By now, I imagine that most CSP readers have seen (and forwarded to their spouses) the recent Huffington Post article “7 Reasons Your Wife Is Stressed Out All the Time”. It went viral. Naturally, my wife pointed the article out to me and I got a good laugh out of it. Here is why: over the past year of blogging, I have pretty much covered most of the topics the author hits upon and after some reflection, it is clear to me why my wife is stressed out all the time…ME. If only I’d read this article earlier, my life (and hers) would be different.
I’ve decided to go back to school and do a short answer response to each of her reasons with my perspective as a stay-at-home dad. Her reasons are in bold. My summary of her paragraph is in italics and my ‘short answer’ follows, sometimes in complete sentences.
1. Women are judged differently than men are. Men have it easier than women.
My kids wear mismatched socks and my son has bedhead most days and yet people still talk to me. My daughters are starting to realize how far I have led them astray fashion-wise over the years (my son…not so much). After reading this article, I can only hope I have time to undo the damage! I’ve recently been seen purchasing clothes for my kids at Old Navy, Justice and the American Girl Store instead of relying on hand-me-downs from their cousins and Wal-Mart clearance specials (not that there’s anything wrong with that – where do they think I shop?). Heck – I even went with my eleven year-old to Lululemon to purchase a headband (here I must mention that the enthusiastic twenty-something cashier cheerfully explained to me EXACTLY how to use their credit card machine, as if I’ve never seen one before. I felt judged…)
2. Judgment matters. It’s important for your kids to feel “normal” and it takes a lot of “behind the scenes” work to help them fit in and it’s exhausting.
If this is truly the case, my kids have big problems! We don’t do “normal.” I’m a full-time stay-at-home dad (common to only 4% of U.S. households that have a stay-at-home parent). I have four kids (like only 6% of U.S. households). By my calculations, we represent less than 0.3% of households in the U.S., so my wife must be REALLY stressed out trying to compensate for our inherent oddness, and my kids must be suffering. What this says to me is that there is a secret ‘mom code’ that defines normalcy. I can occasionally decipher some of the mom code when I try hard enough, but it’s like fashion, and is always changing. I am just an innocent bystander caught in the crossfire. Fortunately my two oldest daughters are being indoctrinated in the code at school and keep me ‘informed.’ BTW, if anyone has a copy of the code they would let me borrow, I promise to return it.
3. Women are often more intuitive than men. You think you know what’s going on but you really don’t.
You mean a smiling “Bless your heart” isn’t a compliment? Another reason I need to find a copy of that mom code.
4. Women need more sleep than men. Self-explanatory.
I worked hard at this over the years. When my wife was an associate and then a partner in a law firm, working late nights when our kids were small, I tried to be a good husband/dad and got up with the kids at night for ten long years. It was exhausting. Nothing is more fun than a 3 a.m. soccer session with a two year-old that wants to work on her dribbling skills. We have four kids and are still on speaking terms, so this worked out well for us…I think. (See #3.)
5. Women know that housework matters. Women use housekeeping acumen as a proxy for parenting ability.
I’m an engineer and I’ve always seen myself as a DIY type guy. This is a tough one for me. I don’t see a cluttered house as a problem as much as an opportunity for process improvement and, if I can only find the right system, I can do it all myself. I believe I can fly too. I can take care of the big things like the kitchen, bathrooms and laundry (just-in-time delivery), but it’s the clutter and crafts that bring down my scores. I also blame the educational system and homework for the condition of my house since my kids prefer to spend time on homework rather than doing chores.
6. Your wife wants to feel heard. Self-explanatory. Her concerns should be my concerns.
Got it, but I just want to be heard also and have my kids listen, follow directions and clean up their messes, do chores and have a clean house so my wife won’t be stressed about being judged harshly for the condition of our house when it’s actually MY responsibility. (See #5.)
7. Your wife is Type A, and that’s partly why you married her. Deep down you knew she was like this.
Absolutely! I needed to find someone to help me feel like a laid back guy. 😉