Division of Labor

The mister and I have been talking a lot lately about who does what around here.

We’re both feeling pretty stretched: He works full time (and lately a lot more than full time); I work part time and have a number of big, stressful deadlines approaching all at once. It’s clear we’ve each got to hold down our own jobs; it’s the sorting out of baby- and home-related tasks we’re hung up on.

Somehow, I feel like I’m doing, oh, 90% of it. And he feels like we’re pretty close to a fair fifty-fifty.

It mystifies me. I don’t consider my husband any sort of traditional, patriarchal, housework-shirking guy. Nor do I consider him particularly clueless about what constitutes a fair division of labor. So why does he pretty much feel things are ok, while I sometimes feel so overburdened?

The night parenting (which—long story—falls pretty much entirely to me) is a particularly heavy part of it, and I do think the constant inadequate sleep is keeping me from being very charitable about much of anything. I think that bit actually is quite unbalanced and unfair. But beyond that, it’s hard to say what’s really a “fair” scheme. How would we quantify it, if we wanted to make a score card? How does a half-day in the office plus ten hours of baby play / diapers / bath / meal planning / laundry balance against 12 hours in the office? Does the value change if the person at home is too tired to even throw together a meal and we end up ordering pizza? Are there extra points for vacuuming?

My latest answer is that of course it can’t really be quantified, and that the only thing that’s going to make it feel right is constant respect, from each of us, that the other one is doing the absolute very best they can.

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