Does Your Husband Clock Out?
March 26, 2009
An average night in the Cheung household looks kind of like this:
7pm: Phillip puts Molly to bed.
7:30pm: Maggie puts Jack to bed. Unless Maggie wants to blog, or cook dinner, or shop online, or talk on the phone, or eat bon bons, or paint her toenails and then Phillip puts Jack to bed.
8pm - 11pm: Phillip and Maggie eat dinner, watch TV and camp out in front of their respective laptops. If Molly wakes up and wants to eat, Phillip will give her a bottle. Phillip is still on Molly Duty even though she now reliably takes a bottle and the, uh, nursing station is officially shut down.
11:30pm: Phillip and Maggie turn out the light.
12am: Molly wakes up. Phillip gets up and either gives her a bottle or plugs her up with the pacifier.
3am: Molly wakes up. Phillip and Maggie groggily discuss their options. Nine times out of ten Phillip gets out of bed first.
6am: Molly wakes up, probably for the day. Phillip and Maggie groggily discuss their options. When the squawking reaches that grating and high pitched Stop! Ignoring! Me! level, Phillip offers to take her downstairs. Nine times out of then Maggie then stumbles out of bed and takes the baby downstairs, because 1) she is a morning person and 2) maybe she doesn't feel guilty NOW but she totally would if Phillip did all the nighttime work AND got up early.
What does this tell us, other than the fact that these parents need to suck it up and let this baby cry? That the DAD does 99% of the nighttime parenting.
It's just how it tends to work out, Phillip being a night person and me being a morning person and all that. I don't give it a lot of thought. Not until I get a random email or comment from a blog reader asking me what I use to bribe my husband into getting up with the baby in the middle of the night. Or I talk with friends whose husbands are happily drooling on their pillows in the early morning hours while they're walking the baby zombie-like around the living room.
Is my husband such a rare breed? A species of man who consistently gets out of bed at 3am to deal with an inconsolable child? Without being asked?
(Should I tell you about the time Phillip took care of a Barf In The Crib incident without even waking me up? No? You're already maxed out on the jealousy scale?)
I don't need all the swooning my mother and grandmother do over Phillip's willingness to change diapers and watch the kids on his own to make me aware of his saintly parenting qualities. But I thought that was a generational thing. I assume the dads my age -- late twenties and early thirties -- have been steeping in the same gender equality stuff I grew up with. They know about Pitching In and Helping Around The House. I challenge you to find a mom who thinks her husband handles an equal amount of the childcare drudgery, but even so, the dads I know are changing, feeding, bathing and putting to bed. They're great dads and no slouches when it comes to baby duty. So I'm truly surprised at the number of women I know who are doing 100% of the nighttime parenting. What's happening there?
I'm sorry to say I don't have the secret. I don't bribe him, I don't even have to ask. Perhaps I've parlayed the Extreme Unfairness of his ability to fall asleep within seconds into only getting out of bed if I absolutely HAVE to -- maybe you could try that. How does the nighttime parenting get divvied up in your house?