1- Dad’s take on just as much of the burden of parenthood as moms
Hear me out…Mom’s take on a lot. We are typically the “default” parent and we carry the mental load of the family. As a stay-at-home mom, I often feel overwhelmed with my “duties” that I have taken on. Not only do I take care of three children under the age of 4, but I also do everything in between. Budgeting, paying bills, cleaning, cooking, school and therapy transportation, prescription re-filler, schedule keeper, and the list could go on and on. I often see articles on the internet chastising men/husbands for not sharing the burden of parenthood. I will not lie. Somedays I envy my husband. He gets to leave the house every day, go to work, and interact with other adults. Until recently when I had a realization, my husband carries just as much burden, if not more, than I do.
As a single-income family, our entire livelihood depends on his employment. Without his income, we would lose everything. Think about it…that is HUGE. He is responsible for the lives of four other people. Not to mention, the health insurance factor. My husband not only brings in the income he also provides the benefits. As a family with a child that has special needs, health insurance is more important than the wages earned. Without it, our son would not receive the care he desperately needs. So next time you see a Facebook post or article about dads and their lack of burden in parenthood try and play devil’s advocate with yourself odds are you will realize they are under just as much stress.
2-Putting your family first
This one is fresh for my family. As I write this we are literally on day 3 of my husband switching from second shift to first shift. My husband works in law enforcement and for the last seven years, he has worked second shift. It was fine when it was just us wading through the early years of marriage but then we started having children. When our oldest was born it was all doable. I managed dinner, bathtime, bedtime, etc. When our second was born it became increasingly difficult but again, I managed. I knew that the people on second shift were like family to my husband and many of them had been there for us over the years when various tragedies had occurred. After our third child was born in November of 2020 I could not manage it anymore. After nearly 7 years I asked my husband to switch shifts. Juggling bedtime routines for three children simultaneously was slowly killing me. My husband did not hesitate and he switched to first shift as soon as it was possible. Of course, he did not want to leave the people that have been by his side all these years but it was time that we put our family first.
3-Kitchens— yes you read that correctly, I said kitchens
I blame this one on Instagram influencers. Scroll through my social media and you will not find a single picture taken in my kitchen and for the love of all things holy, you will not see a picture that includes my kitchen floor. Why you ask? Because I hate it. I cannot stand my kitchen. It is quite literally from the early 1980s, not functional, and downright ugly. Three years ago my husband and I bought our house in a sought-after suburb. We did not look at houses in this suburb because of status but rather for the school district and the services they could offer our child on the Autism spectrum. We saved for years for a down payment but the housing market was rough at the time so we took on a 1970s fixer-upper in an amazing neighborhood. That meant fixing and renovating what was NECESSARY first. In a matter of three years we have replaced every single window, the roof, the siding, and all appliances. Not to mention every wall, and I mean every single wall, has been painted. We have done so much to our house and I am DARN proud of that. I recently realized that the embarrassment of my kitchen is STUPID. Of course, I still hate the kitchen and would love to redo it but it is operational and for that I am grateful. So instead of being embarrassed, I have decided to be proud of what we have accomplished with our home. On our own with our own money. So until we miraculously save $40,000 (yes that is what we need to do our kitchen in its entirety) I will be grateful and proud.
4-Opposite political views
I cannot believe this STILL needs to be normalized but after the election of 2020, it has become clear that normalizing opposite political views still have a long way to go. Having your own views and opinions is what makes America…well, America. We can think, believe, and speak what we want, and that in itself is beautiful. As long as people are respectful to one another we should be able to talk about politics. One thing that irked me over the course of the most recent presidential election was the number of people that would post things like, “if you align with XYZ then delete me as a friend.” Seriously?! Come on, people. I get it, people have strong feelings these days. But as long as respectful conversations can be had then there is no reason for things to get ugly, especially on the internet.
You heard me. Just say no. This is one that I have gotten better with over the years and I have my children to thank for that. We should not feel obligated to take on everything, attend everything, and agree to everything. I have hundreds of examples but the best one is when you have a baby. I have determined that after three children visitors in the hospital are the WORST. When my oldest was born I was in labor for 28 hours. It was long, it was grueling, and towards the end, it was downright scary. I was absolutely exhausted after that and the complications that occurred after were traumatizing. Yet, I still said yes to visitors.
With my second child, I invited just my mom and my husband to the birth. That birth was insanely fast, a tad scary, and required a lot of physical healing afterward. After baby number two I limited our visitors. I put my foot down to anyone outside of my family. Yes, that included my mother-in-law. At the time she was a heavy smoker and my husband and I made the decision that we did not want that around our children. Was she happy about that choice? Nope. But it was the first time I took the “my kids, my rules” attitude.
Baby number three is my “pandemic baby” born in November of 2020. Absolutely no visitors and only one support person. This time the choice was made for me and it was AMAZING. I know many women may not agree but I was 100% happier not having a single visitor. I did miss not having my mom there for the birth but I was at peace with not having any visitors, including my two boys. It was peaceful, calm, and allowed me to rest before coming home and having to adjust to life with three kids under three. That experience gave me the confidence to say no. It does not come from a place of hatred, anger, or despise. It comes from a place of knowing my limits and acknowledging them. If someone cannot understand that then they are not in your arena, to begin with. So let’s normalize saying NO.