Is Nagging Really Emotional Labor?

by AustinMom

Before we go any further, I don’t think this a women’s only issue. After reading the article, I thought about our circle of friends and could only identify two couples where this “emotional labor” seems to be taken on by the male rather than female partner.

Maybe this article hit home because in the past few weeks, I have done several of these things that require the preliminary leg work, but feel thankless in the end. I agree my partner takes on specific household chores and does things I ask, but it is those things that take this emotional labor that he runs the other way from. And, his response is exactly like the author’s husband – make one phone call, decide it is too much effort, and try to change the “request” or do it where it causes me other work.

Totebaggers – Does your family resemble this dynamic, regardless of gender?

WOMEN AREN’T NAGS—WE’RE JUST FED UP

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235 thoughts on “Is Nagging Really Emotional Labor?

  1. I think we do a good job of splitting the emotional labor. If anything I probably do a little more of it (at least IMO). I handle the finances and bills, schedule repairmen and sprinkler shutoff and such. DW usually handles the meal planning and grocery shopping. We both deal with the kids stuff and their schedules.

    This quote from the article is the one that got me: “I haven’t figured out another way to make him aware of all the emotional and mental energy I’m spending to keep the house running.”

    The answer is simple (at least in theory). You agree on who is going to be responsible for different things, and agree on the acceptable standard for the tasks/jobs, and then you let the other person deal with his tasks. If they don’t get done, the responsible person needs to fix it.

    I know, it’s easier said than done.

  2. I do 99% of it. This was a problem when I worked. Now that I do not, it is kind of enjoyable.

  3. And I will say it is enjoyable because my husband would never complain about what I do. Make dinner, don’t make dinner. Clean the toilets, hire it out, let them be dirty. He just does not care. So, we have moved to almost 100% zones based primarily on gender.

  4. My 40-ish mom friends post articles like this all the time (including this one), and also make a lot of comments about “psychic burden” and things. I can see that it is an issue that people really struggle with, but I don’t really relate personally. One thing that I can say about our marriage is that I feel like we have a very agreeable division of labor and are compatible on how we like to live when it comes to cleaning/meals/school involvement/activities, etc.

    “Delegating work to other people, i.e. telling him to do something he should instinctively know to do, is exhausting. I tried to tell him that I noticed the box at least 20 times over the past two days. He had noticed it only when I was heaving it onto the top shelf instead of asking for help. The whole explanation took a lot of restraint.”

    I think the reason things like this don’t happen as much for us is because we are pretty in sync on the fact that the box sitting on the floor would be annoying. When we argue about things like this, is it because our expectations are different. For instance, when we travel, we sometimes butt heads because he is the type to be fully packed well over 24 hours before going to the airport, and that is not in my nature. He starts to get tense because I haven’t started packing yet, and I feel nagged because I feel like I have so much time. So I can see how if he was much messier than me, that it could turn into a bigger, more constant problem.

  5. “The answer is simple (at least in theory). You agree on who is going to be responsible for different things, and agree on the acceptable standard for the tasks/jobs, and then you let the other person deal with his tasks. If they don’t get done, the responsible person needs to fix it.”

    Yes. I agree completely. The problems arise if you don’t agree on the acceptable standard and/or if one person does not get out of the way and let the other person actually handle something in their “zone”.

  6. I laughed at a Facebook meme the other night that I showed DW. It read:

    “My wife said that I only have two faults. One was that I don’t listen to her, and two was some other shit she was rattling on about.”

  7. BITD, I used to argue a lot with DH because in my mind I was seeking to have do things 50/50 for every single task. Over time we drifted into divvying up tasks into his column or mine and let the other do the task without interfering in how and when it gets done. It greatly reduced the emotional stress. Of course, if either of us needs help at a particular time, we have a partner to help but day to day we know who is responsible for what. Probably saved our marriage.

  8. My husband waited for me to change my mind to an “easier” gift than housecleaning, something he could one-click order on Amazon. Disappointed by my unwavering desire, the day before Mother’s Day he called a single service, decided they were too expensive, and vowed to clean the bathrooms himself. He still gave me the choice, of course. He told me the high dollar amount of completing the cleaning services I requested (since I control the budget) and asked incredulously if I still wanted him to book it.

    Let’s break this down. Since she never called around she doesn’t know what the going rate is. He felt it was high but that could just be how much it cost. As such, she could have just said, “Book it!” She’s making a lot of assumptions here assuming her way is the best.

  9. asked incredulously if I still wanted him to book it.

    I will grant her that there’s a fair it of passive aggressive bullshit in the “asked incredulously.” On the other hand, she’s giving it as good as she’s getting by assuming her way is the best.

  10. I read this article a couple of days ago, and boy could I relate to it. I don’t think of this as emotional labor though. It is more like the necessary administrative work – boring, time consuming, and really necessary. What the writer was complaining about was that the husband was not willing to do the boring work of finding what she really wanted which was a cleaning service.

    My husband and I both work demanding jobs and yet is is me who does 99% of the detailed planning.

  11. Not only did I not recognize myself in that article, I felt anxious just reading it. I don’t think I would function well in that type of relationship.

    One of the things I respect most about DH is that he is a do-er. If something needs to be done, he’s aware of it, and it’s within his power, he does it. That can mean starting a load of laundry, or updating our modem, or whatever. And between the 2 of us, I am much messier.

    There are things I routinely take on, like dinner planning and prep. But if I text him in the afternoon and tell him he’s on dinner duty, he will absolutely take over.

    That said, I am a control freak with our money and don’t let him pay the bills or manage the day to day stuff.

  12. Ugh – looks like I lost a really long post. Basically, I thought the article was spot on. This was THE argument DH and I had a lot during our early marriage. Once he understood that he doesn’t get credit for doing stuff a parent should do (since neither do I and despite the fact that he does more than his dad or stepdad ever did) and that I don’t want to manage him. He needs to own his responsibilities.

    Since then we are so much more of a team and are better for it. The examples in the article were spot on.

  13. When we moved to our newly acquired home after marriage, I was still working and he was retired. I engaged a cleaner for the first time in my adult life. I had no interest in resenting him for not cleaning or nagging. I definitely have moments where being responsible for everything seems unfair, but the emotional cost of indulging more than momentary displeasure is greater than time it takes to deal with the issue at hand. I think this talk of emotional labor is missing the point, at least in our cohort where we have a lot of choices, although sometimes long ago choices or external events lead to unforeseen consequences. And The example in the article is classic behavior where the husband was set up from the first to fail by the request, and he knew it.

  14. Rhett – the gift is that he would handle all of it and should just book it. She shouldn’t have to know any of the details; it would just be done.

  15. Ivy – I see in my generation (Gen X) to a certain degree and definitely moreso in older generations a real fear and reluctance by wives to tell their husbands what they need.

    My mom brought this home to me when she told me how relieved she was when my dad didn’t leave her when she got breast cancer. Apparently husbands unable to deal and ditching their wives in that situation was a thing in her cohort. She was genuinely terrified he would leave her.

  16. Ditto Mooshi. I handle nearly all the “admin” in our family. I also have much higher standards for cleanliness and organization.

    I find this to be true of nearly all of my female friends. I can think of only one couple where the male was more on top of things on the home front. They’ve separated.

    To some extent, this does cause some frustration in my marriage. I sometimes feel like I have 3 sons instead of 2. DH has made a huge effort to do better and has come a long way in the ~12 years we’ve been together, which helps. The other thing that helps is keeping my expectations in check. He’s never going to do these things to my standards – he can’t. Heck I can’t even live up to my standards.

  17. Rhett – the gift is that he would handle all of it and should just book it.

    She’s in charge of the money so I can see why he wanted to make her aware.

    1. If he’s just being passive aggressive then she has a point.
    2. If he just doesn’t feel that it’s worth it to spend 4 hours trying to save $20 on a cleaning lady, then that’s his call.

  18. A true gift should be freely given rather than demanded, and should be accepted in the spirit in which it is offered. It’s the thought that counts, etc. I can relate to the author’s situation, but not with the way she tried to resolve it through a passive-aggressive Mother’s Day gift request that was really a demand for services that she *knew* her DH was not well-equipped to provide?

    Why didn’t she just ask her most reliable friend to recommend a cleaning service, and hire them? Why does it take extensive research and multiple quotes?

  19. The problems arise if you don’t agree on the acceptable standard and/or if one person does not get out of the way and let the other person actually handle something in their “zone”.

    In the first instance, the person who has a higher standard gets to deal with it. (Assuming that the other person isn’t just claiming to have lower standards to get out of the job.) In the second, if the other person isn’t getting out of the way, then they are assuming responsibility.

  20. This pretty much sums it up

    ‘“All you have to do is ask me to put it back,” he said, watching me struggle.’

    My DH is fine as long as I tell him exactly what to do. If I ask him to clean off the counters, he will do it and do a good job. But it never occurs to him to just do it, no matter how nasty the surface is. He did a great job taking on the FAFSA, which I know is an icky process. But it was me who knew we had to file it, who looked up the dates for when we needed to do it, and then who asked him to do it. Meanwhile I am creating a spreadsheet of application deadlines for every college, and task lists, and lining up someone to read his essay with him, and writing out the parent brag sheet for the guidance counselor, and reminding the kid to get on the national merit website to find out what is needed to advance to finalist, and at the same time remembering that I have to get the concerta refilled (which is an arcane process) and that I have to schedule another kind of appointment for the second kid, and daughter keeps reminding me to sign her up for guitar lessons, and on and on. I can ask my husband to do any one of these tasks, but then I have to explain exactly what is needed, what steps to take and why it is important. And he still doesn’t have the common sense to deal with things if something unexpected crops up or the ability to recognize things that are important on his own.

  21. Part of Rhett’s point is that the wife explicitly said she was upset he didn’t do it the way she wanted him to (get recommendations, call a bunch and compare prices, etc). He got one price and asked her if she was okay with it (I’m guessing she approves all the spending) and she got annoyed that she didn’t do it exactly how she would have done it.

  22. This was not an issue in our house 5 years ago. The current issue is that my partner is not following through on those things he agreed to do. A basic one – we have outside lights as part of a security system that he has the password to. Roughly, September 1, I started leaving at 5:40 am several times a week to go to the gym, the lights are scheduled come on until 6:30 am (my prior leaving time). I told him before I started the class about how much earlier I was going to be leaving and about the lights. Since the class started, I asked three times if he could please change the set up so I didn’t have to use a flashlight. The fourth time, I asked if he’d share the password and show me how to use the program. He said, no he’d do it and that I needed to stop nagging. This morning…still going out with a flashlight.

  23. Amen Mooshi! DH will do anything I ask, but I have to ask.
    Any.do (a task app) has helped us.

  24. I read this article and it resonated, but after I thought about it, I realized I’m not entirely fair. Mr WCE does specific projects extremely well. He deals only with stuff on the immediate horizon. He has managed the details of our house remodel very well. He has a months-old pile of mail to deal with most of the time. (Yes, it has a designated spot.)

    I am the one who figures out childcare, does most of the prep for the every-other-week housecleaner, cooks dinner, does most laundry (he manages his own athletic wear), pays bills/deals with mail, etc. I constantly manage the long-term so crises don’t hit in the short-term, i.e. days off school with no childcare or failure to register for the “good” childcare months ahead of time. Yesterday, for example, he double-booked himself by promising to do both robotics and soccer pickup and I offered to do soccer because soccer pickup time changed due to earlier sunsets.

    It mostly works for us. He cannot manage large family minutiae as well as I can, and I’m not painting the house, doing the low voltage wiring, repairing the dry rot on the camper or fixing the Buick.

  25. This is our marriage right now. It has gotten really bad i am afraid. DH is super lazy and will not do a thing around the house unless nagged to hell. His box of mail to be read and disposed off as necessary, has grown to 10 large boxes. I sometimes give up and go through it myself. I have often found uncased checks from excess escrow or minor dividend checks that he fails to even look at and have expired.
    In our division of labor of sorts, looking at financial stuff is his responsibility and I do not have any more faith in his ability to do anything.

    Some of the chores that he promised to do and are pending include -powerwashing and staining a small deck -15 years. Putting up curtains 1 year, installing bidet -5 years. I could go on and on.

    I have hired a handyman to do these tasks over the next two weekends. But, this attitude of his reflects in every thing that affects our life. Sadly, it leads to shouting matches in front of our kids. But I think I am at a point where I cannot take it anymore and doing some hard thinking.

  26. “He got one price and asked her if she was okay with it (I’m guessing she approves all the spending) ”

    No, go back and read – HE said it was too expensive. I guess I would have, at that point, given him a little more direction (kind of like I do with my 17 year old) and said “go call 3 more services, and ask our neighbor Sue, and see if you get comparable prices” . Maybe her mistake was that she needed to break it up into smaller steps for him.

  27. “Maybe her mistake was that she needed to break it up into smaller steps for him.”

    She might as well do it herself at that point. And THAT is the point.

  28. MM – it is the same at my house. He will do anything that I ask cheerfully and well. He really just doesn’t have the ability to manage it all on his own. He is like this at work, too. I cannot tell you the number of times he has flown back to a different airport with his car at the first one because his assistant booked it that way and he didn’t notice until he walked off the flight. What can you do? Some people are not built for details and don’t have great executive function. It is good that is where I excel. And he is vastly better at what he does than I could ever be.

  29. I took over the bill paying about 15 years ago since DH’s method was to wait on every bill until they were actually calling, and then frantically pay by credit card over the phone. And then forget to pay the credit card bill. I was sick of paying late fees.

  30. MM – do you think your husband might have ADHD? I think mine might. He has this incredible ability to hyperfocus on things like work while the rest of the world could spin out of control. He agrees with me a bit but doesn’t want to change it, which is fine, because our set-up works for us.

  31. “She might as well do it herself at that point. And THAT is the point.”

    I kind of agree, but now that I am dealing with a 17 year old, I have realized that my DH is almost as clueless when it comes to common sense planning and getting things done without a boss or parent breaking it down for him. Maybe all these husbands just need to be taught how to do things. If we patiently break it down into steps, maybe they will learn to do it themselves?

    This just seems like such a common problem. I look at my DH, and I know it is the result of the fact that he was the youngest and only boy, and his mother or sisters did everything. He learned how to accomplish specific useful tasks, like mow the lawn, from his dad, but not how to plan things. He went off to college and then 20-something singledom, but never had to be very accountable.

    Guys in their 20’s always seem to live in a state of chaotic crisis. The stakes are not that high for them. So they never learn. When we marry them, we often do a lot of the planning work for them because they are so goofy and lovable, but then the kids come, and it gets overwhelming, and we start nagging. Maybe they just need to be taught, just like we do with the kids.

  32. I haven’t read the article. I recently sent this to a friend who had said her husband ignores her and the kids, and she said it was on target. http://www.workingmother.com/this-comic-perfectly-explains-mental-load-working-mothers-bear?src=SOC&dom=fb
    As I’ve said before, the most surprising thing to me about parenting was the mental requirement. I make so many more decisions now than I expected from how I was raised. That’s partially a difference between my parents and me, and partially a sign of the times.
    I would not want that responsibility if I had a partner. It seems to me that there are more effective ways to get someone to do their share of it than nagging (which really is just doing the work in a way that’s unpleasant for both). I recall moments in relationships when someone tried to give me that role.
    My husband did more housework than I, and half the cooking (I shopped and did laundry). One evening he was irritated that I was spending the evening working again and then, when I finally stopped, I did things like check that all outside doors were locked. His irritation really kissed me off. It seemed like a direct rejection of that responsibility, and I wanted him to own it equally. Maybe we needed a cartoon or article to lay it out, because I don’t think he ever really got it.
    My son’s father came to visit over Thanksgiving when the boy was about 1.5 months old. He was invited to dinner and wanted to take the baby. I baked an apple pie, showered, and sat down to work on my dissertation, happy to have the afternoon to myself. He then asked me to pack the diaper bag, since I’d been going out with the baby and knew what he needed. The gall! I either did it or gave him a list, but was so angry because (I still thought he was moving in with us) the only reason I knew that was because I’d been doing all the work; I wanted him to catch up and be involved (until I found out later that I really didn’t want his decisions about the child or threats to hurt me physically).

    My mother did/does all of this work in the relationship. I don’t know if she got a break between his retirement and memory loss. I don’t see how people working full-time agree to do it, whether their partner is working or not).

  33. ” Done and not my problem works for me.”

    Me too. This is so key. Same with DS. There are agreed-upon standards for certain things, but everything doesn’t have to be done the way I would have done it. There is good enough.

    @Kerri – Your comment about your mom being relieved that her husband stood by her during breast cancer treatment is just heartbreaking.

    What I tend to see among my GenX friends/acquaintances is more wanting their husband to be a mind reader (e.g., not having to explicitly ask) and yet also to do things exactly the same way that they themselves would do it. Which is a recipe for disaster, IMHO. I think maybe that is what you are saying with “not wanting to tell their husbands what they need” but also veering into micromanaging.

  34. Temp Handle @ 11:11 – what the hell is he doing with a household password you don’t have access to?

  35. Apparently husbands unable to deal and ditching their wives in that situation was a thing in her cohort. She was genuinely terrified he would leave her.

    What the fuck is wrong with people?

  36. “@Kerri – Your comment about your mom being relieved that her husband stood by her during breast cancer treatment is just heartbreaking.”

    I meant to comment on this. Omg. Makes me want to cry.

  37. “Part of Rhett’s point is that the wife explicitly said she was upset he didn’t do it the way she wanted him to (get recommendations, call a bunch and compare prices, etc). He got one price and asked her if she was okay with it (I’m guessing she approves all the spending) and she got annoyed that she didn’t do it exactly how she would have done it.”

    Bingo.

  38. When my kid was diagnosed, I remember the social worker sitting down with us and telling us that many of the parents ended up getting divorces during treatment. I was appalled, and still am, that she would inform of us of this little factoid at a moment like that, but later I realized there was truth in what she was saying. And sadly, the dynamic always seems to be that the dad panics, can’t handle the demands, and leaves. It seems more to happen with younger parents. So, you can think this story reflects on an older generation, but it really doesn’t

  39. Temp handle, next time you are leaving early and the lights still aren’t on, wake him up a d tell him to turn them on for you.

  40. No, Ivy, it was the husband who was objecting because it was too expensive even though he hadn’t bothered to see if he could get a better price. That was the issue. To me, it is just common sense that if you think a price is too expensive, you call a couple more options. The husband didn’t seem to have that level of common sense.

  41. It isn’t just that she wanted him to find a cleaning service according to some arcane procedure. She wanted him to do the damn thing, get it out of her hair. Coming back at her with a price throws it back in her court. He could ask friends the way Scarlett thinks the wife should have, or called multiple services, or taken out an ad and chosen the best response he got. All of those probably would’ve been fine. But he refused to do any more than you could ask a middle school aged child to do, which is just rude.

  42. I think a lot of this stuff boils down to what’s said in this paragraph and not wanting to seem like a bad mom, daughter in law, and wife. Whereas guys don’t think like that very much. Not zero, just not very much.

    “If I were to point out random emotional labor duties I carry out—reminding him of his family’s birthdays, carrying in my head the entire school handbook and dietary guidelines for lunches, updating the calendar to include everyone’s schedules, asking his mother to babysit the kids when we go out, keeping track of what food and household items we are running low on, tidying everyone’s strewn about belongings, the unending hell that is laundry—”

    and the idea that she, and often other women including DW, want their (male) partners’* brains to work the same way as theirs do (e.g. not having to be asked to do something as obvious as put away the wrapping paper that was cluttering some space).

    We split up the preliminary legwork on some things (she runs the housekeeping operations, I deal with service people for e.g. who’s going to redo the deck/roof, mow our lawn, etc., and setting up specific appts with plumbers/electricians/HVAC).

    * is the same dynamic present in lesbian couples?

  43. Mooshi, how is this any different from what you or I did?

    He went off to college and then 20-something singledom, but never had to be very accountable (as a 20-something)

  44. “I deal with service people for e.g. who’s going to redo the deck/roof, mow our lawn, etc., and setting up specific appts with plumbers/electricians/HVAC”

    My husband will do this, but only if I tell him to.

  45. S&M, I think a lot of girls learn the planning skills by shadowing their moms as teens. Boys don’t learn that. And it is worse for older guys because they came from an era where boys were really not asked to be part of the household in the same way girls were. Maybe it will get better with younger guys

  46. “Temp handle, next time you are leaving early and the lights still aren’t on, wake him up a d tell him to turn them on for you.”

    ITA!

    Fred, there’s been a lot written about roles in LGBTQ relationships. Short answer–sometimes it’s like this, sometimes it isn’t.

  47. The husband didn’t seem to have that level of common sense.

    I think it’s more that he just doesn’t care.

    You’re situation is obviously complicated by your son’s ADHD. But without the ADHD an argument could be made (perhaps not a good one) that it’s not your responsibility to worry about all that stuff. I think that’s part of the issue. If you never let him fall flat on his face then he’s just going to segway right into having his wife/girlfriend do it all. Again, your situation is complicated by the ADHD so that’s a major factor that makes my point somewhat irrelevant to your exact situation.

  48. I recognized and researched the sex difference in willingness to deal with a spouse’s cancer/disability in my early 20’s, when my IL’s were dealing with his terminal cancer, and I’m not aware it has changed. How much of this is male brain and how much of it is the ready availability of alternative partners for middle aged men with ailing spouses is unclear.

    We are hitting the age where men we know are dumping/have dumped their wives, sometimes associated with illness/disability. Yet another area in which gender equality has not yet been reached.

  49. And to the common sense comment. If you can get someone else to do it who is the one lacking common sense? The one slaving away or the one who’s relaxing in his comfy chair?

  50. And if it’s not obvious I’m just playing the devils advocate. I certainly don’t think these passive aggressive mind games are they way to a long happy marriage.

  51. I would say that if he didn’t do it because he didn’t care, there are much deeper issues in their marriage. Keep in mind this was supposed to be a gift.

  52. Mooshi, I guess that makes sense. My sisters were close to my mom (I never was), but I don’t think either of them did the “shadowing” any more than I did. In both families, I think the husbands have taken on a lot of this role, even if my sisters might be doing more of the actual work (and Idk if they are). It comes up when they have a beer and joke with each other about women from our family. I was startled that before my nephew’s wedding, my BiL said to my sister “your pedicure the day before? Are you crazy? What if they botch it up or something?” I couldn’t decide if I was most upset that he’d speak to her that way, that he thought her toenails (and not, say, her loving memories or advice or something else) were of major importance in her presence, or that he was in “her” business. I didn’t say anything.

  53. I think a lot of it is personality. DH is an organized guy and part of his job is project management. Did he learn this as a kid? I have no idea. He seems like he was good at jumping through hoops in MS/HS and all that stuff that comes up on this blog. His parents sure as hell didn’t hold his hand through anything – including the college application/search process or the job hunt post-college. The 20-something guys that work for me have been, by and large, not living in a chaotic state from any evidence I have, but they are people who chose the field of Finance/Accounting for a career.

    “Temp Handle @ 11:11 – what the hell is he doing with a household password you don’t have access to?”

    This too. DH sometimes has to ask me which password we are using for which account because I handle bill-paying and savings/investments, but he has access to everything.

  54. This is the wife’s side of the story – so did he say “Is this too expensive” worrying that she would nit pick that he didn’t do a “good enough” job at hiring the cleaning service if he just followed through without confirming, or was he being petty/passive-aggressive and trying to get out of it, or what. There are a lot of options.

    The dynamic and expectations here were set up for failure from the beginning, I think.

    “How much of this is male brain and how much of it is the ready availability of alternative partners for middle aged men with ailing spouses is unclear.”

    Oh, I think it’s clear enough that the latter is a big driver. You’re right about that!

  55. If I were to point out random emotional labor duties I carry out—reminding him of his family’s birthdays, carrying in my head the entire school handbook and dietary guidelines for lunches, updating the calendar to include everyone’s schedules, asking his mother to babysit the kids when we go out, keeping track of what food and household items we are running low on, tidying everyone’s strewn about belongings, the unending hell that is laundry—

    I cannot even with this list. Why is she taking on so much in the first place? THIS is where I get frustrated with the premise of the article.

    And I won’t do it with my kids, either. One of ours was going on a 4 day trip a few weeks ago, and asked me to “help” him pack. I don’t know where that came from, because I haven’t packed my kids for trips in 3 years. I said I would not help him, because I knew he could do it, but I’d be glad to sit down and help him make out a list first. He said no (because what he really wanted was for me to do the packing). 3 hours later he came back and asked if I could actually go over a list with him after all. THAT I am willing to do. We typed one up (and I made him do the initial list himself, and then I suggested somethings he had left off), saved it for next time, printed it, and then he got himself packed.

    Another example: today my youngest is on a field trip. For field trips, you can either bring your lunch from home, or the school will give you a brown bag to take with you. You have to fill out a form early in the week indicating what you are going to do. I will not engage on this issue. If they want to bring a lunch from home for a field trip, fine – they can do so and pack it. If they don’t want to do that, it’s up to them to fill out the form and turn it in. DS filled out the form for a brown bag and turned it in, and told me this morning that’s what he had done. And that’s what he SHOULD do. Why on earth would I need to be involved in that?

  56. I have handled most of this type of administrative work and household organizing throughout my 42+ year marriage. I am less inclined to nag my husband concerning organizing clothing. He has clothes going back 20 to 25 years in his closet and drawers. I have offered to clean out his old clothes and organize the closet and drawers – refused. I said fine but I am no longer putting away his clean clothes as it was hurting my hands to try to squeeze more clothes in the closet and drawers. I hang and fold his clean clothes and leave them on the bed for him to put away. Occasionally he gets rid of some old clothing when it becomes impossible to shove anymore in the closet.

    About five years ago, my husband bit…. and moaned about Verizon. I talked to Comcast, told my husband what they were offering and we switched. He was even more unhappy with them and blamed me for switching. I switched back. He has been moaning and groaning about Verizon again and suggested I look into the alternative and I told him no. Told him he made me miserable for 3 months last time and I wasn’t getting involved. Knock himself out!

    Next big fight will be over the amount of crap he is hoarding and we need to clean out before we can sell this house and move when he retires.

  57. @Lark – I love your approach, and it is the one that I try to take too. Especially since the stakes at this point are pretty low. Over the summer, DS forgot his water bottle for a field trip & he did not end up in the hospital with dehydration. Not my problem to track these things and remind him f100 times. When he was really struggling with remembering anything, I did teach him how to set reminders with Siri, and we’ve talked about setting things up the night before for the morning, etc. He’s gotten MUCH better at not forgetting things for school.

    We are in charge of gifts/cards for our own families. Exception – I get the invite for wedding/baby showers for his side of the family since this is a “woman” thing. So, if the invite has only my name on it, I handle the gift.

  58. “reminding him of his family’s birthdays, ”

    This I do not do. In fact, if it has to do with DH’S family, I expect him to deal with it. But… there is a problem. Even though I have held to this for as long as I have known him, his sisters still contact ME when they are planning things. I always politely forward the email to DH, so he can ignore it. Then sisters start frantically reminding me – we haven’t RSVP’ed for the July picnic, or whatever. No matter how many times I tell them that I am passing the request to my DH, they just can’t wrap their heads around the idea that their own brother can communicate with them.

    I also do not pack for the two older kids, or even make lists with them, I tell them how many days the trip is for. If it is complicated, like going overseas, we will discuss a little more. But that is it. With the youngest, I do the packing still, because otherwise she would end up bringing 10 stuffed animals, 3 costumes, and some books, but no underwear or shirts.

  59. Regarding the password – We used to have some standard ones, but as sites require more detailed passwords and make you change them more often, we have fallen into the pattern of the person who handles that “thing” manages the password to access it. It typically isn’t a big deal, we just tell the other person.

    This “light problem” started out as him getting upset that outside lights were always being turned off/on in the front by random things – small animals (specifically the skunk that when startled by the light does leave a strong odor), passing dog walkers late at night, even some cars – and he felt we were wasting money and was tired of periodically smelling skunk. He wanted to put in a system that handled lights (some go on/off automatically) and the outside camera (what turns it on/off and how long to retain the data). This is not a priority for me, so he handled it and he agreed that managing it was one of his jobs, which generally means he has to manage the password. I didn’t really even think about the password or the fact that I really have no idea how this system works until he started dragging his feet about changing the time.

  60. No, go back and read – HE said it was too expensive. I guess I would have, at that point, given him a little more direction (kind of like I do with my 17 year old) and said “go call 3 more services, and ask our neighbor Sue, and see if you get comparable prices” . Maybe her mistake was that she needed to break it up into smaller steps for him.

    This is the point – you want him to do it your way. It’s quite likely that the price he got is around the going rate. She should have just told him to book it.

    DW and I had a similar thing this week. The snowstorm knocked a bunch of big branches off our tree. She said we should call someone to trim the tree. I didn’t think we really need to, but I told her she can go ahead and look into it. She got an estimate and said it seems reasonable to her for what they said they will do. I think it’s a little high (my usual MO is to get three bids and take the one in the middle), but she’s satisfied, so if I want more bids it’s up to me to get them, I can’t tell her to do it. I decided it’s not worth my time so I told her to schedule it.

  61. “Temp Handle @ 11:11 – what the hell is he doing with a household password you don’t have access to?”

    This

    DH can’t seem to crack the code I use for passwords, even though all the kids could do by the time they hit double digits in age, but I would never not tell him a password. And yes, I have told him the code/system for setting up passwords.

  62. The couple in the article seem determined to be miserable with each other. She is mad because he did’t follow her procedure to find a cleaner. He made a weak effort, decided the cost was too much and didn’t follow through. They both seem to be playing passive aggressive games to prove the other one was “wrong”. What an awful way to live.

  63. Ivy/Lark, one thing that helped me nudge my son in that direction was telling him in middle school that he got one delivery of lunch, homework, gym clothes, whatever per month. At first it was a tough limit, then he met it, tapered off, and he rarely needs anything now. Today he asked me to come in for the first time this year. A teacher had given him a birthday cake, and he wanted me to get it and bring it home. I told him I’d come during lunch. Lo and behold, lunchtime came & he said not to come. I’m hoping that he had a social hour, eating it with friends. He has recently told me that he wants to shift back to his old track because he misses those kids. 😃😃😃

  64. I realized that DH just hated what he saw as nagging but I saw as reminding. Two different ways of looking at the same thing. I backed off and let him handle his share of the tasks as he sees fit. By the same token he doesn’t complain at the way I do things.

  65. Here is how that scenario would have gone down in our house for me to get the “gift” the woman in the article requested.
    Him: What do you want for Mother’s Day?
    Me: I want you to hire a house cleaner to clean ….list of musts…and I do not want to be involved in the finding, scheduling, negotiating the rate, or paying of this house cleaner. If the house cleaner needs supplies laid out or purchased in advance or certain chores done that do not involve MY personal belongings, I want you to handle laying out or purchasing them and you to do any prep chores without my involvement. In addition, if the house cleaner comes when there are children at home, I do not want to be responsible for watching the children. Completing this entire process without involving me is the important part of this gift.

    Maybe this is passive aggressive, but we agreed to take a family cruise over the Christmas holiday. He asked me what he should pack. I told him that there would be 1-2 formal dinners, if we chose to go, any specific things based on the excursions we book, and clothes for on board. His response was OK, but what should he pack. I told him to use the google, look at the cruise’s website and to talk to his friends who have been before.

  66. I run things in to my kids if they forget. I also bring things to my husband and remind him of events. They do the same for me. I am not a competent enough person to be completely self sufficient. I don’t think I married or gave birth to entirely competent people either. We all have our strengths and weaknesses. I am fortunate in that DH takes care of the really unpleasant tasks around the house and I deal with the less awful ones. I am also fortunate in that he thinks that shopping and cooking and managing a calendar are important and hard.

    It is supremely unfair to ask someone to do a task and then berate them for not doing it exactly as you would. It is also unproductive because no one will try to do the task after a while.

    I have been surprised for years in real life about people (mostly women) grousing about how their partners handle chores and daily life. The husbands I know in real life are not incompetent nor are they unable to learn. But I do see they wives acting as if they can’t figure out how to change a diaper, pick up a child, fix a meal, etc. I also seem this constant meme that boys are less competent than girls, which is detrimental to both girls and boys. I wonder if the two issues are related.

  67. Ivy/Lark, one thing that helped me nudge my son in that direction was telling him in middle school that he got one delivery of lunch, homework, gym clothes, whatever per month.

    My dear children don’t get nudges, they get brick walls. I have NEVER EVER delivered a forgotten item to school. Not even when it was a computer and the child ran the risk of detention. (He went promptly to his advisor, confessed his absentmindedness, and it was fine, of course.) The stakes are so very low at this age – so what if he gets a detention, or as happened last week, the other one has to confess to his coach for forgetting a uniform. I drop them off at school, and then I go to work. I do not run a delivery service.

    There are many, many things I do not do right. As the result of our excellent cleaning woman, they do not do enough chores to really learn how to take care of a house, and I am bothered by this. But “managing” them stopped around 3rd grade for DH and me, with a hard stop at 4th grade.

  68. Maybe this is passive aggressive, but we agreed to take a family cruise over the Christmas holiday. He asked me what he should pack. I told him that there would be 1-2 formal dinners, if we chose to go, any specific things based on the excursions we book, and clothes for on board. His response was OK, but what should he pack. I told him to use the google, look at the cruise’s website and to talk to his friends who have been before.

    Perhaps this is result of growing up with many brothers, but DH often asks what he should wear and I tell him. My brothers and I will still confer about what to wear to family functions. I need to generate a list for what I need when I am going somewhere, my kids do that as well. I also generally pack for DH.

    What tasks do your partners take on/or would you wish them to take on so that you would be ok/happy with taking on the tasks that they don’t want to do.

    DH deals with all household repair except for appliances and with all dead stuff. I am so totally ok with packing, most of the shopping and cooking, bill paying, passwords, because I don’t deal with dead/icky stuff.

  69. “If I were to point out random emotional labor duties I carry out—reminding him of his family’s birthdays, carrying in my head the entire school handbook and dietary guidelines for lunches, updating the calendar to include everyone’s schedules, asking his mother to babysit the kids when we go out, keeping track of what food and household items we are running low on, tidying everyone’s strewn about belongings, the unending hell that is laundry—

    I cannot even with this list. Why is she taking on so much in the first place? THIS is where I get frustrated with the premise of the article.”

    This list is so spot on. It is exactly what DH assumed I would take care of (along with the babies, my job, drycleaning and a gazillion other things.) Why? Because he was raised in a Latin household, is the oldest and only boy and his mom did all of this for her spouses.

    After the umpteenth major argument, DH finally got it. We each handle our own family’s stuff. the rest of the stuff we do together or outsource.

  70. MM mentioned “training” our spouses… the thing is, that should start right away. Inadvertently I did this before we were married. We were living together and I (stupidly) agreed to do all the household things… I had the longer commute and longer workday, so in effect I was at full speed from 6a to 11p. No time for DH. About 3 months in I ended up in a heap on the floor having a breakdown. DH offered to do the dishes and the laundry and split the cleaning. We held that pattern until my mom moved in with us. (We are still adjusting who does what based on the needs of our family).

    The past two months DH and my mom have taken on everything you can think of. Between my father’s death and pneumonia, I couldn’t do a damn thing. I still struggle with simple tasks. It’s like my brain has completely forgot how to be a person, let alone an adult. I manage the bare minimum in everything. I know I’ll get better eventually, but it kills me that I physically and emotionally can’t do anything. And I feel doubly terrible because I don’t think my mom has dealt (or started to deal with) my father’s death. She’s been my mom first, and I fear she won’t let herself heal. 2017 will go down as the year the Rhodes barely survived.

    One good thing – we are all too tired to be passive aggressive. We’ve all gotten very blunt – these are the things that need to be done, you do A, you do B, and I’ll do C. Our low expectations have also helped – everyone fed, watered, and made it through the day with minimal damage? Yup. It’s a good day.

  71. ” I am no longer putting away his clean clothes”

    DW will do the laundry, gather from hamper(s), sort/separate, wash, dry, fold ALL her choice btw, but the clothes’ owner has to put them away. (I’m happy to do any/all of the laundry and I’m smart enough to at least separate whites from darks and “delicates”, of which I own none but someone else does, dry/fold/hang appropriately but I have not yet been hired for that job).

  72. A guy I work with recently said he was “playing Mr. Mom and babysitting his daughter the week his wife was out of town.” It took a lot for me to bite my tongue and not beat him over the head.

  73. Mooshi: Have your DH and DS take over all college stuff. All of it.

    I assign broad spheres of influence and get out of the way. i.e. DH takes care of all doctor appointments. I do a lot more of the emotional labor, but I don’t mind it. If DH does what I assign him, I am happy.

  74. @Austin

    No, no. That’s not passive-aggressive at all. That is clearly stating what you are and are not willing to do & your expectations.

    From The Google:
    “Passive-aggressiveness, as the word indicates, is a tendency to engage in indirect expression of hostility through acts such as subtle insults, sullen behavior, stubbornness, or a deliberate failure to accomplish required tasks.”

  75. Pseudo – I would be happy if he just did the chores/tasks he agrees to do and for those with a deadline, by the deadline. I have completely refolded everything in the linen closet to the way he folds things so they quit falling out. I really don’t care how they are folded, but hated them falling every time I opened the door and having to refold them from the floor just to shut the door. I am happy to provide lists – when he first took over grocery shopping, I made him an envelope of labels of the few things that were important to me, so he could match up the items – like buying a deodorant and laundry soap that doesn’t make me break out in a rash.

    On the what to pack – if he had engaged in more discussion like: what do they mean by formal? will my black pants and sports coat be sufficient? do you think I need more than one bathing suit? , I would have been more likely to have engaged in a discussion. In contrast, it felt as though he was trying to transfer all the “work” of figuring out what he should to me.

  76. I am asked by my kids to remind them of things which I do. I can’t bring anything to school because I am at work. The rule is to unpack their backpacks and bring anything that requires my attention as soon as they get it. I do like anything dumped on me in the morning as we rush out the door.
    I do a quick turnaround so they have it back before the deadline.
    Now a days I forward any parental reminders that the school send straight to the kids email.

  77. Do people not realize that to get help they have to ask? I’m embarrassed to say how long that took me to learn, and I still forget.

    It’s something I’ve been trying to teach DS1. He gets frustrated with something and just before he goes to throw it, I ask “do you need help?” “Ask mommy for help. It’s OK.” I’d like him to initiate, but “help” is a hard word for him to say, and he’s such a stubborn kid that he wants to do it by himself.

  78. Some people are not built for details and don’t have great executive function.

    But I think the girls who don’t have great executive function get the message over and over that they’re expected to be organized and together, and by adulthood get to a respectable level of organization. There’s not the same level of tolerance for a woman to be the absent-minded professor type.

  79. “Mooshi: Have your DH and DS take over all college stuff. All of it.”

    I think that would be really unfair and setting them up for failure. First, I think the task is too big for one adult. I have been handing over discrete tasks, like the FAFSA, for that reason. And it is way too big for a 17 year old. I could never have done this at 17. It was way easier in my day, and my mother helped me a lot (not my father – tellingly, he was clueless)

    But more importantly, it would be unfair because my husband has no experience with this. He applied to one college, the same one his sisters went to, and which accepted most kids in the state back in those days. It was even easier for him than me – no financial aid forms at all. The school was so cheap that everyone could afford it. His sisters did the same, his nephews and nieces didn’t go to college, and his BILs didn’t go to college. His parents didn’t go to college. So he has nothing to fall back on.

  80. Mooshi: Many kids apply for colleges on their own. My parents didn’t help me and my friends didn’t get help either. Your DH and DS can learn about the process together.

  81. My oldest’s kid’s school won’t let you drop stuff off if they forget. They are really big in to letting the kids deal with the consequences in an environment where the stakes are very low.

  82. I would have been more likely to have engaged in a discussion. In contrast, it felt as though he was trying to transfer all the “work” of figuring out what he should to me.

    Ughh. Has he always done this? Or is it new?

  83. There are some single female engineers who are the absent-minded professor types. That may be part of why they’re single.

    I wonder how much of the “transition to shared household duties” is a generational thing. Will the expectation that household duties are shared be more common in the next generation? On this blog, there are many dual professional couples, but of the people with married kids (Meme, RMS, not sure about Old Mom), it seems that dual professional couples are not the expected norm, just one of a few options. It will be interesting to see what happens over the next decades.

    On e-mail, DS1 got e-mail at 10 and that seems like it will be a standard around our house. He e-mails with my stepmom periodically and it’s cool that they’re developing a relationship. My Dad doesn’t type, so e-mail isn’t a good way to maintain that connection.

  84. Kerri – 13 and 11. Set up mostly because I want to hit the forward button on all those school parental reminders. Older one has class reminder app and the usual access to schoolwork and grades online.

  85. The other thing my kid’s school does that I really like is refuse to tell parents what the homework is. The teachers aren’t allowed to post it on their websites and there is no mechanism for parents to check on it except the teacher will indicate each week if the student had completed all of it. We occasionally get emails explaining bigger projects that require some parent help, but they leave the day to day up to the kids to manage. Including things, for example, like contributing $ to hurricane relief efforts. The kids were told they were doing this and had to figure out how to get some $. Parents didn’t find out about it after the fact.

  86. WCE and Louise – thanks. I’m sure we’ll be dealing with phones and email soon, but hopefully not too soon. (I think they probably have email via their apple ID/Ipads but don’t know it.)

  87. A guy I work with recently said he was “playing Mr. Mom and babysitting his daughter the week his wife was out of town.” It took a lot for me to bite my tongue and not beat him over the head.

    You should have. That drives me crazy.

    When DS was about a year old, I took him to NY to visit my family. Everyone was shocked that DW “let me” take him and trusted me enough. Nobody would ever say that if a mom takes a child somewhere on her own.

  88. MM, the college application process is nothing like it was BITD, so your DH is not really at a disadvantage there. It’s hardest with the first kid, but it really isn’t rocket science. If something happened to you, he would figure it out because at that point he would have no choice. If it makes more sense for your family that you take the lead oar in this area, nothing wrong with that. We all have our highest and best uses.

  89. I heard once that there was a study about long-married couples and the biggest attribute to their longevity. The hypothesis was that they worked through their issues, but they found out that really they just stopped fighting about the things that annoyed them and accepted it. I think that’s where I’m at. There are things that I find super annoying about how household work (chores not childcare) gets divided, but I’ve given up on the fights…well, except when I’m yelling in my head about certain things.

    DH is awesome with anything child related for their school and activities. He keeps the mental stuff related to homework much more in his head than I do. When other moms complain about their husbands and childcare, I feel like I’m more like their husbands than the moms. But I do almost all of the cleaning, cooking, shopping, and finances. DH and I have argued about it but he truly thinks we are pretty equally split. I find it maddening at times, but not worth getting divorced over. And to be fair, I probably do discount some of the stuff he does.

    Today I’m going to go get him a new cell phone. I guess because I love him and this is a chore that falls on my list. I’m pretty sure I’ll be stabby later today, because I also hate going shopping for cell phones. When he needed a new car, I did all of the research and negotiating for it. He wanted no part of it other than narrowing it down to a 4-door sedan, preferably hybrid. When I went to the dealership to get it the dealer asked if I wanted to test drive it. I said no as it wasn’t for me and if DH didn’t like it then too f-ing bad. He likes the car.

  90. Birdie – Same at my kids’ new school. They have a planner where they have to write down the assignments and that is it. So far we’re already dealing with homework being done but not handed in (?!?) and forgetting homework assignments because it wasn’t written down and they didn’t remember it. The teachers do note in the planner if an assignment was missed, which the parent must initial, so the parent isn’t totally in the dark.

  91. Lark, judging from what a responsible little preschooler/1st/second grader he was, DS probably could’ve handled that much earlier, but the pile-up of “extenuating circumstances” got to be too much and he crashed.

  92. Mooshi: Many kids apply for colleges on their own. My parents didn’t help me and my friends didn’t get help either. Your DH and DS can learn about the process together.

    Yeah, I don’t see where it’s really any harder than when we were that age, and if anything, it’s easier because you can do it all online. I did all my college apps completely on my own. Obviously FAFSA and financial stuff requires parental involvement, but the extent of my parents’ help was writing the checks.

    Of course I’ll give assistance to my kids if and when they need it, but I expect that they will be able to handle filling out applications on their own. If they can’t, I would question their readiness for college.

  93. they just stopped fighting about the things that annoyed them and accepted it.

    This+1000. I can continue to get POed at DW for not cleaning the crap off the counter, or I can accept that she’s never going to do it because it genuinely doesn’t bother her and she doesn’t notice. So I just organize it so it’s mostly out of the way and it doesn’t bother me so much.

  94. Mooshi – If forced to do it I’m sure DH and your son could handle the college application process. But, it seems this is something you really want to get right (and may know more about given your profession), so totally makes sense to me that you would be reluctant to outsource it. The problem is when everything falls into that bucket. Keep the college stuff but push something less important (to you) onto your DH’s and son’s to do lists. You son’s future spouse will thank you and you might enjoy your DH taking over a task..

  95. Mooshi: Have your DH and DS take over all college stuff. All of it.

    That would never work, they just don’t care enough. Mr. MM may be wrong to not care, as MM pointed out things are a lot different these days.

  96. WCE, I’m not an engineer, but otherwise, I probably match with those women you mention. I seriously don’t see why I’d want a “partner” who is actually another burden like a child, but will never grow out of it the way my child is.

    Kerri, my DS set up his own email around 4th or 5th grade. His school doesn’t email, so it’d be useless to set one up for that reason. There are weekly calls to parents, a website where teachers post grades, etc for students, and text messages.

    Rhode, heartbreaking how early boys get these messages about “real men” not asking for help, isn’t it? I’m glad you’ve asked for, and received, the help you need. You are a long, hard road. I’m glad you are supported, and you and your mom can lean on each other.

    Birdie, what a hellish nightmare for kids dealing with any kind of emotional or learning disorder!! Is this a public school? Does the school generally brush off any differences between kids’ brains as “weakness” or fake?

    MM, you seem fine with a relationship that would drive me batty. If staying involved in and managing the college app process works for you, I see no reason for you to foist it onto DS and DH.

  97. The other thing my kid’s school does that I really like is refuse to tell parents what the homework is.

    That sounds like a swell system so long as, when your child doesn’t do the homework, the teacher / school isn’t then reaching out to let you know that the child isn’t doing the homework and expecting you to do something about it. But if they are having the parent initial a planner daily and emailing to tell you that the big project is due in three days and child hasn’t yet turned in his brainstorm sheet, outline, or two drafts, then by golly they should not leave the parents having to draw out details of what it is that’s due in three days through a search of all the crumpled papers in the backpack and a tense discussion with a child who just says “I’ve been working on it in class!”

  98. The college application process – I admire the way Totebaggers are so organized. We have to my mind an element of haphazardness. I feel other Totebaggers research and document every single thing like a personal Consumer report. All our choices have worked so far but feels it we wing it.

  99. HM – and of course in your fable it’s the mom following up with the kid.

    I’m afraid my kids are learning the lesson that “as long as I do well on the tests who cares about the homework”. And yet, am I really afraid that’s what they’re learning? Isn’t that actually smart laziness?

  100. Louise, repeating myself here–your kids are neurotypical, so you have a great deal more leeway on the college application process than many of us. Don’t make it harder than it has to be!

  101. We used to bicker more about this, because I really do carry around a lot of the menial tasks (doctors and dentists, gutter cleaning, etc.). However, DH has his domains as does fine in them (I haven’t paid a bill in years.). What finally ended the argument was a focus on outcomes not inputs. We agree that we both should have the same opportunity to get enough sleep, pursue hobbies, exercise, have child-free time. Some times “same opportunity” means “very limited” – but at least it’s equal. I have less required working hours outside the home that he does, so I end up doing more around the home, and I feel pretty good about it. I do think if I told him I wanted to be done with school lunches, meal planning and grocery shopping, and cooking, he would take it on – but expect that I would pick up something else around the house (filling out the tax planner, shudder).

    Anyway, we have a priority list that includes kid and required house stuff at the top, self care in the middle (sleep, exercise), and discretionary activities (killing all the undead things that need to be killed on the PlayStation) and the bottom. Nobody gets to do anything on a lower level until everything on the upper level is done.

  102. “I think the task is too big for one adult.”

    MM – I beg to disagree. Or maybe I’m just really tuned into the process because I’ve shepherded 3 (well, really 2…DS2 did almost all the work himself except for the FAFSA, more on that item later) kids thru it. Just not that hard.

    FAFSA – my biggest issue is remembering the usernames and passwords but now I’ve written them down so anyone can steal them and access my stuff. The online form is pretty simple.

  103. they just stopped fighting about the things that annoyed them

    How true – also there is less to fight about, kids are out of the house and on their own, parents are no longer alive and you just settle into a routine that has been years in the making.

    My husband and I can exchange a few key words in minutes that is a very shortened version of what was a knock down prolonged fight years ago – sometimes we have to rehash old issues but are too lazy to really get in it.

  104. So, it’s not all rainbows and roses over here. Our system is falling apart right now because the Au Pair has gently and slowly begun neglecting all of her household tasks (overwhelming laziness? short-timer’s syndrome? depression at the thought of leaving our little nest of perfect?). So there are a lot of kid related tasks that are going undone or bitterly done by me. (Kid laundry, room cleaning, play room and car tidying). I’m a terrible manager, and hate confrontation, so I have painted myself into this corner. She is defensive and sullen, so avoidance is really the path of least resistance. She is affectionate with kids, responsible as a child care provider and self-centered enough to not notice my seething anger.

    6 more weeks.

  105. @DD – yes, and I think also – pick your battles. DH likes to be early for certain things, whereas as I more likely to show up right on time to 5 minutes late. I have learned to go along with being early because changing my ways a little bit is not that big of a deal to me, but it is a big deal to him. Even though I secretly still think he is slightly insane. ;) He’s done that with me too – changed something to suit my quirks. It just doesn’t work when one person is doing all the adjusting and changing and “living with it”.

  106. HM – that fable is (still, with no kids at home) on our 6′ x 6′ bulletin board right next to the kitchen table!

  107. Old Mom, reading your comments is like looking into my future. My Dad and Stepmom cut straight to the good part. No money worries, no kid worries, no overcommitment worries, no in-law worries. They drove 6 hr each way to where my stepbrother teaches at a mission school to participate in Grandparents’ Day for his foster son, but that’s because of our family’s general idea of “family duties” that they share.

  108. Fred – I used to keep them all in a little notebook, but more recently I have taken to forwarding the “Welcome to Blablablah!” email to myself with a note listing the username if different from my email, and either the password or, more often, a password hint (like if I used variations on Gauguin as my pw for all art-related sites the hint would be “Art password, no cap one digit special char” and that would mean gauguin1! ). Then when I need my Blablablah password I can just search in my email for “Blablablah password” and my note to self will show up.

  109. I think I mentioned long ago that there was one girl in DS’s class who was giving him instructions on what to do in class. She is back in his orbit, in some of his classes. No instructions to him now but I was chuckling recalling her instructions.

  110. I don’t nag my DH because we don’t have that type of relationship. By the time we got married, he was already in his mid 30s, and he was already doing everything on his own. I never pack for him, and I rarely buy his clothes etc.

    I do have some unpleasant conversations with DD about stuff that she isn’t doing and then she gets angry, or she finally motivates and takes care of it. I went to a screening of a new documentary last night called Angst. It was made by the same filmmaker that produced Screenagers, but I thought this was a better documentary. The film was a good reminder of how much our kids actually DO get done everyday, and how the parts of their brains that deal with some of the chores and organization really are not fully developed until their early 20s. Some of this nagging is necessary because it does help them create the pathways in their brain to get repetitive tasks done. Taking out the garbage is an example of this….we might think they’re lazy, but they just have to be taught to do this so that the pathways are formed. Obviously, if they still don’t remember to take out the garbage, then the nagging and fighting are going to set it.

    The film was really about teens and preteens/anxiety. It was very good, and I recommend it if a screening pops up in your town.

  111. Louise, there was a girl friend who tried to keep my oldest on task in middle school, but sadly he proved resistant. And for that matter some of the girls involved my my youngest’s science stuff will seriously get on his case if he’s not together, or is late for something.

  112. “your kids have email? How old are they?”

    My kids’ school started assigning laptops to the kids in 4th grade, and that included giving them school email addresses.

    A lot of DD’s friends had iPhones well before that. I’m not sure, but my guess is they got their own email addresses when they got their phones.

  113. “If you never let him fall flat on his face then he’s just going to segway right into having his wife/girlfriend do it all.”

    This conjures an interesting mental image.

    Segway:

  114. “I am asked by my kids to remind them of things which I do.”

    I believe you meant, “I am asked by my kids to remind them of things, which I do.” I’ve added the comma to make clearer what I think you meant.

    When I first read it, I thought, what great kids, they appreciate all the things which you do.

  115. HM — I also like your PW trick. My H NEVER remembers PWs for house/family stuff. Not for our Google calendars. Not even for investment accounts and banks. Not even when I’ve set up accounts for him for these things. He’s made it way too easy for me to drain our accounts and run off with the pool guy, if we had a pool guy. :)

  116. “When I first read it, I thought, what great kids, they appreciate all the things which you do.”

    That’s what I thought! “Dearest mother, please remind me again of all the wonderful things you do for me.”

  117. This thread makes me appreciate DW more.

    She is perfectly happy to walk away from the kitchen after dinner and let me clean it up as I see fit, or to toss her laundry into the hamper and not complain at all about how it shows up clean in our bedroom, or spend money and leave it to me to make sure the bills are all paid.

    None of this passive-aggressive resentment over how I do all this stuff.

  118. “I said fine but I am no longer putting away his clean clothes as it was hurting my hands to try to squeeze more clothes in the closet and drawers.”

    I can empathize. I’ve stopped putting away most of DW’s clean clothes because I don’t know where to put them, because she’s largely run out of space. So they get put into a laundry basket in our bedroom, and she’s taken to looking there first for stuff to wear.

  119. “he’s such a stubborn kid that he wants to do it by himself.”

    Wanting to do stuff for himself is a positive character trait. Combining that with a willingness to seek and accept help, which you can nurture, is an awesome combination.

  120. “Today I’m going to go get him a new cell phone.”

    Do you need to get him service too?

    Until we finally got DS an iPhone, I’d done all the shopping for the kids’ phones. I’d just look for the cheapest phone that worked with their voice and text only plans and buy that. DD’s current phone cost $25 from Best Buy, but it’s an android that could also work with a data/voice/text plan.

  121. “So far we’re already dealing with homework being done but not handed in (?!?) and forgetting homework assignments because it wasn’t written down and they didn’t remember it.”

    Sounds very familiar. Right, Mooshi?

  122. @Kerri – DS has had email for a couple years and his iPad is set up for iMessage as well. He uses it to communicate with his grandparents and aunts & uncles. He texts us too via iMessage. It really hasn’t been a problem at all at this point. I like that he has an independent way to communicate with family members, and I figure better to get him used to using those in a harmless, gradual way. Mostly – he ignores his email and prefers texting. Being a 9yo boy, he really doesn’t use either all that much.

    The other 4th grade boys don’t seem to interesting in communicating via phones – just playing games. Might be different for the girls. I don’t know. There is a social media parent enrichment seminar/discussion later this year that I’ll attend to hear what other parents at school are seeing – especially the kids just a little older.

  123. Well, this is timely. All I can say is despite the best-laid plans, this continues to be a significant issue for us. I think we started out with everything “right”: he was raised by a mom who had a professional career and took no $hit; I was raised by a mom who encouraged me to actively avoid stereotypical female expectations/behavior; we both had equivalent careers and professional demands; when we married, we had actual discussions about who was going to do what; neither one of us has ridiculous standards for precisely how things must be done; etc. And he’s the engineer who is awesome at keeping a gazillion things moving; I am the ADD one who gets seriously stressed from trying to do that. And yet, over time, and despite our repeated attempts at fairness, a lot of miscellaneous crap has devolved to be my responsibility.

    Part of the problem is when you realize down the road that you have different understandings of what that role is. E.g., I cook, he does dishes. I view my role as being responsible for the whole area of “meal preparation” — menu planning, grocery shopping, cooking, basically everything involved in getting food on the table. He, OTOH, views his role as “if you place the scraped dishes in the sink, I will put them in the dishwasher, run it, and put them away.” So the whole area of “clear the table and clean up and put food away” has gone unclaimed, because we each view it as outside our sphere.

    The other big part of the problem is that there are always things that you don’t think about assigning — and then who does those? Things like going through the mail, or when DD was struggling with the ADHD checking online to see if she had missed any assignments/checking homework status, dealing with cat stuff, doing school forms, keeping track of what needs to go with which kid when, etc. And then there’s my personal favorite: somehow, he believes I have transformed into Julie your Cruise Director, because every %^&$!$(! weekend, he asks me what we’re doing, if I want to go to dinner, where I want to go to dinner, etc. Meanwhile, he is the one with extremely low tolerance for butt-sitting — so, hey, if you default to me, maybe we’ll order Papa Johns and rent a movie. But then I get to deal with a pissy DH, because he’s bored.

    One thing I think folks have missed from the article is that you can get into situations like this even when both of you are trying very hard to make the other happy! When DH and I started to talk about our 50th birthday/20th anniversary party, we talked about a variety of options, big/small, home/restaurant, etc., and he kept pushing me to decide on the specific things I wanted. It came from a really good place — he really wanted me to be happy and for it to be a special night!! But I have limited tolerance for planning anyway, and work was extremely busy, so organizing even something as fun as a party became a huge weight. So I finally said, you know, what I really want is for you to figure out all of the party stuff. Don’t care where, don’t care the food, don’t care big/small or the guest list, I just want to NOT HAVE TO ORGANIZE IT. That made it really simple for him — he knew exactly what to do to make me happy! He dove in and planned the whole thing, and it was great!

    I suspect in the article, they were just talking past each other — she thought she was saying “I want you to ARRANGE someone to clean the house,” and he thought she was saying “I want you to arrange someone to CLEAN THE HOUSE.” So he thought he was getting her a double gift: I’m dedicating hours of my own time to give her something she really really wants, AND I’m saving money! Meanwhile, she totally blew off his efforts because in her mind, he had not cared enough to put in the effort to get her what she specifically asked for. The solution, of course, is to talk like grownups, and give some freaking credit for the effort: honey, I really appreciate the hours that you put into doing it yourself, but what I really wanted was to have a cleaner set up to come periodically, and not to have to do the research and figure that out myself. Would you mind doing that? And preferably doing that the FIRST time he says he’ll just do it himself! Being direct doesn’t always solve the problem, but passive-aggressive “disappointment” and frustration never gets you there.

  124. FAFSA is awful for two parents never married (to each other) living together and one parent doesn’t really want to disclose any financial information, but still wants child to get financial aid. Each FAFSA entry requires adding both parent’s information together and then entering in that block. No IRS download.

    In light of today’s discussion, I think this is coming to a head because due to financial decisions the reluctant discloser has made.

  125. “Meanwhile I am creating a spreadsheet of application deadlines for every college, and task lists, and lining up someone to read his essay with him, and writing out the parent brag sheet for the guidance counselor, and reminding the kid to get on the national merit website to find out what is needed to advance to finalist,”

    IMO, your DS1 should be doing the first two things himself; that’s what my DS did (it was made easier for us by his school creating a culture in which kids are expected to do those things themselves, and their teachers expect to have kids asking them to read their essays). IMO again, your role in those two, along with the NMF application process, is checking on his progress (but, of course, not nagging). The parent brag sheet is, by definition, for a parent to do, but you should get your DS1 to provide you inputs, and IMO, you should at least have your DH provide inputs and read it.

    “and at the same time remembering that I have to get the concerta refilled (which is an arcane process)”

    I know what a concerto is and what concerti are (I’m listening to the Paganini violin concerto on YouTube as I type this), but I wasn’t familiar with concerta and had to look it up.

  126. Oh, I forgot: I think DH may have just gotten a taste of this recently. Due to a number of circumstances that are too long and boring to relate, I recently told DH and the kids that I was going to need more help with stuff for the next few weeks, so e.g. if I didn’t get dinner on the table, they could make hot dogs, make dinner from stuff I had stashed in the fridge, or order takeout, whatever worked. I noticed all last weekend DH was pissy (he’s like a little kid who thinks mom won’t notice he’s robbed the cookie jar despite the crumbs and chocolate on his face — he never actually says anything negative, but he sulks silently all weekend and is short with the kids). So we talked, and, yeah, he was annoyed that he was having to cover all the extra stuff. And I immediately got pissed — because what, exactly, had he done? Over the course of 4-5 days, the “extra” stuff he covered was: (1) ordering takeout one night; (2) going through the mail pile and paying a couple of bills (which I had done the last umpteen times); and (3) signing DS up for rec basketball.

    And then I realized: a-ha! It’s not the specific stuff — he’s feeling the mental weight of knowing that I need him to be *responsible* for all of that stuff! Of course, I also told him that if there were specific things he’d like me to do, I’d make a point to find the time to do them — but now the shoe’s on the other foot, and he’s the one who needs to ask me if I can take a particular thing off his plate to “help out.” And then all of the stuff he’s responsible for isn’t predictable, isn’t on a calendar, isn’t something you can write in to know when, say, DS is going to get an infected bug bite and need to go to the urgent care (last night). So DH is on edge because he isn’t quite sure what he’s going to need to do when, but he knows he’s on tap for whatever it is, whenever it is, no matter how tired he is — all on top of his day job.

    And, yes, we did talk again afterwards and straighten things out, and he has not been pissy since, (knock on wood) — and I’m making an effort NOT to actually leave him responsible for everything. But maybe he’ll understand a bit more next time I talk about the mental weight of being the default “person in charge of home stuff.” :-)

  127. “they found out that really they just stopped fighting about the things that annoyed them and accepted it.”

    Good advice.

    I’ve come to accept that DW is comfortable with a different level of mess than I, and that she is not good about putting things away, and have made adaptations to reduce the friction that creates.

    E.g., we used to keep one pair of scissors in a kitchen drawer. She had a habit of taking it somewhere to use, and leaving it wherever she’d used it. As a result, when I needed it, it often wasn’t in the drawer, and I’d have to search for it and get aggravated.

    Once I accepted that I can’t expect her to put it away promptly, I took appropriate action to address the situation. Whenever I see scissors out, I’ll put it away, and I also bought a crapload of scissors; I put a few extra pairs in that kitchen drawer, one in her desk drawer, one in the mug of pens on her desk, and a couple in the mug of pens in our bedroom. As a result, I almost never go to the kitchen drawer for scissors and not find one there, and just in case, I have 4 pairs stashed in my desk drawer.

    Similarly, whenever DW wants to borrow one of my tools, I’ll go get it for her, and put it away when she’s done. I do not tell her where I keep my tools, as I want them available when I need them.

  128. Kerri, with the older one’s friend, she had a bit of a crush on him. They’re at different schools now but I have the impression that she still sorta carries a torch for him — they still chat online and so one — but he unfortunately is oblivious. Too bad!

    With the younger one, the girls are organized and bossy and he is less organized than they are and also pushes back by ignoring them and that makes them bossier. But they’re all on these science / math teams together, and he’s necessary for the teams’ success, so they have to deal with each other.

  129. ” She had a habit of taking it somewhere to use, and leaving it wherever she’d used it. ” Ha! I do this all the time. I do eventually put stuff back in its correct place. However I also use the “buy multiples” approach as evidenced by the gazillion chap sticks I own and find everywhere.

  130. Finn — Your scissors example is me with scotch tape, pens, and other assorted items. So I keep my secret stash that no one else can touch.

    “they found out that really they just stopped fighting about the things that annoyed them and accepted it.”

    Yup, plus less to be annoyed about as the years (35 and counting) go on. But, really, I can be very annoying in some ways so part of it is appreciating what H has had to put up with.

  131. HM I just can’t imagine myself at that age giving two figs about some boy’s stuff and then telling him how to organize it. Weird.

  132. Rhett, I believe Mooshi’s DS1 is in the same ballpark, and is the sort of kid who would’ve fit in fine at my kids’ school.

  133. When the younger one was late getting to an event (was frantically making last minute touches to a device that he should have finished up earlier) the girls called and one of them yelled at me thinking I was him for like five minutes before I managed to get in that this was his mom on the phone and he’d just left for the event.

  134. Kerri, I wouldn’t have either but I had enough to do getting myself organized. This friend is a girl who’s always had her shit well and truly together, so I’m sure it seemed bizarre to her that he could be so futless and she was trying to help.

  135. And I mean stuff like reminding him to write down the homework that was on the board, or of an upcoming due date, not that she was trying to fix his backpack that was like a portal to some dimension of pure chaos.

  136. Kerri, because the young girls are “involved” in HM’s DS’s “science stuff”, my guess is that they are in some kind of work group or project together and their grade or competition score depends to an extent on him having his stuff together and doing his part well.

    Lauren, thanks for mentioning that movie. I’ll watch for it.

    It’s interesting that some responses today focus on project management: deciding who does what, when, remembering what needs to happen, and coordinating various tasks, while others focus on division of labor, with no mention of how decisions are made when two tasks collide or something new comes up that no one is assigned to yet. I take the former to be the crux of the article, and the latter to be the limited vision for which the author criticizes her husband.
    I’m slowly training my son in the project mgt/flow aspect, whether it’s getting him to acknowledge that *planning* the poster is also a step that takes time or making him recognize that clothes need to go into the hamper by x before he can wear them, and sort of pulling him into the work flow just enough to realize the steps that are happening.

  137. I’ve seen the bossy girl syndrome with group projects. It sometimes works out well for all.

  138. Come to think of it, some girls in DS’s class did help him organize his desk. He let them because he wasn’t about to do it.

    Maybe these girls have OCD?

  139. Rhett, I believe Mooshi’s DS1 is in the same ballpark, and is the sort of kid who would’ve fit in fine at my kids’ school.

    I had assumed your son wasn’t taking medication for ADHD. Is he?

  140. I think I’d be willing to be yelled-at-in-error in order to get some more people siding with me, telling one son in particular to get his act together.

    In my family, my boys just mature later. The boys were ~36-42 months when potty trained and Baby WCE was 29 months- and fully manages her body better after being trained.

  141. Finn, the fact that you had to look up Concerta is directly related to you thinking that the organizational spreadsheet & list -making tasks that were easy for your kid would also be easy for MM’s son. He is super bright in many ways, but those two tasks sound like exactly the kind of thing that give him no end of headache (& subsequent heartache, if MM doesn’t check up on him). I agree that he needs to find strategies to deal with it, but dumping something as important as his college applications on him is not a good way to start!

    LfB, yay! Whether you choose to take this back on yourself again or not, it’s great that he now recognizes what it is.

  142. LfB – THIS: … he’s feeling the mental weight of knowing that I need him to be *responsible* for all of that stuff!. ..he’s the one who needs to ask me if I can take a particular thing off his plate to “help out.” And then all of the stuff he’s responsible for isn’t predictable, isn’t on a calendar, isn’t something you can write in to know when, …So DH is on edge because he isn’t quite sure what he’s going to need to do when, but he knows he’s on tap for whatever it is, whenever it is, no matter how tired he is — all on top of his day job.

    In our household, DP has limited amounts, but does not want any responsibility of this type. He wants only to be assigned to “help out”. I have tried to explain that this already falls more heavily on my plate and I do not have the bandwidth to handle 100% this responsibility. Plus, if he wants to shift more of this to me, then he has to take on more of the “help out” jobs. DP gets grumpy when he has to handle these things, but I am never supposed to be grumpy about handling my share of them.

  143. no mention of how decisions are made when two tasks collide or something new comes up that no one is assigned to yet.

    For us, there’s usually an obvious choice for who should handle something new.

  144. Deciding that neither of us was going to make Twin1 do his homework this year required coordination and agreement, because teaching your children that homework is optional should not typically be done without agreement from both parents. Coming to agreement about what tasks need to be done (Does someone need to supervise the kids’ homework or do we ignore the school and let them suffer the consequences?) can be difficult when people have different short term priorities and long term values.

  145. DH’s work related travel made things such that day to day in the home sphere fall to me. When the kids were little he was quite the hands on parent but over time his work scehdule became more hectic. It was something that happened over time, not something that we actively discussed. That said, if I feel overwhelmed I speak up and say this is all I can do, not adding one more thing to my plate.

  146. “However I also use the “buy multiples” approach as evidenced by the gazillion chap sticks I own and find everywhere.”

    Ha! That is me as well! DH always jokes around about my many, many chapsticks in every drawer.

  147. For me, it is hairbands that are stashed everyone. For other little stuff, I have a strong “one is enough” ethic, and won’t get another even when “the one” takes weeks or months to resurface.

    Louise, ugh. No way would I want to have to delegate the tasks and signal when my laodnwas about to tip.

  148. First of all, the college application process is like a thousand times harder than in my day. When I applied to colleges, first of all, it was REALLY EASY to get into all sorts of great schools and there was awesome financial aid available, so if you had semi decent grades and test scores, and a little bit of ambition, you could go to a reasonable school. There was ONE frickin’ deadline per school, not forty million (early admission i, early decision i, early admission 2, early decision 2, early admission 10, 0001, etc) and you didn’t have to try to figure out which would give you optimal chances given your particular record. There was NO STRATEGIZING at all. To apply to my set of schools, none of which I ever visited because college visits and open houses were not done back then, I spent one evening writing the saddest little essay ever, listed up my very boring extracurriculars, and then let my mother nag me about deadlines. I think she saw to it that the forms were placed in the envelopes and mailed on time. And this was in February, not November. I didn’t even take my one and only SAT until the fall of my senior year. I maintained no spreadsheets – I didn’t even have a to-do list. The guidance counselor saw me once. Basically, my father had to fill out the FAFSA, which he moaned about endlessly, and my mother kept track of the deadlines. And I was accepted at every college I applied to, even though I was almost as out of sync as my kid.

    It was so easy. Now, I feel like my head will explode, and I don’t even have ADHD.

    My husband, btw, says he filled out one application, around April or May of his senior year, figuring he might as well do what his sisters did. And that was all.

  149. LfB, you said this so well “One thing I think folks have missed from the article is that you can get into situations like this even when both of you are trying very hard to make the other happy! ”

    I try to keep that in my head. Better to grouse here or with my GFs than to get all pissy for DH, because he means well.

    BTW, I just learned that the husband of a local friend keeled over two days ago. He was in his 40’s. They have 4 kids. I think I am going to try harder to just be accepting.

  150. RE the accepting thing. Sometime in the past few years I realized that I could get mad and throw a hissy fit and the irritating behavior wouldn’t change now, I just tell myself that I am being mature about tolerating it. I’m still right of course, but now I’m also right and mature and accepting.

  151. MM,

    Are you sure your view is entirely accurate? I’m looking at the acceptance rates for schools you’ve mentioned at they range from 40% to 60%. 60% gets you close to anyone who can fog a mirror. (Not that I know enough of yor specific details to have an opinion)

  152. It is admittedly easier for those of us in older couples, with little or no hands on responsibility for children or elders, to take a more relaxed view of our partners’ inability to perform certain tasks or to share some of the organizational responsibility. We have learned from long experience what works and also when the cost of getting upset far outweighs the perceived unequal division. Also, we are much more sensitive to the possibility that life may be short with our lovable/exasperating schlepp. It does not appear that any poster wants advice on specifics, just understanding and a sympathetic ear. However, I do think that a couple of entries posted here go beyond casual venting, and the “emotional labor toll” is in great part a result of unrealistic expectations, poor division of tasks, and poor choice of battles to fight. You can be the rightest person in the graveyard, as my uncle used to say with respect to traffic awareness, and we use it a lot in our house for parties (the usual gender here) who won’t let go of an argument until they get a concession AND for parties (the other gender here) who go out of their way to prove that they are righteously aggrieved.

  153. Louise, ugh. No way would I want to have to delegate the tasks and signal when my laodnwas about to tip.

    So your partner should have to read your mind to know when you are overwhelmed?

  154. When DH and I got engaged, his grandparents, who were celebrating their 60th wedding anniversary, gave us this advice. Try your best everyday. Understand that your spouse is trying his/her best but always acknowledge that sometimes your “best” is going to suck. If you go through your life knowing that if each of you are giving it your best effort, you will survive the tough times that will invariably crop up.

  155. I think another way of looking at what some of you have said that will. be helpful to me is that even if I’m right that doesn’t necessarily mean DW isn’t also right.

  156. blockquote>And I am right,
    And you are right,
    And all is right as right can be!
    Chorus.
    And you are right,
    And we are right,
    And all is right, is right as right can be!

    From The Mikado, now running through my head.

  157. HM, I’m probably the only other person here who understands futless. Apple definitely does not.

  158. HM, I’m probably the only other person here who understands futless.

    They can figure it out from the context. It might come in handy for the vocab section of the pidgin SAT.

  159. Denver, nope. As I’ve said a couple times on here, in different ways, I absolutely do not want to be household manager, project manager, or in charge of logistics in anyway. I don’t need a partner to read my mind, but now that my child is taking on more responsibility (and I see my dad losing his ability to do so), there is no way I would want to be with someone who expects me to run the show, as if he were a child. Do you consider my earlier examples to be mind-reading? I think it’s standard rational adult behavior to lock up when it’s time to retire, and if anything, my kid’s dad, who has two older children, should’ve had a better clue than me about what a baby needs. Quite a few women have posted today that they have pretty much the responsibilities discussed in that cartoon. It works for them, I guess. To me, letting those things fall to the female side of a couple is the same as a woman being expected to take the minutes or make the coffee or pass around birthday cards at work. I’ve got plenty of feminine/maternal/loving traits, but picking up someone else’s slack is not one of them.

  160. S&M, this has nothing to do with one person being expected to handle everything or traditional gender roles. Even in a relationship where everything is handled fairly evenly, there sometimes comes a point when one partner or the other feels overwhelmed and can’t handle anything else. Louise said when that point comes, she tells her husband (I’m assuming that’s who she meant) that she can’t take on the new thing. You replied that there’s no way you want to have to say that. So if you don’t say it, how would your partner know?

    Just a little while ago, DW said she needs to have some time to herself on Sunday. How would I know if she didn’t speak up and tell me?

  161. I think all of this discussion goes some distance towards explaining why older divorced or widowed women often don’t remarry. The patriarchal explanation is that we’re withered and ugly and there aren’t enough men anyway. An alternative explanation is that we’re just fucking sick of it.

  162. It’s true that, as the article’s author writes, dads get extra credit for routine childcare tasks, and it’s especially true for anything specific to a daughter.

    But it’s also true, at least in my world, that moms get extra credit for any paid work that they do, in addition to regular household management. (I’ll concede that, ironically, it might be less true for FT WOH moms.) But I swear, just as I will get a ton of “you’re such an amazing dad” comments for doing something with my daughter, DW gets the opposite for anything to do with her paid work. Nobody ever says to me “It’s amazing that you’ve been working and supporting your family all these years.” It’s just expected, and passes without comment. DW mentions some minor work obligation, perhaps to my parents, and she gets “Wow, you really are amazing.”

    As for the author in the OP, she has some legitimate complaint that she either needs to work through, or just accept. But I also suspect that her expectations for life, roles, and lifestyle, may fall a bit shy of realism. It sounds like she resents the role of primary parent. She imagines that, since they’re both working, the emotional labor of household management should be 50-50. The problem is that she’s a freelance writer who probably spent a month working on that article, and was paid $500. At best. And she goes around accepting all the accolades of p/t working mom supporting her family, meanwhile resenting the praise that her DH gets (or expects) for his contributions to childcare. It works both ways.

    How realistic is she about finances? A Mother’s Day present might be a card and a box of chocolates. A regular cleaning service can be comparable to the cost of leasing a new car in perpetuity. She justifies this by the fact that her freelancing has picked up. Maybe, maybe not. She might be out of her mind. But if her DH’s pay had increased by some tiny amount, and he said “I want to lease a new car for my Father’s Day present,” that might seem irresponsible. It’s almost certain that they would be better served increasing 401k or 529 contributions. But the freelance writer mom who sells an extra $500 article feels justified doing the equivalent, and our biases about how amazing moms are when they bring in some extra money make this seem initially reasonable. I doubt that she’s sharing an equal amount of the emotional labor for family financial management and planning.

    Gifts are a PITA. A few times, I’ve told DW that if she wants to get me a Xmas present, the gift is in the research. I said this years ago for a GPS. Then she wanted to ask about what features I wanted. I said I didn’t know what I wanted, and I didn’t want to learn about features to figure it out. That’s when she understood.

    The reverse happened when she wanted a running watch. I did all the research; she had no input because she knew nothing about them. But the one I bought, she didn’t really like. So after Christmas, she did all her own research, came to a different conclusion, returned mine and bought what she wanted,

    That’s the way it goes sometimes. I think we’re both happy to laugh it off and move on.

    I spent yesterday with my dad and one of his college friends. At dinner, the friend mentioned someone they both knew, and my dad said “oh I haven’t seen him or [the wife] in years.”

    Friend says “yeah, well a year or two ago, he left her when she got Lyme Disease.”

    My dad, kind of shocked, says, with obvious sarcasm, “well, that’s a good reason, I guess.”

    Friend says “unbelievable. Then he married a 10-year-old.”

  163. Speaking of mindreading, I’m impressed Milo knows all those specifics about the family’s financial situation. Of course it might not be anywhere close to their reality, but it makes a great narrative.

  164. Denver – it’s no secret that freelance writers do a ton of work for shit money. Especially ones who are writing for something like “Bazaar,” or whatever that was. If cleaning service is something that she really needs to extensively shop around, if she thinks that maybe it should only be for bathrooms and floors, if the husband is incredulous about the cost, then it’s a reasonable assumption that the cost represents a real tradeoff, to say the least.

    You really can’t discuss the article at all without some reasonable speculation of their circumstances, and I’m certainly not the only one here to do so. But it’s not mind reading.

  165. RMS, haha–nailed it!

    Milo, I quite agree with you on the gift-buying thing. That’s what she was asking her husband to do. But your usual takedown, mixed with a bit of misogyny, might be misplaced here.

    Someone asked how this plays out for same-sex couples. The first article at this link includes a few paragraphs on that, and a link to an article on the topic. https://gemmahartley.contently.com/

  166. Saac – what part is misogynistic? I’m pointing out how there are double standards for both genders. People are unduly impressed at any actions or efforts outside one’s traditional gender roles.

  167. Denver Dad said it well.
    In my workplace there is no expectation that women take on buying birthday cards, organizing events or taking minutes. Each person for work projects and other whatever social activities arise volunteers based on their strengths. Just recently one of the guys on our extended team said he was burned out handling this one project so another person who had some knowledge of the task was delegated to help him. There are some work projects that no one wants to do, so someone as we joke will get volun-told. I see the same thing at home, doing what your strength is, if you are getting overwhelmed speak up and some things just have to get done even though no one wants to do them.

  168. Milo, Harper’s Bazaar is a women’s magazine of many decades’ standing. It’s not some weird Internet zine.

  169. You really can’t discuss the article at all without some reasonable speculation of their circumstances,

    Sure you can. Unless you feel that the division of household labor should be based on how much money each partner brings in.

  170. Denver – if your daughter becomes a nurse practitioner, and, for whatever reasons, they decide that her DH will be a SAHD when they have two or three little kids, an I correct in assuming that:

    1) you’d be fine with this; and
    2) you’d expect that, while your DD would certainly be involved in household and family management, the bulk of the emotional labor toward things like field trip permission forms, summer camp research and selections, and general household work would mostly fall to the SAHP?

    I think that we’ve all agreed with this premise before.

    Now imagine that your son-in-law starts a small woodworking business from his shop in the basement. In a decent year, his work brings in about $6k compared to your DD’s $110k.

    Now that he also works, he’s annoyed that he is still responsible for the majority of the emotional labor for the family. Yes, your DD does a lot of work around the house, yes she spends almost all her time after work also helping with homework, or baths, and cleaning up the kitchen. But because he now has this woodworking business, son-in-law is exasperated that he is the one shouldering the bulk of the emotional labor. Additionally, now that he’s making $6k a year with his carvings, he doesn’t want to do any more regular deep cleaning around the house. He tells your DD that for his Fathers Day present, he wants a cleaning service. And he wants NO part of the decision making process there. She needs to seek recommendations from multiple sources, read reviews, solicit multiple bids, get the whole thing set up. Because he’s just exasperated.

    So your response is

    A) Absolutely, right. He’s working, just like DD. She should be responsible for half of all the family responsibilities; or

    B) …

  171. Milo, I concur with your arguments. In my circle, people commonly don’t realize I am employed as well as a mother of four.

    Rhett, wedding announcement you shouldn’t miss.

  172. Milo, assuming it was actually any of my business, which it wouldn’t be, if he is working 40 hours a week on his woodworking business, then I would expect they would have something near a 50-50 split of household duties. If he is working 15 hours a week on his business, I would expect he would have proportionally more of the household responsibility.

    Again, it’s not any of my business what anyone else does, but IMO household duties should be apportioned based on the amount of time each person spends working on their paying jobs, not how much money they are making. Your mileage may differ.

  173. Denver – I didn’t ask if you were going to butt in, just what your reaction would be.

    Hypothetically speaking, is there any territory where a paying job is bordering on a hobby? Like, if the son-in-law was an excellent golfer, and he gives lessons, as long as the income from lessons exceeds his expenses by $1, then it’s paying, and therefore household duties are now divided according to labor hour proportionality?

    I may be wrong, but I kind of think that if the woodworking son in law came on here complaining about how exasperated he was and how his wife totally screwed up his Fathers Day by scrubbing all the bathrooms herself instead of outsourcing it like he wanted, this group would tear him a new one. Perhaps you’re the exception.

  174. FWIW, my BIL is apparently embarking on this situation becoming a SAHD by default, married to someone who is almost a NP.

  175. Milo, we had the hobby vs. job discussion several times a few years ago. Mr WCE felt that I was neglecting my household obligations when I worked in the evenings on what he derisively referred to as “my hobby” and would have preferred that I be housecleaning instead. I thought that maintaining retirement savings at a decent level was more important plus I wasn’t dissatisfied enough with the cleanliness of the house.

    We mostly resolved the issue by sitting down and demonstrating that 1) my hourly rate was higher than his, though the work was irregular and should not be depended on for the monthly bills and 2) If I worked full-time, even with two kids of preschool age and one in school, the breakeven with taxes/childcare was $60k and that didn’t other costs, like transportation and sharing sick kid days.

  176. ITA with DD: the default is that the chores/responsibility should be split based on who has more/less time available, as adjusted to fit abilities/interests. How much each partner works, whether they make enough in that job, and all those kinds of issues are things for each couple to figure out on their own. If this guy thinks his wife’s work is a “hobby”*, and he doesn’t think the division of earning responsibility is fair, then it’s his business to talk that over with his wife. Me, I am going to assume that each spouse’s work is “real” work unless said spouse actually tells me otherwise.

    And, yeah, if DH quit his day job and set up a woodworking business (not out of the realm of possibility); and if he was getting the kids off to school so I could go in early, then cleaning the house, then going out to the shop until the kids got home, then coming back in to do his share of the afternoon/evening chores; and if he then told me he wanted a cleaning service to free up more shop time and to keep him sane with everything that had to be done, and pretty please could I just take care of it; then hell yes I am getting him that for Father’s Day. His work matters to him, and it’s my job to support it for that reason, regardless of whether that decision has an immediate financial payback. I consider it an investment in both his business and his mental health. And of course, because we have an actual partnership, he also wouldn’t bullshit me about his woodworking being a “business” if it was really just a hobby.

    *@Milo: you are treading in an area with a ton of history, and I don’t think you mean it in the same way, so I am going to try to explain rationally, even though your posts just set off every stabby anger neuron in my brain. The first argument of sexists everywhere was that women aren’t “fit” for paid work — that we are emotional, neurotic, hysterical, etc. Then when women got paid jobs anyway, the next argument was to disparage/belittle the value of those efforts — oh, it’s just a “hobby,” she just wants to make a little “pin money.” That argument reaffirms that the “proper” role of the man is as provider, and the wife is therefore benefitting from his toil by being able to play around with her little hobbies — which, then, leads inexorably to the conclusion that she should still take on all of the childcare/housekeeping duties, since her work is not “real” work. And, of course, it allowed all of the men in the workplace to refuse to take her seriously, because of course it’s just a “hobby” for her — it’s not like it means anything, or like she has a family depending on her like all of the men there.

    As you can imagine, this is absolutely infuriating and offensive to, well, pretty much every woman who has ever been in that position. Often we step off a career path that had the potential to make a lot more money, because *someone* has to be primary caretaker, and our husbands either earned more and/or weren’t interested in staying home or both. Many women want to do that, sure, but many women also see it as a sacrifice to some degree — we are giving up pay and prestige and power for the greater good of the family. And then we go out and try to find *some* work that we can do — work with flexible hours that we can fit in after a full day of kid care — and that gets brushed off as insignificant. Or worse, not even “work” — just a “hobby,” something we do for fun to pass the time.

    At this point, there is only one logical response:: “Are you *%>$$}+<$ kidding me?!?!"

    In short, criticizing working moms for not making enough, and assuming that their efforts to support their family are "hobbies," is just a subtler way of saying "be thankful you have a husband to do the *real* work – now go make dinner." Because, you know, if I were the author, and I wanted a hobby, it would be something that is a hell of a lot easier and more fun than hustling articles for shit pay.

  177. I actually know a couple where the husband has an at-home woodworking job, which grew out of a hobby which he turned to after being laid off of his FT job nearly 30 years ago. His wife is the primary breadwinner, working in the financial industry.
    Guess who does all the planning and organizing and keeping track? Yup, the wife.

  178. Denver – I didn’t ask if you were going to butt in, just what your reaction would be.

    My reaction would be that it’s none of my business, and if DD is happy then I’m happy.

    Hypothetically speaking, is there any territory where a paying job is bordering on a hobby? Like, if the son-in-law was an excellent golfer, and he gives lessons, as long as the income from lessons exceeds his expenses by $1, then it’s paying, and therefore household duties are now divided according to labor hour proportionality?

    It depends on what the end goal of it is. Is he working towards building a decent business and right now he’s in the startup phase so there isn’t much income, or is his end goal is to just cover expenses while he has fun?

    And getting back to the freelance writing:

    The Economist paid $200 for 500 words.
    Esquire paid $500 for 900 words.

    Obviously it depends on the content of the article, but a decent writer can write 500 words in about 4 hours (that’s about two double-spaced pages with standard margins). Even if we say 8 hours, that’s $25 an hour for the Economist. Esquire would be around $35 an hour. That’s decent money, certainly well beyond what I call a hobby. Of course there is the time spent in marketing yourself to get the contacts and the assignments which you have to account for. So I’d say a freelancer making $20-25 an hour is doing real work. But as WCE and LfB said, when you are doing the bulk of your work in “off-hours”, it’s easy for other people to see it as a hobby instead of a job.

  179. LfB and Milo, I interpreted Milo’s point to be that many (certainly not ALL, and LfB is exceptional) women choose more pleasant, lower paying jobs and have that privilege because their partners choose less pleasant, higher paying jobs. In my and Milo’s social circles, women want to do only half the housework/childcare without doing half (or anywhere near half) of the breadwinning.

    They are replacing natural gas pipeline near me and all the people laying pipeline in the cold, rainy muck are male, even though I suspect women would be preferentially hired. The childcare teachers/assistants are all female. A fair number of my female acquaintances overprioritize (in my opinion) their jobs as pilates/exercise/water babies instructors.

    From this blog, I’ve come to realize that gender-based assumptions hurt women who strive professionally but from my observation, they are often grounded in reality, especially in social circles like Milo’s and mine.

  180. A fair number of my female acquaintances overprioritize (in my opinion) their jobs as pilates/exercise/water babies instructors.

    What do you mean by “overpriortize”?

  181. Denver Dad, I’m digging myself in deep here, but I would say they consider the job (~3-6 hr/week on average) to be equal in priority to the job in the family that pays the bills and don’t seek a better/additional job and/or express annoyance with their spouse’s interfering obligations.

    It’s presumptuous of me to imply they should seek better jobs but I identify with the spouses whose job it is to be “available” when spouse has travel or call and obligations like that complicate your availability. It’s hard to know how important “availability” is- when Mr WCE’s travel conflicted with my annual major SWE obligation, I got a babysitter, even though that’s a completely optional volunteer role. But I didn’t complain about his having to travel (last minute) when I already had plans. An acquaintance married to a cardiologist invites all my kids to her kid’s birthday parties, because we are both spouses with high availability obligations. Baby WCE received her first beach ball at an elementary school birthday party.

  182. Look, you just can’t say the higher -paid spouse is the real worker and the other is a fibbertigibbet hobbyist. There are a billion historic and current reasons why women get paid less. I got paid less as the director of IT for my company than my husband gets paid as a law partner. It was a full time job with bennies and stress and all kinds of shit. It wasn’t a hobby and I wasn’t a fibbertigibbet.

  183. “you just can’t say the higher -paid spouse is the real worker and the other is a fibbertigibbet hobbyist.”

    Yes, we really can. Sorry, but you and LfB are letting your emotions and biases prevent you from seeing this rationally. Yes, there are a lot of reasons and societal biases why women have earned less.

    But when my SIL is about to be a mom and about to be a nurse practitioner, and my BIL is about to be a SAHD who has a little business on the side that might make less than $5k annually, then her job is prioritized.

    I was thinking over LfB’s and Denver’s philosophies last night, while supervising two five year olds at a bday party. I think theirs might be the philosophical ideal.

    I think WCE and I see things more in terms of middle class practicality.

    LfB and Denver are focused primarily on the personal fulfillment of the individual spouse. WCE and I see the question in terms of the family’s financial wellbeing.

    From our perspectives, it’s not realistic for the vast majority of families to decide that a low earning spouse can dedicate significant time to something that earns next to no money, and childcare and housekeeping can be outsourced if that’s what makes them happy.

    This the class dichotomy that Loretta Lynn sang about in the 60s.

  184. Rocky – I’m not saying that any lesser-earning spouse is a hobbbyist. Not at all. I’ve written repeatedly on here how DWs job has brought the income that has allowed us to accumulate a real level of investment assets at an early age.

    I’m talking only about cases where the lesser income is so low that it barely covers the expenses that are incurred and justified by that work.

  185. Loretta:

    The girls in New York City, they all march for women’s lib
    And Better Homes and Garden shows, the modern way to live
    And the Pill may change the world tomorrow, but meanwhile, today
    Here in Topeka, the flies are a buzzin’
    The dog is a barkin’ and the floor needs a scrubbin’
    One needs a spankin’ and one needs a huggin’
    Lord, one’s on the way

  186. My thought when the husband said the cleaning service was too expensive was that they as a family couldn’t afford it. My observation is that it takes a quite a bit of income coming in to lead the typical UMC lifestyle – house in a good school district or private school, activities for the children, gym or club memberships, cars and boats in some cases, savings for retirement and education, vacations, food and clothes of certain quality or brands, household help (nanny, babysitter, pet care and cleaning services).
    Tension arises IMO, when partners are not on the same page regarding money matters. This is never described as the primary cause of the stress but it often is.

  187. “flibbertigibbet” Why did I not know this word before today. It’s fun just saying it.

    “I’m talking only about cases where the lesser income is so low that it barely covers the expenses that are incurred and justified by that work.”

    Yup, that’s what I understood. And even that is nuanced. The attorney working PT hours for a few years while childcare and other expenses are barely covered by her income may be a case that both partners feel is fully justified because it’s being done to keep her resume current for later re-entry into a FT position. Every marriage has to do what works for them. Resentment can build up on both sides, for different reasons.

    “spouses with high availability obligations” — That can definitely add value to a marriage even if the spouse is bringing in little or no money.

  188. “Emotions and biases”? What’s next, we’re being “hysterical”?

    Let’s talk biases. You look at an article about a woman who is a freelance writer, and immediately assume it is a “hobby” job. No information at all about how much she actually works — could be WCE’s “3-6 hrs/week,” could be 50+. No information about how much she makes, either by itself or as a share of the household income. But you assume that the husband has the hard, unpleasant, “real” work, and she has a hobby that she pursues for “personal fulfillment.”

    That’s bias, plain and simple.

    I will agree with you that I don’t have much patience with someone who teaches yoga a few hours a week and then claims that she’s sooooo exhausted and her husband who works 50 hrs/wk doesn’t pull his weight at home. And yeah, a “hobby” masquerading as a business is secondary to the demands of the primary earner. However, the approach DD and I identified already covers that situation: if one spouse works 50 hrs and the other works 5 hrs, then the one working 5 hrs covers the vast majority of the housework. It would be unreasonable to expect a 50/50 division of labor in that scenario.

    OTOH, what Milo is suggesting is that allocation of housework should be based on how much each spouse earns, regardless of the hours spent. Under that theory, you take a medical resident married to an engineer who works 9-5, and the resident is supposed to do most of the housework despite working 80 hrs/wk? Or is residency acceptable because it is a short-term investment towards a highly-paid career? Does the “lower-paid spouse does most of the work” rule apply only to those jobs that are deemed unworthy? And who gets to make that decision?

    Characterizing my concerns as valuing “personal fulfillment” above the good of the family is both a strawman and completely wrong. I am talking about treating other couples as fully-functioning adults who can decide what works for them, and thus presuming that whatever jobs a couple has chosen are acceptable to both of them in terms of the time spent and money earned. If this guy doesn’t think his wife is earning enough, he needs to have a talk with her about other career opportunities — not pull some passive-aggressive bullshit like expecting her to do all the housework to “atone” for the fact that she doesn’t make enough.

    Finally, it’s not a “philosophical ideal.” It’s real life for a lot of people. You guys sometimes act like I am from some other planet — OMG, she’s a partner in a law firm and a wife and a mom, who does that? Which makes it easy to dismiss me — I live in a bubble, right? And you guys know how the real world works? But I am not even remotely unusual in my neighborhood — which, in turn, is not exactly super high-end. The only difference between me and many other couples out there is that I get paid more. Yes, that frees up more options for outsourcing. But that doesn’t change the analysis of how you split those chores that can’t be outsourced. The issue is the same whether you’re talking about highly-paid parents working 50+ hrs/week or the schoolteacher and the nurse. And to my mind, the only fair way to do it is based on the time available to do the chores, not the amount of money each partner contributes. And if they aren’t making enough money to support their family, they need to address that directly, not passive-aggressively through chore allocation.

  189. I agree with Milo and suspect that he would have exactly the same opinion if the freelance writer were the husband rather than the wife.
    Milo made a good point regarding how gender expectations go both ways. I hadn’t considered that angle on the first read and appreciate his comment. That is one reason this blog is so enjoyable.

  190. Milo, is your BIL trying to turn it into a “real” business and spending a lot of time on it even though the income isn’t there yet, or just planning to spend 10 hours a week on it for the next 10 years? That makes a big difference.

    And you haven’t addressed the point that the wife in the article could actually be making decent money. You just assume free-lance writer means she’s working 15 hours a week for a couple hundred bucks a month. Would it change your opinion of she is making $45k a year?

    Even in couples where they both .ale “real money”, usually one job has priority over the other, because it makes more or has the insurance or has more future growth potential or whatever. That doesn’t mean the spouse in the low priority job should have to do most of the housework.

    Louise, if the husband legitimately thinks they can’t afford a cleaner tHEn that’s the discussion he needs to have with the wife, not just tell her “you can’t have what you want.”

  191. Scarlett, would you have the same opinion if the freelancer was making $50k a year instead of the $5k a year that you, Milo and WCE are assuming she’s making?

  192. I went back and read the original article. My opinion is that Mother’s Day is not a day when anyone but a child or grandchild should be giving a card/flowers/framed artwork or “coupons for relieving Mom of a chore”, although the reality is that some other adult often has to facilitate that. So immediately asking for something substantial for Mother’s Day seems off, plus the poor communication.

    Milo and WCE describe one sort of “thing”. The reason I am the back up babysitter for my grandchildren, in addition to wanting a chance to spend time with them, is NOT because I am covering for my son the selfish ass who won’t take time off (these are your children too) and risk losing his job when someone gets sick. They already have after school child care and a weekly cleaner and scaled back activities for the kids and Ipad as diversion and pizza some nights and a lawn service and he can WFH a lot. No one is oppressed here. It is because my daughter in law has no work experience outside the arts/crafts world and a lot of lifelong pent up anger and no understanding of the demands on the principal breadwinner. I had to sit her down and say, I have made this deal. I’ll be there and if I have an issue son and I will handle the tag team. Don’t make it a bone of contention in your marriage. But she still does it, and he gets into his defensive reactive mode, and they have the same d-mn fight over and over again because that is about what is going on between them, not about money or children’s needs or self actualization.

    As a younger wife and mother I was ineffectual in my communication, amplified by a host of interpersonal failings and cultural conflict both of us brought to the marriage. So we didn’t find a way to work it out. But I actually lived the, I make the money and you are the domestic servant. Not domestic goddess or domestic manager or stay at home partner, but servant. OTOH, he was totally overburdened with the breadwinning role and had a mental breakdown. His religious conversion made it impossible for him to look at our issues as personal ones – they were converted into obedience and disobedience, starting when I unilaterally refused to have any more children after number 5. Loretta Lynn may be talking about a class difference, but why the fu(k do you think I went to school full time with 4 little kids and took a high powered job? Because I was bored and unfulfilled? No, a good job granted me AND the children options. Not ease for many years, not happiness, but a chance at those things.

  193. My in-laws have always treated my job as a hobby. A bit might be my fault – it is easy to make conversation about funny minor patients, or how many colds I have seen. Harder to talk about dead people. However, they have been annoyed when I am working holidays, as they see that as optional. They also have made direct comments about, “but you don’t do much at work, right?” It has moved passed the point where it makes me stabby (they are so old and frail now one doesn’t even engage), but I bring up the point that one can be doing very demanding and high paid work and still be criticized for letting my “hobby” interfere with the real work of the house.

    On the other hand, I have been annoyed at how much admiration DH gets for taking 3 kids to the grocery store. “BEST DAD EVER!” but never really connected that to the “WOW, YOU’RE AMAZING” comments I get for having a job! and kids! (with no mention of “live in help”!). Both are somewhat unfair.

  194. Working at the same place, Mr WCE is a “good parent” for working from home with sick kids and I’m “less of an employee.” (Both our perception- no evidence.)

    So he takes the bulk of the sick kid days.

  195. DD, I didn’t read the posted article closely enough to discern whether the author wss making a significant financial contribution to the family through her writing. My assumption was that the housecleaning work was her responsibility not because of gender norms but because the value of her time was lower.

  196. Scarlett, the article doesn’t say. Some people just made the assumption that she doesn’t make much money, which is part of what is so aggravating about this discussion. Of course some of us are simply making a different assumption, but we’re giving her the benefit of the doubt that she is working enough hours and has enough awareness of the family finances that her request to hire a cleaner is reasonable.

  197. I didn’t parse every word but didn’t get the impression Milo was being sexist or saying the one who makes more is automatically more valuable. It seemed to me he was making an economic reality argument. I thought it was more like that annoying WSJ writer who worked from home & had tons of flexibility but still felt so put upon to be expected to drive kids and empty the dishwasher.

    If one person is primarily at home, with a less demanding/high flexibility job, isn’t the point of that arrangement to have that person be the ‘manager’ of the household? Otherwise, both adults might as well lean in and both have more demanding jobs and maximize earning potential, and then outsource more. That’s the argument I thought he was making, which makes sense to me.

  198. Also, for what it’s worth, I do think there’s a big difference between taking on the role of household manager and taking on the role of toilet-cleaner. No adult with an income should have to clean the whole household’s toilets. But no spouse should be required to take on some sort of made-up psychological angst as a gift to the other spouse. If the division of household cleaning bothers her, make the damn call and hire the service.

  199. And to Milo’s point about the cost of a cleaner – it may add up to the cost of a perpetual lease, but it’s still less $$ than a divorce or marriage counselor. And so if that’s really the issue that’s causing conflict, it is money well spent, right along with a regular Saturday night babysitter. But I don’t get the impression with the author it’s actually about the money.

  200. If one person is primarily at home, with a less demanding/high flexibility job, isn’t the point of that arrangement to have that person be the ‘manager’ of the household?

    Absolutely. But that doesn’t mean the manager doesn’t reach the point where their plate is full and they can’t handle any more.

    But no spouse should be required to take on some sort of made-up psychological angst as a gift to the other spouse. If the division of household cleaning bothers her, make the damn call and hire the service.

    Sure, but she asked her husband to do it because her plate was full, he said he would do it, and then he didn’t follow through.

    But I don’t get the impression with the author it’s actually about the money.

    Right, it’s that she asked her husband to do something, he said he would, then he didn’t do it for whatever reason, and rather than having a conversation with her about it, he just went and did something she didn’t want.

  201. The author is 29 years old with 3 kids a husband and mortgage in Reno. They were high school or college sweethearts and married very young. She is a prolific freelance writer with bylines on many platforms, quite a few of which seem to be paid gigs on national mags and blogs. The 140K in debt mentioned in WCE’s link appears to be today just 100K in mortgage, and the emotional labor article has been a big success, getting her interviews and generating a lot of commentary. She is doing a good job at building her brand/reputation. No detail on what her husband does, but it does not appear to be highly paid.

    They may not be financially practical to totebag standards, but is in a very low COLA area. And they have apparently decided to stop at 3 kids. It is a lot easier to cut both of them some slack on the Mother’s Day fiasco given their age.

  202. The author’s husband appears to be a mechanical engineer at IGT (International Gaming Technologies) who graduated in 2014. By his response, I suspected he was an engineer, but he could have been civil or electrical, not necessarily mechanical. :) I identified with the author after Google-stalking her.

    I suspect the cleaning request was a one-time gig, not a regular service request. I definitely identify with that- one of my friends used her birthday money from both their parents for a whole house cleaning (husband may have chipped in a bit too) when her three kids were young. It’s just so hard to keep up with multiple little ones. You work constantly and you’re still behind.

  203. Ada, I’m wondering whether your ILs consider the MDs that treat them to be engaging in their hobbies while doing so.

  204. It seems so WCE that she dug around to clarify the writer’s situation, as opposed to continuing discussions based on guesses, presumptions, and hypotheses.

    BTW, the article is about a year old, and in it she says she’ll be debt free in 5 years, when she’s 32, which suggests that she’s 28 now.

    This jumped at me from the article WCE referenced:

    “My husband and I had married our junior year of college”

    Interesting marriage concept. I’m also thinking, if she gets paid by the word, why leave one out here?

  205. “But it’s also true, at least in my world, that moms get extra credit for any paid work that they do, in addition to regular household management. (I’ll concede that, ironically, it might be less true for FT WOH moms.)”

    I don’t know any woman who gets extra credit for working. None. If anything its more of “at least she’s pulling some of her weight.” And forget less true, try not at all true for FT WOH moms.

    This may be just your parents trying to be supportive to your wife, Milo. Generalizing this beyond your family is really tone deaf given your audience.

  206. The time when we had two small children, two demanding jobs and a commute that was fine pre kids but not great when kids were factored in, were the toughest for us and prompted our move. I wanted to keep my job but we had to balance DH’s increasing responsibilities and the demands of our kids as well. I had an idea but let’s just say, didn’t fully comprehend until that point how much of an impact adding kids would have to our lives.

  207. In my world, women don’t get the extra credit for working. They get criticized for having a cleaning service and not making homemade cupcakes for the bake sale.

  208. “I don’t know any woman who gets extra credit for working. None. If anything its more of “at least she’s pulling some of her weight.” And forget less true, try not at all true for FT WOH moms.”

    “In my world, women don’t get the extra credit for working. They get criticized for having a cleaning service and not making homemade cupcakes for the bake sale.”

    This is much, much more true in my experience. I certainly don’t feel like I have ever in my life gotten any “extra” credit for working. If anything, it’s condescending, “Oh how nice for you that you have a job. Isn’t that cute?” (from people my grandma’s age – although not my grandma who kicked ass) Although, to be fair, I don’t think anyone has ever criticized me or any of my peers for having a cleaning service.

  209. In my community, an email just came around about looking for more volunteers to work at the elementary school book fair this week. This situation has done a 180 from when I was the parent of an elementary school student just 5 or 6 years ago. There used to be a waiting list with volunteers because there were too many parents that wanted to help at the book fair. The reason for this shift is that majority of the parents in our elementary school are now working parents. This might be single parent families, or dual parent families, but people are not at home during the day. My school district has over 100 families on a wait list for before/after care for elementary school. Same reason – parents are working and not around to line up at pick up. I even notice a difference at middle school pick up because there is less traffic and it is easier to park because so many kids are taking the bus because their parents are not at home to pick up.

    This is just an observation in my immediate community, but whether it is a generational shift in thinking, OR a change forced by the cost of housing…there are fewer of the stereotypes that some of you are describing in my community. I know the surrounding towns are facing similar issues for the the same reasons. When I speak to some of the younger parents, many of them just assumed that they would continue working and they find a way to make that happen.

    There are slow changes taking place, and there seem to be some regional differences and preferences for what is expected.

  210. Lauren, interesting trend. I’m not sure if that’s also happening here. My observation is that many mothers work, but PT or other types of jobs that leave them more time for volunteering.

    Maybe it’s a generational thing or maybe I’ve drowned out criticisms, but it seems I’ve mainly been lauded for being able to handle motherhood while also working for pay. It made me think of this commercial from way back.

  211. I’m late to an interesting conversation, but wanted to add my two cents. As the breadwinning mother of 5, I’m usually treated like a superhero by casual observers and very occasionally, as a freak of nature. I live in a medium sized town in a rural area on the west coast, which is fairly conservative, but consistently economically distressed. While stay-at-home moms aren’t uncommon, it isn’t automatically expected as the norm. Most moms have to contribute to the family finances. I have never heard any woman’s job referred to as a hobby – unless maybe it involved multi-level marketing.
    DH is the anomaly as the stay-at-home dad, although a smattering of them have come to my attention over the last few years – I can’t think of any I knew of growing up. DH and I have a pretty even chore split. We share laundry and cleaning. He does most of the outdoor, yard work and I do most of the cooking. My mom was a traditional stay-at-home mom, with 100% responsibility for the usual housework/child rearing. Sometimes I look at the deal my Dad got with a stay at home spouse and the deal I’m getting and feel a little resentful – because, to my mind, he got a way better deal. But I think the way DH and I do it is more fair.
    Interestingly, because we live on small acreage (a requirement for DH), DH is responsible for the farm work. It is a hobby farm, but has had a number of schemes to try to make it a profitable side-business . There have been occasions where we’ve gotten in arguments about the time suck/monetary output his “small business” requires and I’ve been known to mutter under my breath that we’d be a lot better off if he’d just let me earn the money and stop trying make money on the stupid farm.

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