Mommies, we are all sailing in the same boat. We feel unrecognized for doing some of the world’s most thankless jobs, we are exhausted 25 hours a day (because 24 isn’t enough), and better still, get very little help managing it all! The worst phase perhaps is when your baby recently arrives in your life, and instead of loving your partner a little more, all you can think of is how he peacefully snores away to glory! While you need to stay up the whole night trying to soothe your colicky baby!
I will tell you what happened one night.
Just like every other night, I put Arjun (my 4 months old son) to sleep and sat down with my husband to have dinner. As usual, we discussed how our day went. He couldn’t stop going on and on about how some colleague at work was trying to take credit for his work. And here I was, thinking how not even once had he asked me how I managed the electrical repair work going on in our house. AND also managed Arjun who had been running a temperature for the last 2 days. Instead, the next complaint was how I only served him dal and rice for dinner! I swear to God I wanted to scream my guts out at his face.
After Arjun was born, my in-laws stayed with us for a month to help out. As a first time mother, I was a mess! I had a C-section delivery so I was still recovering from the surgery and faced terrible back pains. At that point I genuinely questioned my ability as a mother because I was not able to nurse Arjun as well and often as I’d like to have. I still am so grateful to my mother-in-law who completely took over the house chores and taught me the things I needed to know to take care of Arjun. I insisted on not keeping a full-time help because I thought, with Siddharth’s – my husband’s – support, we will be able to ace this new parent thing. He too seemed very enthusiastic, and I was reassured that things would be fine even after my in-laws left. How wrong I was!
I recently read that 90% of the household chores are done by women all over the world. This is basically in addition to taking care of the kids and managing their own work pressure (if they are working outside). I guess I can perhaps see and understand why.
Please don’t get me wrong. Siddharth is a great father, an amazing son, and the perfect life partner I could have ever asked for. But, these past few months have been extremely stressful with the baby in the house and me being a sleep-deprived zombie! There are times when I would like him to check on Arjun at night or just pick up groceries on his way back. But his ‘Ghajini’ attitude is simply beyond me!
I need to tell him something once, make him put a reminder in his phone, call his office desk to remind, and even after the 15th reminder, he somehow miraculously manages to forget things. On his day off, when I have to run errands and ask him to put clothes in the washing machine, I come back home to an even messier house. Night shifts with Arjun are always on me because he has to get up early for work (Even though I wake up earlier to get his lunch ready!)
At one point, I couldn’t recognise anymore. Did I hate my own husband for not helping me? Because I have been struggling to contain my sanity and get things moving.
That’s when I realised, perhaps I AM AT FAULT!
Yes, that’s because I always ASK him to do things that don’t necessarily impact his day. I mean, as a partner, getting things done is equally his responsibility. It didn’t really matter if you asked him to clean the kitchen cabinets, but it would definitely matter if he didn’t have ironed clothes to wear for his big meeting!
So here’s the one thing I did that solved 80% of my problems (20% is work in progress!): I told Siddharth that we needed to have the talk!
I told him how I felt, and all I needed was for him to do his part. That’s all. We charted a time table that none of us can back out of (at least not without the other’s consent). We picked alternate days to check on Arjun at night (because by now you must have figured that my son is not a night sleeper at all!). We picked dates on which one does the laundry and similarly divided the rest of the chores.
As my forgetful husband can come up with several excuses for not doing a job, the onus lies on him. When it is his day at the dishes, and he forgets, he gets packaged food. No laundry, no clean shirt.
I wasn’t sure of how this arrangement would turn out. I had apprehensions that my husband may take offence to this plan, but he seemed very supportive of the idea. And well, that was a good start, I believe.
We still have days of piled up dirty dishes, but it is definitely getting better. I feel relaxed, and some days am able to catch a quick afternoon nap too. Becoming parents is an awesome feeling, but it is also very hard work. I guess, we all just need to find a way to make it work for us.
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