Upset by Mumsnet - please cheer me up!(147 Posts)
So, I started having a look at Mumsnet a month or so ago. My husband and I are thinking of trying for our first child in the next few months, and I was Googling some conception advice (alright, alright, I was actually trying to find out whether I really needed to give up drinking while we tried) and Mumsnet came up. I have become a bit addicted, particularly to AIBU. I know, I know.
Anyway, while I have been enjoying reading it (I've always loved problem pages, etc.) it's also been making me feel really depressed and even panicky about post-baby life. So many partners who see everything to do with babies as not their job, so many women giving up work so that they can dust four fucking times a day, so many women whose lives and worlds seem to have got so, so small. I tell myself it won't be like that for me, that my husband (who is far from perfect, but who is a proud feminist who has never seen us as anything but equals) isn't like that. We're planning to do shared parental leave, so I'd only be at home for five-ish months, and then we're hoping he could drop down to part-time longer term. I earn quite a bit more so it makes financial sense for us; I guess there's also some ideology there too for me. BUT I'm still scared that having a baby might turn me into 'wifey', I guess. So, please tell me that I'm being silly, that you can be a feminist mum (and a feminist dad) and that equal parenting isn't just a pipe dream!
It's not a pipe dream. You only hear about people who have problems on here. The ones who have no issue and have a balanced relationship dont post saying how good it is!
My experience (sorry) was that it took a bit of fighting from my side BUT it got solved and I have a lovely DH who is taking on his side of the deal.
Your strength here is that you know about potential pitfalls and you clearly already gave a nice balanced organisation. You are unlikely to end up in the situations described on MN.
Equal parenting isn't a pipe dream but you do have to work for it.
Having children is wonderful, really wonderful but it changes your relationships, not just with your DH but with your own parents, your PILs and your friends.
It's hard to prepare for parenthood because with the best will in the world you gave no idea what it is like before you've done it, but you should assume that becoming a parent is a completely new life.
Once you have a baby your old life is gone. You can never go back to
It. That doesn't mean that the new life is worse or harder but it is definitely different.
You will have to deal with a new baby, a new body and a new you.
It's all totally do-able but it can be a shock to the system.
Btw be careful about being so dismissive of SAHP's - there's rather more to it than "dusting".
then we're hoping he could drop down to part-time longer term
Check he can definitely do this. Do some financial planning together to make your plan work.
And remember, you can still be a feminist even if you give up your job to dust four time a fucking day!
I've never heard anyone on here say they stay at home so they can clean four times a day.
I know that many women live with partners who will not contribute to family life, but that makes their lives difficult not small.
Shared parental leave is amazing, it's great for giving both of you space to find your own parenting/working balance and seeing both sides of the fence. We did it, my DH while I was on Mat leave came out with some gems about how much cleaner the house would be while he was off (it wasn't) and I thought I'd be happy to come in from work straight into baby care rather than fucking off upstairs to "get changed" like him (I wasn't).
I think you need to watch for falling into the trap of thinking a) you have to do it all to be successful ie house must be tidy, baby must be happy, sleeping, you must have an active fulfilling sex life. Its bollocks. When you are on Mat leave, go out and do stuff, don't just sit there feeling deal for not doing housework and mumsnetting instead (that could be just me). Then there's less expectation you will be at home cleaning/doing laundry etc 2) watch for thinking you know how to parent better than him (I mean happy changing, getting dressed, that kind of thing. I was also guilty of this with ds1). The less one parent does, the less confident they become to do it.
Tbh the reason I have such a shared set up is my dh wants that too. Sounds like yours does as well. You will be fine.
Right, I'm going to hoover
You can parent however you choose if you and your partner are in agreement. However be aware that you simply cannot anticipate how you are going to feel once your baby arrives, I used to think a bit like you that my world would shrink if I stopped work, in fact my world has grown enormously since having children. I have more friends than I've ever had in my life, more hobbies, am more involved in my local community, am better informed about the world at large and all because of being a parent. I have continued to work in the same career (albeit part time), but it's not the be all and end all, my life outside work is so much richer now. I have plenty of friends who are SAHP and none of them dust 4 times a day, they are far too busy.
I'm sorry for the comments about dusting. I was thinking of the Mumsnet 'how often do you wash your towels' threads, where people do seem to say they do totally mad amounts of cleaning. I realise that that's not what most SAHPs do, and I also know (well, I know it intellectually, but I'm sure it'll still come as a shock to me!) that when you're looking after small children there is no time for dusting at all!
On the part-time thing: we know we can afford it, it's more a question of whether his work will allow it. They sort of have to, I think; he's a teacher and a lot of his female colleagues work part-time. He would be the only male part-timer in the school, though, and he thinks there might be some cultural resistance and that his HoD might refuse on logistical grounds.
And thank you for all the replies so far! It really is helpful - as someone said, this is just a step into the unknown to a degree that nothing else in my life has been.
I have a DH who, like yours, is very hands on and open to sharing. BUT it was still a huge shock to the system having a child, and things he said and I thought he would do did not happen as I thought they would when DD was born.
Don't underestimate the pressure it puts on your relationship...just check out the sleep threads for how sleep deprivation can drive you mad. We had a tiny premature baby that didn't nap AT ALL for 4 months. Who fed every one or two hours for 6 months. We couldnt have predicted that.
You also can't predict how becoming a mother blindsides you...you change fundamentally whether you like it or not. And the world's perception of you changes too. Your previous persona changes and that is challenging in a relationship.
Don't get me wrong, now he is brilliant, very hands on, thinks nothing of taking DD out for the day on his won, will care for her alone her for a week whilst I go on hols with a girlfriend...he is brilliant..mind you she's 3 now and very easy, we do have our old lives back. But that took around 2 years.
And in those early hideous sleep deprived newborn months that went on and on and on, we battled.
My world shrunk when I had the dcs and was a SAHM. I hated it.
But yes I agree that you can't tell from the outset how you are going to feel. You will have an inkling but the reality might be very different.
Also agree about 'working at it' because we all have some default positions that we revert to when we are tired etc... Mine was to try and do everything by myself and to not ask for help/support. Big mistake because it meant DH didn't see the need to change some of his 'habits' (read number of times he was doing his hobbies etc) because I was telling him that was OK for me (even if it wasn't)....
DH had a tendency to fall back on stereotypical attitudes (that were much easier for him) when he could which compounded the situation.
Margaret it sounds (excuse me if I've misinterpreted) like you are someone who likes to always be in control of everything (nothing wrong with that I am too) however the idea of being "in control" pretty much goes out of the window as soon as you are pregnant let alone gave a baby.
It's hard to prepare for but it is character building.
TBH, I think there are some stuff you can agree on on the outset.
I agreed with DH that we should share the getting up in the night, regardless of whether he was working or not and I was working or not. I knew that lack of sleep was a killer for me and I would need help.
You can lay out some rough rules. let's say, we will do the HW at their weekend together as we do it. Or I shall look after the shopping but you do the ironing. Or we will swap who is putting our DC to bed/give him or her a bath in the evening etc...
You know that some of the 'rules' might not work (eg if you are bfing) but having agreed to that, it's much easier to have a chat about it when it DOES become possible to do so (eg I bfed dc2, got up at night for the first 6 months at which point it was clear he was waking up but not for food so the 'we take turns in getting up' was much easier to implement iyswim)
My DH and I do pretty much equal parenting and housework (in fact, he probably does more around the house than I do), but he's not the issue, I am!
When we first had children, I was the higher earner, but I am not any more. The children have ruined my career . Partly because I keep taking maternity leaves (just about to start my third) and haven't had a pay rise since the first was born and partly because I care more about being at home with them than I do about being in the office. I went back part time after baby 2 because I just couldn't leave them 5 days a week in childcare.
I do miss being the career high flyer and my dh and I have acknowledged that whilst my career has been torpedoed, me being at home more has made it easier for him to focus on his work and he keeps getting promoted and with pay rises which means he spends less time at home but also gives us a nice, comfortable life.
No one can tell you how you're going to feel after having a baby - I work with plenty of women who's careers haven't suffered but they're willing to put in the hours where I am not. It all depends on how you feel about things after your children come along.
I've never been happier, I love my life and my dc and I wouldn't change the decisions I've made to get here! It's just not quite how I expected it to be!!
I think if you've mainly been reading AIBU you will have a very particular view of Mumsnet and parenting.
Most people who become SAHP do so because:
- they want to be at home with their children (valid but only after you've fully considered the long term consequences eg. on financial independence, risk of only having one earner, how to fight any subconscious shifting in status the working partner may not even realise they are capable of feeling); or
- they can't afford to work (a feminist issue in its own right).
Your DH might be mindful that the 'cultural resistance' to trying to combine working and parenting is the one women have had no choice but to deal with for decades, if not centuries. He can suck it up, in other words.
It can be done, and it can be done in a variety of ways, including f-t WOHP and f-t SAHP, as long as there is equality, respect and trust. However, in your case it sounds like either p-t for both or him p-t and you f-t makes more sense financially.
It certainly can be done. I'm the bread winner in our family, and I know 3 other families in the same position. Housework wise, I earn enough to hire a cleaner, but what DH and I do is pretty evenly split. I cook, he gardens and looks after the family pets. We split school runs & pick ups.
We both do the bed time routine....Certainly possible.
"I realise that that's not what most SAHPs do, and I also know (well, I know it intellectually, but I'm sure it'll still come as a shock to me!) that when you're looking after small children there is no time for dusting at all!"
So why did you say it then?
It is also worth considering that equal parenting doesn't necessarily mean equal time spent with the DC.
My DH and I parent equally but their first 4 years I was a SAHM. I then worked full time for the next 4.
Our parenting style didn't change with our employment status, there is rather more to it than that.
Again, I'm sorry about the dusting comment, which has obviously upset a lot of people! I phrased it poorly; it was never supposed to be about all SAHPs, but I now realise it sounds like it was. There are women on Mumsnet who talk about how it's important they are at home to keep the house nice and I do find that depressing. I suppose I'm (irrationally - at the moment I'm as far from perfect housewife as can be!) scared that I'll start feeling like that's what I should be doing if (because it is still an if - we don't know that we're physically able to conceive at the moment) I become a parent. I was trying to explain why I had started finding those threads so upsetting, but I clearly communicated very poorly.
I think your world does shrink in the early days of becoming a parent. How long it stays like that is up to you. If your breast feeding it's hard because all the feeding is your responsibility unless you express a couple of bottles. In terms of sharing all responsibiltys it's doable but something that you need to work on.
I'm a sahm to four dc because, being totally honest we can afford it and I want to be,its my choice and I'm happy with it 90% of the time but I don't think any one is 100% happy in any role. I can assure you that dusting and getting pants whiter than white are very low on my list of priorities
As a sahm I do the do the majority of the household stuff and obviously the majority of the childcare. However dp massively respects what I do and and helps out when he's here. If he ever forgets and starts leaving stuff everywhere (he's very untidy!) I dump it, I'm happy to look after the children but I won't ever be a skivvy for him!!
I've had a good old moan about DH on here recently, but for me it really came from a place of exhaustion. If, like me, you end up with a baby who isn't a good sleeper for whatever reason, you'll find that every little thing that might be slightly annoying about your DP is magnified tenfold and I would imagine many of the complaints about husbands doing nothing on here are symptomatic of that. Mine certainly was! You're only seeing one side of the story in these posts.
I'm lucky enough to have a very involved, incredibly hardworking DH who values what I do in the home and supports me in any career decision I make too (I'm about to go back to full time work). However, he isn't perfect
unlike me and he gets right on my tits some of the time
I think maybe it is a fear of losing who I am? My work is an enormous part of who I am (I'm an academic), but also I think that, even though I would desperately love a child, 'mother' just seems like such an alien identity to me. I had a lot of the same issues around getting married (even though I had absolutely no doubts about marrying my husband): I absolutely was not the sort of little girl who dreamed of marriage and babies and I think that even though I want those things very much, I still find them hard ideas to sit alongside my ideas of 'me'. Did other people feel like this? Is this something to worry about? Sorry, this is now a slightly different one to the one I first asked!
I am grateful I brought my children up myself. I had children young so now they are about to fly the nest, it's now all me time, no mortgage either
small cheap home others would turn their nose up at
I certainly did and still do most of the time. A child is amazing and wonderful, but it's a person of its own and while you may feel your identity disappears a bit in those first few newborn months, eventually you find yourself again.
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