How Much Should Daddy Help?

Today I want to talk about a somewhat sensitive topic. As new parents S and I are continually trying to navigate the turbulent waters of raising a child in a world with finite resources. Time, money, energy, patience all exist in limited quantities and we are faced with the daily challenge of figuring out how to divvy up what we have of each in fair and effective portions. The question I'm exploring today is "How much should daddy help?". I've phrased this question carefully, because, although I mean "How much should he help with the baby?" the reality is every feature of our lives has some impact on how we are interacting with Kasper. Work, chores, shopping, vacations, even simple, innocent luxuries like Sunday naps on the couch. The baby has changed the way we do all of it. I'll be the first person to say that I love being a mom and looking into Kasper's bright blue eyes makes my heart melt. The reality remains, our lives have changed, I love every minute of it, and we're still figuring it out.

In our situation, we have fairly clear familial roles. Even so, I sometimes find myself questioning the fairness of those roles and wondering how other people handle it. Am I being too passive? Too entitled? Is S being more or less attentive and helpful than other fathers? I would be lying if I said I haven't discussed the topic with friends that now list "mom" or "dad" in their own identities. In these discussions I'm never sure I'm getting a genuine answer or simply the answer moms and dads think they are supposed to give. So, for the sake of moms everywhere pondering these same questions, I'm going to be uncomfortable honest.

As most of you know, I work from home and that means I spend all day with my beautiful baby boy. I do all the diaper changes, I feed him, I lay down with him for naps, I write e-mails and conduct conference calls with him on my lap. For me, this makes my work day span much longer than I would like to admit. We have a rule in our house. When S comes home from work he gets about an hour to do as he pleases before I hand off the baby. I actively enforce this "rule" because I don't think it's fair to work all day then come home to have a crying baby thrust into your arms and your partner (me) run away to find some peace and quiet. So, as tempting as it is, instead of tossing the baby to S and finishing my work for the day, I continue to entertain the baby for a while longer. After the hour is up, and on the weekends, is where the questions begin. Is it fair to our family if I continue to hold the baby, change the diapers, and work in chunks of a few minuets at a time? What is it doing to S and I and to Kasper when I ask that S take the baby so I can work in the evenings? Is it eroding our time together as a family? Does it actually make a difference? How long can I expect S to entertain the baby? An hour? Two hours? A whole day?

In a way that somehow both undermines and supports the principles of feminism simultaneously I wonder if equality in parenting is even possible, let alone good for a family.

How do you handle the division of work, power, and alone time? Let's talk about the family dynamic and what you do with all of your finite resources to make it work.

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