I get how it feels. You spend 9 months carrying a baby along, suffering from morning sickness, back pain, sleeplessness, hormonal imbalances, and strange food aversions. You muster all the physical and mental strength you have to push the baby out of your body or have an incision made that takes months to heal. You breastfeed (or bottlefeed) all hours of the day and night. You spend the day trying to fit all the things you want to do around all the things you must do – all the while wondering when the baby is next going to interrupt you, or maybe even when they will ever stop crying.
And then there’s your husband. What does he do exactly? Well, he had a small hand in the creation of the baby… and then nothing. He gets to go to work, eat donuts, chat with his colleagues, play solitaire on his desktop, do a little work in between, and generally have a good time.
At least, that’s what you imagine as you sip your unintentionally cold brew just having a moment’s break from trying to keep a tiny human being alive all day.
Contrary to the ease you are sure your hubby is enjoying, your day seems to be free from all things easy and enjoyable. Wiping snot. Cleaning vomit. Reading “Spot’s Birthday Party” for the tenth time. Having your plans interrupted by teething and a baby clawing at your leg while crying “Mumumumumumum!”
… and you’re sure your husband is laughing right now. With a donut in his hand and a fresh, hot coffee on his desk.
I know. I’ve thought this. I’ve felt the bitter resentment and jealousy come unexpectedly and strong, bubbling and boiling up inside, growing into an intense desire to have what he has – if only for a day. Just for a few hours. What he has seems like complete freedom compared to the drudgery you feel shackled to.
Why do I have to do so much while he has such a great time?
This feeling grows inside you until it spews out in angry demands or snarky hints – or gets vented out to your girlfriends. “Men! Pffft. What do they do?!”
But I want you to remember, new mum, that these thoughts aren’t fair. Your husband is a new dad too and whether you realise it or not, he sacrifices just as much as you.
- Though he didn’t carry the baby, he likely did what he could to make your time easier. He listened to your concerns, prayed over you and the baby, rubbed your back, carried the groceries, took an extra share of the housework, and was patient with all your bizarre mood swings and cravings.
- Though he didn’t give birth to the baby, he had to watch all the physical and mental pain you went through and sit by, helpless. If there is anything our men hate, it is to have to see our physical and emotional hurts and not be able to help. Men are fixers. Yet, he had to watch you go through that.
- Though he doesn’t have to get up for the night feedings (unless the baby is bottle-fed), his sleep is still interrupted and his schedule thrown to the wind. He can’t have his precious weekend sleep-ins like he used to. And still, every morning he still has to drag himself out of bed, get dressed, and go to work.
- Though he doesn’t look after the baby all day, he sometimes wishes he could. Sometimes when he gets home the baby is asleep or grumpy and all he has are stories, pictures, or short videos you share at the end of the day to tell him all his child has done. Sometimes he wishes he had as much time to develop that bond with his child.
- Though he isn’t as tied down with the baby as you are, he is at just as high a risk of burn-out. He loves his precious recreation time, yet he knows his family is more important. He loves his family and so spends time with them after working all day, but can suffer from his cup being empty in just the same way you can.
* * * * *
It can be tempting to think that we are the only ones who are sacrificing, but our men sacrifice too. Don’t let the world’s lies make you think or act like you are the only parent. More often than not, our men have a different role and are just trying to do the best they can with what knowledge, experiences, and resources they have.
“It’s hard being the daddy, boy”, my husband hugged our son and sighed heavily as he got ready to head out the door, “It’s hard being the mummy too,” he added with a quick sideways glance at me, “Being a mum is hard because of what you have to do. Being a dad is hard because of what you don’t get to do.”
He headed out the door and my son cried for a bit before he happily toddled off to play. I thought about what my husband said and realised that what is regularly portrayed to us by SAHMs about their lives being so difficult and their husbands having it easy is completely false. Stay-at-home-mumming isn’t as terrible or as difficult as everyone makes it out to be, but being a dad is a lot harder than everyone makes it out to be.
Give your man the credit he deserves. Realise that your husband sacrifices too, even if it’s not the same sacrifices you make. There are probably many times that he, as he sits there pounding away at a keyboard, thinks about how you get to read and play with your child and wishes that he could swap roles with you.
Perhaps it’s time that we stopped complaining about what our husbands don’t do and started appreciating them for all they do – because they sacrifice just as much.
“Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25).
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