I read a post today in The New York Times called Getting Up In The Night Is Your Wife’s Job. It’s basically a young dad’s response to his mother when she seems confused by the fact that he wakes up to tend to his child in the night. Grandma comes from a different generation that thinks it’s always a mother’s job to do such things. It’s weird to think there are people who still even feel that way.
The father’s sentiment was sweet and true; both parents pretty much sign on for round-the-clock duty when they have kids. That’s how it should be. Not just for the division of labor – but for bonding purposes. My husband gets up for our kids in the night and it’s one thing they always miss when he is away. It wasn’t the sentiment of considering parenting an equal job that stuck with me, though. It was these few paragraphs:
Six years later, I still get up with my children. We have two of them now. I work in education, which means I have a white-collar education, but earn a blue-collar wage. I am an academic counselor at a traditional bricks-and-mortar university, sometimes I teach for that same university, and I teach two, sometimes three, classes at a time for an online university.
I get up early, and when papers are in, I come home late. Some days I don’t see my kids.
Mel’s busy too. She pregnant, a full-time mom of two, and a part-time student. I often come home late to find her in sweat pants, hunched over a keyboard, eyes bloodshot, both children asleep on the sofa, a movie on the TV.
This just depresses me – because it makes me realize how hard we all work. These paragraphs sound exhausting – and I read them through my own bloodshot eyes. And don’t think I’m just talking about parents, either. My sister works roughly eighty hours a week and my brother-in-law does the same. I’m not even sure how they could insert children into that life, although I know many, many people do. We’re all working our butts off.
When I really wrack my brain and think about it, I don’t know a single person who doesn’t feel completely overworked. I’m talking about people at many varying income levels, too. I can’t remember the last time I met someone who didn’t have nearly every minute of their day filled with varying obligations. Is this just adulthood – or is it really getting harder and harder to get by?
I’m glad this father comfortably shares parenting efforts with his wife, but is there a light at the end of the tunnel? A “white-collar education and a blue-collar wage” rings disturbingly true for way too many of us.