Working Moms vs. Working Dads
Are We Just Wired Differently?
If you’ve been following my Facebook page, then you know we’ve been struggling with Adolpha’s health for several months now. (Side note: Thank you to everyone who has reached out, sent cards and gifts, texted, called, all of it. I appreciate how much you care about her.)
I am thrilled to tell you that she is making HUGE strides and things are on an upward trajectory. School started a bit ago and she’s attending—sorta. It’s crazy because this year she wants to be in school. She hops out of bed every morning to put on whatever cute outfit she set out the night before. She’s happy to go off to school and she remembers some of the people there. But we’re having trouble keeping her there all day. Between extreme fatigue, constant fainting, and a few non-epileptic seizures thrown in for good measure, she’s never been in school for an entire day yet.
Every day we drop her off and we expect that she (or the school) will call us within a few hours to let us know she’s cooked and needs to come home. Some days it’s faster than others. I literally sit here with my phone set to my loudest ringer mode and hold my breath.
The Hubs, on the other hand, is chill. Way too chill.
The Hubs probably doesn’t care if you subscribe, but my anxiety will go through the roof if you don’t.
The difference between moms and dads is so evident when you see how we act. I dropped her off today and when I got home I told the Hubs I needed to take a shower. For one reason or another, I had not made it into the shower yet for a couple of days and I was desperate.
He said, “Okay, but I don’t know why you’re telling me this.”
I said, “Well, with my luck, the school will call while I’m in the shower. I need you to be available to talk to them if they call.”
He frowned. “I can’t do that. I have a call.”
“Yeah, but you can just say, ‘Excuse me for a minute, that’s my child’s school. I need to take this call.’”
He grimaced. “I don’t think so.” He glanced at his watch. “I need to get on my call.”
“Well, listen for my phone. Just in case,” I said.
I got in the shower (swearing under my breath the whole way, because what the fuck?). Just when I was all lathered up with shampoo in my hair the phone rang. Just as I’d feared. I knew it had to be the school because the only other person who ever calls me is my mother and I’ve already talked to her today. I waited for half a second to see if the Hubs would possibly put his call on hold and answer the phone.
The phone rang again. He didn’t make an appearance.
“Damn it,” I muttered, rinsing the soap out of my eyes and grabbing a towel. Thank god it wasn’t a video call.
Of course, it was the school.
I stood there naked, soaking wet, cold, shampoo dripping into my eyes talking to Adolpha. I tried to walk the fine line of being sympathetic to her struggles, but also reassuring her that she’s a badass and she can make it through the next hour.
I hung up the phone and I could hear the Hubs on his call, blithely unaware that our child had even called.
I hopped back in the shower and drew several dicks on the steamy glass.
When I complain to him later, he will tell me it was a “work” call. I don’t doubt it was. It sounded very worky. But that shouldn’t matter. I’m not denying it was a work call. That’s not my issue.
I realize my shower wasn’t “work,” but there have been countless times that I’ve put work on hold to take calls from my kids. I’ve muted Zoom meetings to talk to my kids. I’ve had dozens of coffees, lunches, and dinners interrupted by my kids. I even answered a call once just before I went on stage to speak to a roomful of people—I was super pissed that time because it was Adolpha calling from the bathroom to tell me she needed me to bring her a new roll of toilet paper.
“I’m in another state,” I whispered. “Call your dad!”
I take their calls, especially if I know there are special circumstances like Adolpha’s situation right now.
Why are his work calls more important than my work calls? Why do men’s work calls take precedence over women’s work calls? Why do his work calls take precedence over our kids? Am I wrong to think that he can put his work call on hold for three minutes to talk to our kid?
I interview a lot of working moms on my podcast and I can’t tell you how many times we’ve had to stop taping because they got a phone call from a kid. I am never offended. I am never put off. I get it. Their kids come first. Women understand completely. Are you telling me men don’t? Would a man really be that irritated if another man took a call from his kid or does the Hubs not want to take the call because he knows I will?
Growing up, my mom stayed at home with my brother and me, so we never called our dad. I don’t think I even knew his work number. But it’s different now. Many women work outside the home. We work outside the home but many of us are still the primary parent. We’re typically the ones who take time off to take kids to the dentist. We’re the ones who sign the kids up for extracurriculars. I don’t think the Hubs has ever put lunch money on either of our kids’ accounts or helped them pack for a trip.
Now, before you think the Hubs isn’t doing a very good job, let me stop you right there. When Adolpha first got sick I was very, very, very overwhelmed. Her symptoms were highly unusual and after taking her to her pediatrician who basically shrugged and said, “I dunno” I was beyond worried. And when I am stressed out I go into hermit mode. I want to go back to bed and put off all the shit I need to do until tomorrow. I become overwhelmed trying to figure out what to do first and where to start looking for answers.
The Hubs could see that I was reaching my breaking point quickly and he asked what he could do to help me. I told him I needed him to take on the doctor stuff. “I need you to find the right doctors, make the appointments, deal with the insurance company, all that stuff.”
He looked surprised. He’d never been that parent before. But I just couldn’t do it.
Organization and research are the Hubs thing, so he was happy to take that on. “I just don’t do paperwork,” he said. “I don’t know all the family history bullshit, plus your handwriting is better.” (Side note, WHY are doctors still asking us to fill out paperwork by hand?? And WHY are we filling out shit in triplicate? I put our home address and phone number on the first page, why do they need it again on the third page??)
He does do a lot, but it seems like he uses the “work” card more than I do—or at least when it’s things he doesn’t want to do. And he stays way too relaxed for me. Yes, I feel like everything is an emergency, but he feels like nothing is worth getting out of his chair for. Why are men like this? Why are women like this??
Is this just how it is? Are we just wired differently?
Maybe it’s a good thing. If we were both running around screaming and crying, nothing would get done, right? But I kind of wish at least once I could take a shower without worrying he won’t answer the phone.
UPDATE: The Hubs has no idea I’m writing this, but as I was putting the finishing touches on, he literally walked into my office and offered to take Adolpha to her doctor’s appointment this afternoon so I could get some work done. It’s like he knew what I was writing! Damn him and his intuition! Now I’m the asshole. Oh well, what else is new, right?