Thursday, February 7, 2008

Honey, You're Fired

WANTED: Supportive partner to help raise children and manage household. Must be proactive self-starter with ability to juggle multiple tasks with little to no supervision. Must be intuitive, nurturing, flexible and willing and able to shift plans on a moments notice. Positive, can-do attitude a plus.

About a year ago, I went back to work full-time. The timing wasn't ideal, but the opportunity presented itself and hubby was thrilled. Convinced I'm not happy unless I'm "in charge of alot of people, telling them what to do," hubby encouraged me to take the job (and the huge salary increase). To sweeten the deal, he promised to "step up" and "do whatever it takes" to "do his part" to help with my other full-time gig as a mom.

Despite his very good intentions and best efforts, I finally realized that he's just not the right guy for the mommy job. The evidence has been mounting:

Inability to follow instructions (or poor listening skills). Example: Last week, it was hubby's turn to stay home with a sick DD#1. Before I left for work, I gave explicit instructions: give her two more Tylenol tablets anytime after 11 am. Still, when I returned home at 2 pm, I found a feverish daughter laid out on the couch. When asked "Why didn't you give her the Tylenol?" hubby replied "I wasn't sure if or when I could give her anything." Hello? Two tablets? 11 am? Ring a bell?

Example #2: the very sad towel incident with DD#2 last month.

Total lack of intuition and initiative. Example: Also last week, it was hubby's turn to take DD#2, who we thought was fully recovered from the same flu bug, to preschool in the morning. DD#2 was still sleeping when I left the house for work, which immediately set off my mommy radar that something was wrong, but I opted not to wake her. A mid-day call from the preschool teacher confirmed my suspicions. DD#2 wasn't acting herself and felt warm to the touch. When asked whether DD#2 mentioned anything about feeling sick when she woke up, hubby said, "Yeah, she said something about being sick last night, but I didn't think anything of it."

Inability to perform duties without constant supervision. Example: After convincing hubby he needed to take DD#1 back to the doctor (which required a federal case and much yelling), I had to make the appointment and, despite him having been to the pediatrician's office several times, I had to give him detailed instructions on how to get there, what to do when he arrived, who to ask for and what to tell the doctor/nurse. I then called him 30 minutes before the appointment to make sure he had all the instructions straight. Good thing I did. ("What's the name of this place called again? Who do I ask for? What do I tell them?")

I could go on. One thing is for sure...I most definitely do not enjoy being in charge of anyone who cannot carry out their duties as assigned. I have serious doubts about whether I can manage the paying job and the mommy job all on my own, but that's another post for another day.

Right now my task seems very clear -- honey, I love you. You're fired.


Kady said...

OMG! Are you married to my DH? And the worst part? My DH doesn't recognize his ineptitude when it comes to being a caretaker. And when I try to address it, he gives me a lotta 'tude.

mom2amara said...

Boys will always be boys. And they can never take the place of good ol' mom. We may loves our DH's but I'm with you. Fire 'em!

FI0NA said...

You sound human

Amy Vachon said...

Funny (and sad) anecdotes. But I wonder if you gave the experiment enough time. And more importantly, if you truly let go of your manager role. I suspect your husband knew in his gut (there's his intuition!) that you were still in charge, and that you'd pick up the slack if he wasn't performing up to par. And that the only way he could do things was YOUR way.

If you want a real partner, an equal, you have to act the part yourself. I truly don't mean to criticize, but if you want to give it another try...

If this appeals at all (and there is no 'right' and 'wrong' here, so you can happily continue as primary parent instead), you may want to check out my (and my husband's) website:

It takes a lot of out-of-the-box thinking to get to equality, but at least for us the rewards have been mighty.

Up With Dads, too!

Best wishes,

Amy@UWM said...

Amy, thanks for visiting and commenting. This post was a snapshot in time. We tried our "parent partnership" experiment for a good year. I'd be lying if I said that I never got frustrated with the way he did things. But the bigger issue was that he just couldn't take on responsibilities with full independence (and yes, I did let go to allow him to step up). He couldn't see things that needed to be done unless they were pointed out (like recognizing when our daughter was sick). And many of the things he was assigned required a great deal of hand holding (like the doctor's visit). That's not to say that he's completely off the hook now. He's still got plenty of "assignments" like making lunches, feeding our dog, making breakfast for our daughters and taking them to school. But they're the simpler repetitive things that don't require alot of detail or nuance.

Having been a professional people manager for many years, I've learned that people have their strengths, weaknesses and capabilities. If you put people in positions that require skills they don't have, they'll inevitably fail. My husband simply isn't capable of being the true independent parent partner I'd love for him to be. I agree with Avi Spivack on Work It, Mom! that it's the rare man that is. So I've chosen to let go of the ideal and play to my husband's strengths rather than continually being disappointed and frustrated with the reality.

I do regret that this post and this comment don't tell the full story about my husband. For the record he is the BEST life partner -- He is my best friend, my greatest supporter, a tremendous provider and a loving and devoted
husband and father.

JohnMcG said...

I think it might be time to let go of the towel incident. I suspect your daughter already has.

Are you so sure you have never made a similar mistake?

Mom's mistakes are known to Mom alone and Mom deals with them. When Dad makes a mistake, it goes on his permanent record.