly 1.3 loads of laundry a day; I think it needs to be more fluid. The strain on your relationship is coming from finger-pointing and blaming and misplaced expectations. Figure out what needs to be done, and figure out who’s going to do it, and I think it’ll be less stressful.