Last week, I sat in an office waiting to be called in for an annual parent teacher conference and checking my watch. My son is doing well in school so the conference was called purely for administrators to check off boxes. The longer I sat, the more anxious I felt about the work I should be finishing and the deadlines approaching.
I pictured my husband in his office, being productive, and I stewed.
Over our years of raising children, as child care needs have cropped up, my husband and I have negotiated who would handle them. The negotiations often turn into arguments over who has more on their plate, more flexibility at work, and inevitably, whose salary is more critical to our household income.
More often, the negotiations (arguments) end when I agree to “take one for the team.” Some days, I resent it.
My working mother friends in households with two employed parents tell me they, too, struggle with sharing family responsibilities 50-50. A teacher friend told me she has used up her allotted days off staying home with her sick son who has been battling bronchitis off and on almost the entire school year. Her husband claims his boss will dock him pay if he misses a day of work. She’s worried she is about to lose her position as grade leader. Being there for a child and living up to the demands of bosses and clients is no easy feat for a mom or dad. Although men are taking on more childcare responsibility, women still “take one for the team” more often.
Lately, I’ve been surprised at how much this inequality bothers men in supervisory roles. A male friend who manages a radio station recently complained about a mother on his staff who has had to leave early several times in the last few weeks to handle childcare emergencies. “Why doesn’t her husband take a turn?” he asked me. “Yeah, why doesn’t he?” I responded, wondering if this situation would make my friend any more likely to pitch in with childcare emergencies in his household.
Unfortunately, when mothers take time off to handle childcare needs too frequently, they are viewed as uncommitted to their jobs or not serious about their careers. It is the reason more mothers are looking carefully at flexibility in our workplaces and resources our employers provide such as paid sick leave.
So, I’m wonder what your thoughts are on taking one for the team. Is this something you argue about with your significant other? How do you think who handles childcare needs should be decided? Do you take one for the team more often than your spouse and end up resenting it?