Scenario one: You, Hubby and the kids all have hectic itineraries. You’re all scheduled to be in and out of the house in crazy combinations of dates and times. The kids are young yet, so it’s really up to you and Hubby to keep things straight and make sure everyone is juggled with precision. Except…Hubby seems to be about as clueless as the kids about when things need to be done. You find that having to remind him when he needs to cart which kids to which events is yet another thing that falls solely on your shoulders. You have inwardly and/or outwardly been very angry with him for not being on top of the household schedule like you are. After all, he lives there and those are his kids, too, right?
Scenario two: It seems like you’re the straight guy of the two parental units. It feels like you’re the one who nags about homework and chores and bedtime, while Hubby is the one who gets the good cred for wrestling with the kids and throwing them up into the air (and catching them, of course!) and making funny faces and hilarious bodily noises and getting the kids to belly laugh with his ridiculous antics. You have inwardly and/or outwardly been angry with him for making you look like the heavy, like a big, fat party pooper. After all, you’re taking care of all the important stuff and he just gets to play. In the eyes of the kids, you’re the meanie and he’s the fun one. It’s unfair and WTF?!?!
Both scenarios absolutely played out at our house. While Hubby and I rarely fight, I sure started a few good ones out of my frustration with these situations. Then two things happened, though not in the order I would have liked.
The first thing that happened is that Hubby took in all of my griping and bitching about the imbalance of it all and decided to make a change. He took it up on himself to make a calendar of everyone’s commitments and post it in a central area so we can all see what’s going on. He updates the calendar regularly and now sometimes even beats me to the punch when we’re talking what’s happening on a certain day. He also started taking care of some of the serious business with the kids. He assigns chores and keeps to bedtime deadlines and hands down discipline, if needed.
The second thing that happened is that I changed my perspective. I got to thinking about how I got mad at Hubby because he wasn’t as good at something as I was (managing the family’s schedule) and then I turned around and got mad at him when he was better at something than I was (having fun with the kids). Did someone say something about unfair? It finally occurred to me that the fact that we don’t have the same strengths didn’t have to be a bad thing. We weren't on opposing sides: we had each been contributing our strongest skill sets toward the same goal. Where I might have lacked, he stepped up; where he was unsure, I led the way. He was the yin to my yang. We bolstered each other's talents and natural inclinations and, by being good at different and separate things, we 1) didn't step on each other's toes (you know what they say about too many cooks in the kitchen) and 2) we were able to cover a lot of ground as a parental unit. And, in the end, our family got the benefit of the best we both had to offer.
He will probably always be the one the kids think is more fun. Well, truth be told, he is more fun, by far. But it's me they ask for when they want to be sung to sleep. I might still be the one who can keep the master schedule in my head at all times, but he'll always be ready and willing to execute the logistics any time I ask. When the clouds of selfishness and self-pity are lifted, the view is truly clear and bright.
I only wish I had gained my new way of seeing things before I harried poor Hubby as much as I did. But in the end, we both learned and grew from the experience. Ha! I write this as if it was something that has run its course. It hasn't. We're still in the thick of it and it still demands our attention and energy. But now that we've righted the ship, I think we're in for some smooth sailing.