America has horrible parental leave policies. Really, the absolute pits. In an ideal world, both parents should be given time off from work to stay home and care for the new baby, try and rest, and not stress out about their job.
But moms are sent back usually after 12 weeks, often still recovering from labor as well as currently nursing, and dads are made fun of if they want to take extra time to be with their new child.
On Reddit’s AITA forum, one stay-at-home dad feels like his working wife doesn’t appreciate the effort he’s putting in and wishes she would stop making jokes about his caretaking.
“My wife and I both work. Only difference is she actually goes into the office and I’m still working from home. We have a 10 month old daughter and I’ve been basically a stay at home dad on top of working my regular day job. It was stressful as hell when my wife finished up her maternity leave but luckily my work is pretty flexible so I’m not usually super busy,” the OP writes.
“Most of the day, I’m replying to emails on my phone with my daughter in her carrier or taking conference calls while she’s napping. I also do the cleaning around the house because I’m a total neat freak and order or cook dinner too if I have the time. Then in the evenings my wife takes over so I have some leisure time.”
The OP explains that he and his wife went to have lunch at his wife’s sister’s house—the first time they had seen each other in a long time. They’re all chatting about life with the new baby, and the OP’s wife starts cracking some jokes that aren’t too funny.
“My wife starts jokes about the house being a mess when she gets home and her having to clean it up because I’ve been too busy playing with our daughter all day to do it myself. When her sister’s husband asked how I manage I admitted it does get overwhelming sometimes and my wife once again chimed in saying I call her constantly throughout the day over little things…She also laughed about how everyday when she gets home she just prays I didn’t burn the house down. I know it was all said in a lighthearted joking around way, but it really hurt my feelings.”
The OP wasn’t happy that it seemed like his wife wasn’t taking his efforts seriously, so he told her that he didn’t appreciate her acting like he was useless when he is the one making sure the house and baby are taken care of all day.
“My wife didn’t know how to respond to that and we changed the subject. She was in a serious mood after we left because I ’embarrassed’ her and it wouldn’t have hurt for me to let her joke around a little because she knows I help out a lot. I’ve been distant with her, not talking much when she gets home and she’s mad at me for taking it too seriously. Even her sister says I’m overreacting, but I just don’t see why she thought it was okay to paint me as the cliche useless man-child husband.”
What did Redditors think?
“Put it this way, if the situation was flipped, and you were the “salary man” and your wife was a SAHM, how would those comments go down in front of her family? Would they still find it funny that you’re implying that the mother of your child was useless at home? If it’s not funny in reverse, it’s not funny. She needs to apologise for undermining you then you guys can move forward,” said jadez7789.
“NTA but your wife sure is. She’s undermining your efforts! You’re doing your best man, and it’s only a joke if it’s funny to both parties. Otherwise it’s just being mean. Your wife need take a second and wonder why she’s embarrassed. Here’s the answer. Because she knows you told the truth and she’s embarrassed you called her out instead of going along with her “jokes” that makes her look like the better parent. You keep doing what you’re doing, and make sure to have a serious talk with her when tempers are a little calmer, alright? You sound like a good dad, btw,” said Far-Bug8226.
“She probably feels guilty and insecure about being a working mom and you being the primary caretaker (because hello, she is a woman and lives in a society that expects things to be the other way around). She is an asshole for taking it out on you and needs to take responsibility for her actions and apologize to you. You two need to sit down and discuss things and you are indeed owed an apology,” advised Lopsided_Marketing.
“The question is, why does your wife feel it’s okay to downplay your efforts and make jokes about the lifestyle that you both agreed to? Why has she decided that it’s okay? Is it because she underestimates what you do, or wants you to do more because you’re ‘at home’, or is it because she feels that she ‘ought to be’ the SAHP and feels guilt that you’re so good at child & home care? Mothers have been socialised to feel guilt for going back to work, maybe by pretending that you’re helpless at home she is mitigating her guilt. Ask her. ‘Do I not clean enough around the house?’ ‘Do I call you too frequently while you’re at work?’ ‘Are you truly scared that I’ll burn the house down?’ If the answers are yes, then ‘why did you not communicate that to me privately and respectfully, rather than joking about me in public? Tell me what issues you have and I’ll work on them.’ If the answers are no, ‘Then why would you repeatedly imply that I am not coping, when you think that I am? I understand that you love me and didn’t intend to upset me but I need to know why you thought those jokes were funny,'” suggested spidersinyourbrains.
“I agree NTA but I think she DOES know how much work it is. I think that’s why she made the jokes. So often we see women feeling guilty for not filling that traditional full time caretaker role. I think she might have been insecure in front of her family, to admit her husband was doing so much of the work while she was away from the family. (Absolutely nothing wrong with her working away from the kids!) I feel like her ‘jokes’ were just overcompensating for her feelings that her family might be judgmental about their non-standard parenting roles, so she wanted to paint herself as super important to running the day to day household. Still was a sh**ty thing to do, of course,” said aquariummmm.
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