I’m awakened at 5am by the sound of incessant caterwauling. What is it? Is that a homeless feline being dissected by a vagrant with a bowie knife? No, that’s my son and he’s packing a load in his britches so large that the thought of hiring some landscapers to shovel it out passes through my mind. I live very close to the border, there must be some immigrants around here somewhere willing to do this on the cheap…Despite my weariness, I go ahead and dive right in, because I do, in fact, love the boy and I’m somewhat of a giver. After this brief episode, I’m quickly off to work where my cup runneth over with a plethora of quality co-workers and a seemingly endless myriad of uneducated simpletons who bring an abundant amount of joy into my already joyous life. But, what the hell, I think to myself…my salary is about the same as people who serve food to other people for gratuities and I only have to work 65 hours per week so basically I’m an extremely satisfied individual with a bountiful 401K and pension plan except I don’t have either of those things. That’s alright, at least the thought of them makes me smile, I’ll only have to work until I’m 90.
At the conclusion of my enriching day laboring amongst the über-intelligent and gifted, I head back home where I’m greeted by the faint aroma of baby vomit in a house that used to smell like floral coriander and sweet carrots marinating in delicious Worchestershire sauce. All I want to do before I restart this illustrious cycle is…maybe lay on the couch, watch some TV, maybe have a beer or two or three and throw my hand in my pants but, unfortunately, none of that is in the definition of “pulling your weight.”
‘Tis true, that being a father comes with no breaks, no workers’ comp, and absolutely zero paid time off. But the solution is an easy one, right? Just tell her about it. Surely your wife or baby momma will sympathize with your endless laboring for your newly hatched spawn. As the immortal Billy Joel tune goes…”tell her about it, tell her how you feel. Give her every reason to except that you’re for real“…Now while this may be a good idea in theory…or sound nice set to music, ‘tis not quite the case with a new baby and a first-time mom. I know what you’re thinking…no one knows relationships better than Billy Joel! However, although “For the Longest Time” might have helped you through a relationship or two, Billy Joel’s commentary on “what you should and shouldn’t tell your significant other” missed the mark entirely. A mother will simply not sympathize with your endless personal turmoil. In fact, she may be jealous of your turmoil and eager to trade places with you.
Why is that? Your suffering is exceeded only by your desire for an hour off. However, while you’ve been at work all day dealing with a proverbial clown car of Mensa scholars that occupy your place of employ, your lady has been home repeating the same cycle of caterwauling and shoveling of baby excrement that you started your day with. While you were a one-time recipient of the backlash of angry-morning-baby, your wife has been home alone with the pungent yet delightful musk of baby shit wafting through the family estate and the soft essence of baby vomit caressing her shoulder. While you choked down the vile sludge in the free employee cafeteria, she was home all day not eating at all, lest she be the victim of not simple caterwauling, but enraged caterwauling for neglecting an exceedingly needy creature who requires the attention usually reserved for royalty. While you were awe struck by the remarkable ineptitude of your award-winning cast of extremely average co-workers, she was at home, awe struck by the remarkable agony of both areolas as they cracked and bled after the profound intensity exacted upon them by a creature who’s unbridled cravings for motherly lactose rivals most of the characters’ blood-lust in the Blade Trilogy. While you were out pulling your weight and perhaps even being recongnized for it, someone else was pulling more, clandestinely.
It’s actually not that sad a tale that men face. The perils of fatherhood are so much more perceived than actual. Where your seemingly ceaseless anguish meets eternal frustration, that’s where you’ll find the being that is really pulling the weight. Stay-at-home parenting earns no money. It contributes nothing to the financial welfare of the family. The stay-at-home parent perceives their existence as stagnate. There is no career that is less thankful. No job less forgiving. No boss more demanding. There is no break, vacation, or paid overtime. It is a job that would never be applied for if it were posted online with a description. The joy of spending an overabundant amount of time with a baby becomes an unforgiving chore.
As I leverage my portly and pathetic corpus out of bed each morning, I smile more when I depart for work, knowing that in my household, I have the easier of the two jobs. I still come home to the same cycle and endure the same hardship, but I complain less. I still find it challenging to pull my weight, but I appreciate that although my relationship with my wife might not always be the way it used to be, it is solely because of the job she is currently doing. My labor provides barely enough to survive. Her labor is what really keeps everything afloat.