Fairness does not mean 50/50
“Fairness in housework doesn’t mean 50/50”. That’s the headline of the WSJ article by Eve Rodsky that made my heart sing.
I’m a scorekeeper. It wasn’t so bad when it was just my husband and I, but when our son came along my red pen came out in full force.
Here’s how that went: Today I did eighteen loads of laundry and washed a gazillion bottles. You took out the trash. Therefore, I get more gold stars AND I WIN.
It will come as no surprise that I came out on top every day in that competition. While I was chalking up my wins, though, our marriage was losing.
And here’s the thing; my husband does a LOT. The complaining I’ve done about him is nothing compared to what I’ve heard from other moms. He just wasn’t doing as much as me, so I was mad. All the time. At him, at the customer service rep who put me on hold, at the guy who cut me off in traffic, at the barista who messed up my order, at the world.
Basically, I was miserable and thus hellbent on making everyone around me miserable too. Because fair is fair, especially when life is not.
Giving up on the idea of 50/50 is the only thing that saved me. 50/50 is a myth when it comes to parenting and household responsibilities. The hard truth to swallow is that I will likely always be doing a little bit more (and sometimes a lot). What has made all the difference is not equality, but accountability.
This is Eve Rodsky’s whole premise: that the mental load we face as mothers doesn’t come from simply doing more, it comes from our partners not taking full ownership of the things they DO do.
They watch the kids while we go to the gym but text us to ask what to feed them for lunch.
They take off work for a school event because we put it on their calendar and reminded them about it that morning.
They go to the grocery store but have no idea what we’re out of or what we need for the week if we don’t give them a list.
You get the idea.
Sanity comes from having a partner who takes full ownership of whatever he’s doing for the household. And you know what? They can do this. They don’t need our help.
Because the other secret for encouraging full ownership of tasks is to KEEP YOUR MOUTH SHUT.
Dinner’s on the table at six? Great, who cares that we’ve eaten the same thing three times already this week.
You washed the colors with the whites? Ah well, everyone has clean underwear.
You brought a bottle of tequila as our gift to a two-year-old’s birthday party? Well, we’re either about to be black-listed on the daycare party circuit or become really popular.
I joke, but enabling my husband take ownership of these things has done wonders for his confidence as a father, not to mention changed the entire tone of our marriage.
Now, things may never be 50/50, but most days I honestly don’t care. Instead of a competition, it feels like we’re on the same team, urging each other forward, taking on more of the load when the other one needs to rest, knowing that when we reach the summit, we’ll have done it together instead of pushing each other off the mountain.
Like this post? Subscribe here so you won’t miss others like it.