I’ve received a strong reaction from loyal readers, about my response to a woman in my January 2 column. It deserves a full discussion here:
The woman, 34, wrote about having two children, ages three and 15 months, and working part-time after two maternity leaves from a better job in her field.
She described being “stuck at home” with crying kids, feeling “overwhelmed.”
Her husband works full-time, arrives home late, spends ten minutes with them, eats a leisurely dinner and goes out with friends. She’s too tired to join them.
I felt compassion for her, having once been in a similar position – stuck home with young, fussy kids, with a then-husband whose job truly required unusually long hours.
I knew then, and have seen over the years since, that it’s essential to rule out post-partum depression, as a starter.
PPD can sap an exhausted, overwhelmed mother’s confidence and drive to find ways to handle or seek changes in her current situation.
I encouraged this writer to find time for her own needs and interests, and to stay fit… all suggestions admittedly mostly aimed at her well-being, because her letter sounded so hopeless.
That’s a worrisome mood for anyone to endure, and especially for a mother of youngsters.
However, I regret that I didn’t go on to drop a second question, and use that space to address the matter of her husband’s taking a free pass and not relieving her in caring for their kids.
Even if his job is in an essential service and demanding, he can take over parenting time on weekends, stay home most nights with her and be a companion, do some laundry, cook, participate in their joint role of raising a family.
As one thoughtful reader wrote me, “Yes he worked all day, but so did she. He got paid in cash, she made an investment in their future.
“He can pick up that baby as well as anyone and needs to be taught how to do it.”
Though I mentioned looking to “her own needs,” I would hope she’d find a Mothers’ Group where she’d get to share ideas and strategies with other women in the same situation.
Their companionship and tips could encourage her to seek a better schedule and situation, and likely urge her to speak up to her husband about pitching in, too.
Since she’s working part-time, she must have some child-care help, and could extend this to allow time for self-care – whether to see friends, or do something on her own.
Here are some of the readers’ comments worth repeating:
Reader #1 - “She very well may have depression, but what she's really got is a third child who needs a swift kick to his “grow-up-and-act-like-a-parent” switch.”
Reader #2 – “If the situation goes on long term, where one parent has 95% of the responsibility for the children while the other gets to goof off with friends, the marriage will eventually suffer.”
Reader #3 – “Why didn't he take paternity leave for their second child so she could go back to her career? Why is he going out with friends while she does the child-rearing?”
Reader #4 – “One year of mat leave is wonderful for children in families where children are seen as a shared project.
“Alone, it’s a recipe for madness for women who are accustomed to being intelligent and engaged.
“If you’re unsatisfied working part-time, and/or staying at home with the kids, go back to work full-time. Having children doesn't mean you have to be a stay-at-home-Mom.”
I’ve reconnected with a man I met 10 years ago in university. I was uninterested then.
After three months’ dating, I’m very fond of him and interested in a relationship.
We’ve spent wonderful weekends together (we live in different cities). We’ve talked about short-term and long-term plans together.
We both admitted to falling in love.
We spent an incredible week together over the holidays.
Days later, he sent a long message that he really enjoyed being with me but must follow his feeling that we’re not meant to be together.
You have every right to be angry… and/or grateful.
After confessing to “falling in love,” he owed you a fuller explanation – whether he’s not ready for the complexities of long-distance or moving, or he prefers being on his own, or he’s always had someone else waiting… whatever.
Instead, he’s sneaking away without full honesty and responsibility.
It’s about him, not you.
He’s no candidate for long-term commitment.
Tip of the day:
Intelligent and thoughtful feedback by readers is appreciated.