Is anyone else married to the Energizer Bunny? Because my husband is so chock full o’energy that it makes me want to strangle him sometimes. And if it’s natural for men to have so much energy, then why aren’t men the moms? These are questions that keep me up at night, which then causes me to become angry with my husband because I am awake, thinking about him, instead of getting the rest that I need to maintain the Defcon 5 level of my life. I do have a theory about husbands, though.
Back when I was new at this working mom thing and believed that life was fair, I often used to lie awake at night, wondering why it was that men could have it all and women couldn’t. I mean, men get to have full time jobs and play in stupid men’s softball leagues and sit around and drink beer and watch Monday night football, and yet they still also get to have kids who are so happy to see them when they walk in the door five minutes before bedtime that they actually yell “Daddy! You’re home!” and then go running into their arms. Let me just say that if I even considered getting home every night five minutes before bedtime, I would be banished from my daughter’s life forever. As it is, if I miss bedtime one night I hear about it for days afterwards. You didn’t put me to bed last night, mommy. Why did you have to go to your meeting instead of putting me to bed? I wanted you to put me to bed. Meanwhile, after working all week and seeing our children for a grand total of fifteen minutes in five days, my husband thinks nothing of spending six hours of his Saturday chasing a little white ball around a grassy area that is large enough to house the occupants of an entire third world country, and what do my children do when he gets home? They yell “Daddy! You’re home!” and go running into his arms. They do this because life is not fair. They also do this because they know that daddy’s do not experience guilt.
Which brings me back to my theory about husbands, which is that men are able to have it all because men have no idea that they actually don’t have it all and, furthermore, even if they did know, men don’t care that they don’t have it all. And so in their minds, they have it all. Think of it this way: if men were moms, what would their day be like? It would be like this: they would work all day and leave the kids with some caregiver person, and during their work day they would not once pause to worry about whether little Johnny took his nap or whether the caregiver person is being careful to make eye contact with bus drivers before pushing Johnny’s stroller out into the street, or even whether little Johnny is calling the caregiver person ‘daddy’ in their absence. They would give the caregiver person a twenty with which to order pizza or something from the drive through at McDonald’s for dinner (again, without one single fatal-car-crash-scenario playing through their minds), and they would not at all rush to get out of the office to make it home in time to give Johnny a bath. They would show up five minutes before bedtime, and they would actually take the time to pee and change out of their work clothes when they got home, despite the fact that that would mean missing the opportunity to put Johnny in his pajamas and brush his little teeth. But they would read little Johnny a story, and then feel good about having spent some quality time with him. It would not occur to them to feel bad about not having spent more quality time with him. On the weekends, they would hire a different caregiver, or they would dump Johnny off on their mothers (who would be thrilled to help) so that they could play golf, or a game of pick up basketball, or just so that they could catch up on some sleep. Once again, it would not occur to them to feel bad that they are not spending this time with Johnny. And then when someone asked them how things were going, they would say, “Things are great! I have it all.” Even though what they really would have is a job on which they are entirely focused, a full recreational schedule, and a neglected kid who they actually, delusionally, believe is perfectly happy seeing them for no more than five minutes a day.
My point is, the guilt gene just doesn’t exist in the XY chromosomal helix. And our children, who are not at all stupid, totally know this, which is why they spend all of their efforts trying to manipulate us and virtually none of their efforts trying to manipulate their fathers. It also explains why we working mothers are making ourselves insane trying to fit everything in, and why our husbands just can’t seem to understand what the hell we’re always so stressed about. But, now that I am a jaded veteran of the working mom class, it doesn’t bother me anymore. Or at least, it doesn’t keep me up at night anymore. Now, actually, I’m quite comforted by the thought. Because when I’m lying in bed at night, unable to fall asleep as I ponder all of the ways that I am screwing up my children, I know that, although I might not be so great at this mommy thing, at the very least, I’m a better mother than my husband would ever be.