Her Bad Mother

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

The Other Side Of Anger

Before I had children, I understood that parenthood would be challenging. I read a lot of books about it, actually, because I was a little worried. Would the first months of my child's life be like boot camp? Would I go insane from sleep deprivation? Was I going to be comfortable breastfeeding? Would I gag at all the shitty diapers? Could I do this? I was pretty confident that I could do it. I figured that I was about as well-prepared as any mother could be, and, besides, I was not in this alone. My husband would be right there with me, doing his share and gagging at runny poos. We would be doing it together, and together, we would be strong.

And then Emilia was born and it was, as expected, hard. And my husband was there, just as I had expected him to be, and he provided all the support that I could hope for. He provided all of the support that I could hope for, and more, and yet: I found myself feeling very, very angry. At the situation. At him. Mostly at him.

I was struggling with post-partum depression, which of course exacerbated things, but it was more than just a byproduct of the depression. It was a deep, almost aggressive, resentment that burbled up in my throat - burning, like an acid - and choked me, every time that he walked out the front door to go to work, or to pick up milk or cat food or whatever, his arms swinging freely, his keys dangling casually from his fingers. Maybe I'll just stop by the barber for a hair-cut, he'd say. Or, I'll swing by the grocery store on the way home from work. Or, I'm headed out to work; call me if you need anything; love you! The bastard.

He could just walk out the front door, just walk right out and head off to wherever, totally unencumbered, totally unburdened. He was free. I was not free. I could not even go to the bathroom without undergoing complicated rituals to ensure that the baby would not scream for the five minutes that I would be out of her line of sight (having failed to master this activity, I soon resorted to waiting until she had one of her two eight-minute naps of the day, or jerryrigging the baby carrier so that I could hold her and pee at the same time.) If I wanted to leave the house, even to venture the half-block to the bakery for a take-out cappuccino, I had to plot my outing like a military manoeuvre, making certain that my plans were in accordance with nap schedules and feeding times and stocks of supplies and the appropriate alignment of the stars. I was not free, and I resented my husband's freedom with a fury that sometimes made me tremble. I was angry. I was sometimes not sure whether I was angry at him, or myself, or the universe, or all three. Usually I settled for just being angry at him.

Last week, the New York Times reported a story - originally posted on Parenting.com, later covered by Jezebel - about moms of young children feeling anger toward their husbands. According to the original story, nearly half of all moms who took a survey about anger reported that they "get irate with their husbands" at least once a week. Fully half of them described their anger as "intense." Moms, the study concludes, are mad. Which, whatever. I could have told them that.

The story that I would tell about this anger, however, might be a little different than the one told in the Times. The Parenting.com story focuses on the imbalanced distribution of parental responsibility in most households, and their characterization of that imbalance rang perfectly true for me ("We carry so much of this life-altering responsibility in our heads: the doctors’ appointments, the shoe sizes, the details about the kids’ friends. Many dads wouldn’t even think to buy valentines for the class, for example, or know when it’s time to sign kids up for the pre–camp physical... We’re the walking, talking encyclopedias of family life, while dads tend to be more like brochures." Yes, I said to myself, reading this. YES.) But I'm not convinced that that imbalance necessarily leads - must lead, should lead, justifiably leads - to rage directed at one's spouse.

Is it really my husband that I'm angry at when I find myself trapped (yes, that's how it feels sometimes) alone inside the house with a squalling baby? When I'm awakened for the umpteenth time in the night by a baby who won't take a bottle? When my husband reveals that he doesn't know when Emilia should visit the dentist, or when Jasper should go in for his next well-visit? When he complains about being tired or overwhelmed while I'm scrounging in the medicine cabinet for the Ativan? Sure, I feel angry - I sometimes feel very angry - but is my anger really directed at him? And if it is directed at him - should it be?

My husband is not - I am pretty sure about this - acting maliciously when he walks out the front door to go to work. And he does not actively try to avoid retaining certain information about the household schedule or the children's appointments or how many Valentines Emilia needs to bring to school next week. Nor is he making a conscious effort to disregard how challenging things are for me when he complains about his own exhaustion. Sure, he'll never be as exhausted as I am - nobody will ever be as exhausted as I am - but that doesn't preclude him from experiencing his own sleep-deprivation-related discomforts. So why do I feel anger about these things? These things are not his fault. He's a supportive husband and father, but he's got his own challenges to deal with: his job pays the mortgage, his cooking skills keep us from living on soup and donuts, his ability to stay awake at night and get up early in the morning to wrangle baby is required to keep his sleep-deprived wife from going batshit crazy. This new household order isn't a walk in the park for him, either. So why do I - and, presumably, half of the married mothers in North America - blame him for the seeming imbalance in that order?

My point: it's not my husband's fault that I carry most of the burden of responsibility for caring for our kids. It's just the way that it is. I could blame him - and believe me, sometimes, in my darker moments, I do - but mightn't it be more reasonable to blame society's patriarchal hangover? Or even more reasonably: mightn't I blame the choices that we have made as a couple, that I have made as a woman and mother? We made choices as a couple that established a certain division of labor in our household, and we agreed upon those choices. I'm a stay-at-home/work-at-home mom. The children are in my care for a far greater share of the day than they are in his. If he didn't work, things would be different. If he lactated and could breastfeed, things would be very different. If parenting were just an easier gig, things would be different. I could justify my anger as rightfully directed at him if I felt - if I believed - that he just didn't take the care of our children as seriously as I did, or if he actively shirked parental duty and left the burden of work unfairly to me. But he doesn't, and so I can't.

And my guess is that this is very probably true for many women. Pressed with the question, do you get angry at your husband?, any one of us might say, "hell yeah, I get angry!" Do you feel that you work harder in caring for your children, that he doesn't do as much as you do, that things are easier for him? "Yes, yes and yes!" Does that make you mad? "YES!" But are we really mad at our husbands and partners, or are we mad at the circumstances of our parenting arrangements? Are we really a continent of enraged mothers, silently seething at our significant others, filled with justifiable rage at their failure to measure up to our needs and expectations? Or do we all just find parenting really, really hard sometimes - not to mention isolating - and so just fall easily into the trap of resenting our partners for not - from our blinkered perspective - having it as hard? When we talk about being angry at our spouses, aren't we really, many of us, talking about being angry about hard this motherhood business can be, and about what a drag it is that the larger share of the burden of childcare has, over the course of human history, fallen to women? You know, as the ones with the boobs? Is this really about our own husbands at all? Or this about long-standing, world-historical tensions concerning divisions between men and women generally?

None of this is to say that my husband doesn't f*ck up sometimes, nor that he is perfectly attentive to my every need as his parenting partner. Sometimes he's just an outright doofus about things. And so I feel completely justified in feeling a teeny bit - maybe a whole lot - pissy when he asks why I can't just go to sleep earlier, or maybe nap when the baby is napping, or when he doesn't put away the laundry or when he says oh, hey, would you mind terribly if I just went out for a while to do whatever and left the kids with you? But the larger issues, the challenges and obstacles and difficulties that provoke real anger and deeper frustration: these are not his fault, and my emotional struggle with these should not be his cross to bear. This should be our shared burden, one that we manage, in part, by acknowledging that we both ache from the strain and and that we both buckle, sometimes, from the weight.

And then he should mix me a drink and rub my feet. Then we'll be good.

Where are you at with this whole angry-at-mah-hubby thing? Are you one of the 50% of the population that's filled with rage? Would a foot-rub help? Is it just me, or does even talking about mother-rage feel discomfiting? Like, if I had a good feminist household I wouldn't even be talking about this crap because dude would have a prosthetic, lactating breast machine strapped to his chest and would be nursing our baby himself while I added a few more degrees to my CV and maybe found a cure for cancer? GAH. Maybe I get angry because I fetishize the inside of my own head. That shit's tiring.

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Blogger Jenny Grace said...

I'm a single mom, in charge of the full time working and the full time parenting an the full time existing for the needs of another. My anger is only directed at those who don't think my life might, in fact, be a daily challenge.

2:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Last year, on mat leave with a 2 year old and a newborn, I had RAGE. Never mind mild resentment. And to be honest, I still get pissed off at his ability to go to the toilet without scheduling it with the world. I feel like we're on a more even keel now I'm back at work, but I don't think it's ever really going to go away.
I just read 'Baby Proofing Your Marriage' - kind of a silly title but it was on the discount table at Chapters. It explained a lot of how we feel and act (damn, we are so stereotypical) although it hasn't really helped me stop feeling that way yet. Maybe I need to read it again.

2:47 PM  
Blogger petite gourmand said...

I never really thought about it this way before...
*ding* lightbulb just went on in my head.

I guess I AM angry a lot of the time- and for all the reasons you just listed.

well that and big daddy gets to go to a super cool job everyday, eat delicious catered lunches and hang with interesting and gorgeous people everyday- present company included ;.

Thank-you for writing this.
And hell yeah-a foot massage might help a wee bit.

2:53 PM  
Blogger Ashley said...

I'm angry...but not as angry as I used to be. 3 kids later my anger has dulled and I realize that this is just the way it is. I stay home, I do more. He is a good father and a good husband. My previous rage was unjustified, brought on by the sheer shock of how much work it takes to keep another human alive. And a tiny bit of PPD.

But I'm fine now...really.

2:55 PM  
Blogger Someone Being Me said...

I'll admit it, more often than not I am one of those angry 50%. It started when Bear was an infant who ate every 3 hours. I wasn't breastfeeding so my husband could easily have taken a 6 am feeding before work or a midnight feeding before going to bed allowing me a 6 hour stretch to sleep. There are many nights he doesn't go to bed until midnight or later and most mornings he leaves around 6:30. But every time I asked he would tell me that he needed to get to work or he couldn't stay up because what if he fell asleep on the road and got in a crash? Ugh. It has continued all the way up until as recently as this past Sunday when he refused to get off the couch and do anything to prepare for the Superbowl/birthday party for our son with the exception of poking at the brisket every hour or so. I am 6 1/2 months pregnant and chasing a 2 year old yet I got to run to the grocery store 3 times for supplies, clean the house, cook all the side dishes and appetizers, make the goody bags, and clean up everything after everyone left. Then we got in a fight because he was mad that I didn't have a good time and didn't want to have any more parties for awhile. It is frustrating. I agree with the lady who said it was like being pecked to death by a chicken. Its not the big things. Its the million little things like the clothes on the floor, the dishes in the sink, the big purchases of things he wants while telling me we need to cut back on spending. He is a good father and a good husband but it does drive me crazy sometimes.

2:55 PM  
Blogger heels said...

Yes, I'm angry at my husband. When I feel like I must beg for my one-hour/week dance class, when he makes me feel evil for coming home from said class a minute later than I said I would, when he gets to use "but I'm staying at home to clean the house" to get out of caring for our son for an hour for me to run errands (even though I can clean the house perfectly fine with our son there- he's THREE, goddamit!), when I have no sick or vacation time left because I've used it all for our son's illnesses and doctor's appointments yet he has over 98 hours of vacation and 40 hours of sick left- yes, I'm angry at my husband. I love him, he's a good dad, but I'm angry.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Maria Melee said...

When it comes to my kid-related responsibilities, I feel pretty badass. Kind of supermom-ish sometimes. (When I'm not yelling at the big one or letting the little one cry too long and then guilting myself about it for two hours.)

But I feel unappreciated and thusly angry. The kids aren't going to thank me. It's not their jobs. So it'd be cool if my husband thanked me. We both work, but I keep the house in order, pay our bills, take care of school, schedules, doctors appointments, blah blah. (JUST WRITING THIS MAKES ME ANGRY, CRAP.)

So yeah. I dunno. I wish he'd just hug me sometimes and say "damn lady, you're a good mom. Thank you."

That would genuinely, 100% make it all better.

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree, although my resentment doesn't always stop at my husband - sometimes it moves on to non-mother friends who complain to me how tired and exhausted they are. Maybe I just need a nap.

2:57 PM  
Blogger Issa said...

With us it's different. With the girls, my husband was that parent, the parent who knew it all. I was the one working, making the money and coming home at night complaining about how tired I was. Now it's him and I'm the one in charge of remembering it all. So I see it from both sides. When I worked all the time, I thought about my kids and my husband constantly. I wondered what I had missed today and what I'd come home to in the evening. I didn't always remember who had snack day at preschool or who needed to go to the dentist. He took care of it all. At the same time, it is hard to work all day and know that you are responsible for all the financial burden.

Now the roles have switched for us. I'm not sure which is easier or if it even matters. I try not to yell at him about stupid comments and he tries not to leave me a list of things he needs all the time. It doesn't always work out. Some days, we both still get angry. But we do try and remember what the other side is like.

3:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do get really angry with my husband and mainly it's because he takes his freedom for granted. He just ASSUMES that he can run and do something after work before coming home or that he can just run out and get something done. I have to ASK PERMISSION to go out so I can go to the gym. Or the grocery store. And that makes me really annoyed. I can't just pick up and walk out the door like he can.

3:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I could have totally written this post, if it wasn't 100% certain to set Hubs off about how he "does a lot more than most husbands." Seriously, I am going to jab him in the eye in his sleep if he says that one more time.

For me, it's NOT that he doesn't carry 50%. It's that he is under the DELUSION that he does. I don't need him to do half, in fact that is not practical, but would it kill him to acknowledge this as fact and, say, try to do things to help me out when he can? It's not that he doesn't do a lot-- he does-- but I shouldn't have to TELL him that a child needs a bath. He should smell the funky child, and take said child to the bath, without having to be asked.

When I have to ask, he's already screwed before he begins. I want doing the things he CAN do to be his idea, not my request.

So, yes, I struggle under the weight of it all. But I think that's no excuse for these men not to use their brains and actually take the initiative. Carry a damn card in your wallet that tells you their shoe size, for the love of pete!

3:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Are you living in my head? If you take out the post-partum depression and give yourself a briefcase, you've got my deal down to a T.

Unfortunately our situation is a bit more complicated. There's more to it than the anger at the intrinsic unfairness of the roles we, at one point, accepted so willingly.

I don't think my scenario will end well, but I hope, for your sake, that yours will.

3:11 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

*Raise Hand!* I get the anger, and my baby is 7. And it is not all the time, it is when things pile up, I'm not feeling well, the kids are particularly bad, etc. And if he just offers to help or even acknowledges that it is just too much, that means so much.

3:13 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for posting this. I was never able to talk about this on my blog since my husband is an avid reader. I was one of those enraged mothers for the first couple of years. As soon as my son started sleeping through the night my rage lessened. I don't know if I had post-partum depression, but I suspect I did. I wasn't sad--just enraged. I think sleep deprivation was a big part of it for me. Now I have a sleeping three year old and life is sooooooooo much better. My husband and I are back to our normal happy selves and I'm so glad. I kept thinking I wanted to run away, but I couldn't see how having a baby without my husband's support would be better.

We're trying for #2 and I think I'm dreading a postive test. I don't want to live through so much anger again.

3:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

WOW! You pulled at all of my thoughts and frustration that I feel about being a mother to a baby that requires all parts of me all the time. I often feel deep anger towards my husband many times through the week. When he can just go out and about vs. me having to plan an hour out to...do errands. I loved how you wrote about having to balance everything just to go down the block to get a coffee. That is me exactly. Every day. Motherhood is much harder than I thought it would be.

3:29 PM  
Blogger samantha marie said...


My first child I had as a single mom, and I don't remember being angry at all. I just . . . was. I guess that's because I sort of chose to do it on my own, and there was no one to get angry at but me.
With my second, I've been ANGRY. Like, filled with just RAGE. If I could literally bite someone's head off and spit it out, I think I would. I don't feel like my husband does a lot (or he knows that he can do just enough to keep me from totally freaking out, and how long between those moments he can go) to help me out. He also works nights (working from 8pm until 8am), and he knows I'll feel guilty about bugging him to do stuff when he does work all night. Even so, that also creates resentment. I mean, do I honestly have to ask you to dishes when I made dinner (because you said that you'd do them when you came home for lunch and instead decided to mess around on the computer, so they were waiting for me when I got up this morning)? Really? I have to ask you to help fold laundry because I'm the one that sorted, washed, and dried all of it? If I have to ask you, then you're already screwed, because I'm about to be pissed off that I had to ask.
I'm luckier than most because my 3 month old sleeps through the night, so I do get a little bit more sleep than most, but it still seems like I'm the one doing EVERYTHING even on the mister's days off, or after he wakes up. God forbid you let me out of the house without suggesting I take a child (I understand that it's important that the oldest not feel like she's been forgotten - but what about my SANITY?!), or that YOU make ME dinner.

3:32 PM  
Blogger Amo said...

I never really went through the anger as much as jealousy. In my warped/sleep-deprived mind, I was sure he was having fun at work and had no clue about the trials and tribulations in my life.

Now, however, after having been through this twice, I am now thankful. I am thankful that he is the one working. I tried it once; worked full-time for about 8 months. I honestly hated it. I have now retired (according to me) and never plan to return to that lifestyle again. I still don't think he has any idea what I go through. But when I return from an afternoon away and the kids are happy but the house is trashed, I just smile and know that he wouldn't want my duties any more than I want his.

Not that the house ISN'T trashed now...heh.

3:46 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Honestly? No. I mean, once in a blue moon we each get pissy, but no is the real and true answer.

I think it helps that he's the one "trapped" - I'm a WOHM and he's a SAHD, a grad student trying to write a doctoral dissertation and care for a 9 month old (he goes to daycare 3 days a week, so dad gets a break, too.) It also helps that we both desperately want to switch roles and can't wait til we can, and it helps that when we do switch we'll have a deeper understanding of what the other goes through. And finally, I am positive that the fact that both of us get our baby-free days and our baby-full days helps. I can't wait to spend more time with my son (1 hour a day DOES NOT CUT IT,) but I hope that I can always have at least a couple of half days a week away, even if they are working a part time job. It will be worth the time away, to me.

I do, however, sometimes get irrationally mad at my childless friends who complain about being tired and having a long day and being poor. I have to consciously tell myself to not be such a bitch, because I chose this and they chose NOT this, and back before I had the baby I felt exhausted a lot, too.

3:50 PM  
Blogger CJ said...

Wow, amazing post. I am all kinds of impressed!

3:53 PM  
Blogger Amy said...

My husband does a lot. So much that I hate to complain. Much.

I get angry mainly about the walk out the door thing. He'll just go to the gym in the evening. Or plan a bike ride with his buddy Saturday morning. Or whatever. He doesn't ask me, he just goes.

I have to ask to go anywhere unless I'm taking the boys with me. And then he has "attitude" - how long will you be? can you be home by 2 so I can blah blah.

That's what makes me furious. That he can still just go with the assumption that I'll be there with the kids but I have to ask to leave the house alone.
(We both wirk full-time outside the home.)

I need a drink now.

4:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I loved the first half of your post and was going to send it to my husband until you got wishy washy at the end.

Hell yes I'm angry at my husband for the inequality. Who else would I be angry with? The situation is what it is because of him.

4:28 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

The thing is, it's not only about the boobs. I'm like you in the sense that part of the reason I carry more than my share of the burden is a result of my own choices. And I agree it can help (or at least give both of us a little breathing room) to acknowledge that some of the anger is misplaced if fired away at my very involved and supportive partner. But while it is true that it is not my husband's fault that we live in a society where I am socialized to be the encyclopedia and he is socialized to be the brochure, he does benefit from this arrangement. I think this helps explain why the anger can seem so disproportionate when he heads out the door. Its not only about the boobs, and its not only about individual choices - its also about culture and there are lots of cultural options out there involving more or less egalitarian sharing of caregiving work. Easier said than done of course, but in an ideal world we could all be directing our anger towards these political choices and attempts to create new options for ourselves. In my opinion, there would be fewer angry moms in a world with affordable quality public childcare. Thanks for the great post.

4:29 PM  
Blogger sheSaidC2 said...


My husband said to me a while ago, you seem angry at me for going to work. I was like I am. I am so pissed. We 'agreed' to this, sorta. I allowed it to happen. But staying home is not what I would have really chosen. I am so pissed at his freedom, or my perception of it.

Things have been better lately. More sleep? More balance? I am not sure. But next time? I am not doing it this way next time, no way.

It is so easy to be a 'good dad', do something and you are great. We both wanted to have children, we should both be parents. My day job is my work + the baby, his is in the office. But we share equally in everything in the evenings and weekends, and with dr. app. and researching things. I felt so CRUSHED by the weight of those things... though I do have to remind him sometimes.... :(

I love him, I don't want to be mad at him. I think it's a F*ed up system we have.

4:34 PM  
Blogger Karen MEG said...

Yes, I used to be filled with rage a lot more when the kids were younger. Now that they're in school, and I get a little bit more of a break (when I'm not working intensely on a project), it is a little better. Not so much better though, when he's jetsetting off for work purposes to places that I would love to go to (figures, he got these gigs AFTER I got pregnant with #2 and decided to stay home for a while.)
He is an amazing father and husband, very hands on, but to be honest, there is a lot of stuff that I do that is totally taken for granted. He does try to acknowledge it, but when he responds with "if you ever want to consider switching places with me, just let me know"... I don't think he realizes the half of it.

The past little while, when he's had to deal with the kids on his own while I was out dealing with stuff for my sick father and helping Mom out, it was very intense for him and I almost felt apologetic that I was leaving him with them so much... but why should I, he's their father!!! He would call and ask when I'd be home (they really put him through the wringer); I'd have to write out instructions, reminders etc. I don't know if this gave him an appreciation of what I do or not. I'd like to hope so, but maybe it's just a Venus/Mars thing.

Great post, if my novel is any indication...

4:35 PM  
Blogger Mandy said...

I've definitely struggled with anger (I hesitate to say rage) towards my husband since we've had our kids.

What you haven't addressed, which I think speaks to my situation, is when both parents work outside the home (our kids are 16 months and 4 years), and yet the far greater half of parenting and household chores fall on my side. And don't get me wrong, my husband does a lot to help. But not 50%. Of course, his job demands more of his time, but that doesn't stop me from wanting to slam dishes around when I come home to find that yes, the kids are fed and happy, but the house is a complete shambles.

4:47 PM  
Blogger Tiffi33 said...

hm, not so much anger, or rage as much as jealousy..and maybe a tad of resentment..
my kids are older now (12 and 9 YEAH! FREEDOM!!)
so it isn't so bad, but it is *me* who knows the teachers, friends and issues..homework and library days..he works on the road, so he cant be there for many events..
I did put my foot down on the sports tho..he has GOT to be able to haul them where they need to go as much as I do..and he does..

I guess I always looked at what I knew and he didn't know as my superiority as a mom..lol..sounds simplistic, but I don't know that he could remember everything I do..
..and besides, if he cooked, we would all die of malnutrition in pretty short order..

4:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A foot massage would help. Or maybe some help preparing dinner, instead of me dealing with 2 crying children and things in the oven.

So I guess I'm a little resentful. How come I'm the only one who can pick up a fussy newborn? Or feed the toddler? Or change pooey nappies?

5:10 PM  
Blogger for a different kind of girl said...

I suppose I never wanted to call it anger, but what I've felt and perhaps labeled as jealousy or envy was (is)(sometimes) anger. OK, it was with anger when, a couple weeks ago, I got home to find my husband rushing out the door to tell me he was en route to getting his hair cut. "Did you make happen to make appointments for the boys, too? They need haircuts also, and you all go to the same place." His response? "No. I didn't think to do that."

Gah! I sort of lost it, and railed a bit on how he has to think, that when I make appointments for the boys, I also make one for him, because it's just one of those tasks that goes hand in hand. I'm not really conveying how upset I was, but I felt like I had to make him understand that sometimes I feel like I'm taking care of him as well as our children because that's all I do, you know? And that if I am capable of thinking of others, shouldn't he be, too? Of course, I felt bad when all was said and done, and admitted as much to him.

But still. The 'but still' part is what lingers in my mind.

I know he is the primary income contributor to our home. I know that when I begged to stay home (now with a part time job) that I would be the one taking the bulk of this role. And he does help. He does. It's just sometimes it comes with prodding. The prodding wears me out.

So yeah. I guess there's some anger there.

5:12 PM  
Blogger Avonlea said...

I definitely had some anger for awhile there when he would just disappear back to his office after we both got home from work. He just assumed that I would be the one watching the little guy. We had lots of talks about that. Things have changed up now that I'm still working full-time, but he is working contract work/part time and doing a lot of the household stuff. He does most of the grocery shopping. He pays the bills. He is learning to cook more. However, I still want to know why the only way our little guy gets his teeth brushed, hair combed, or a bath is if I either do it or specifically ask my husband to do it.

(As an aside, I really dislike it when women say their husband "helps out" a lot. Because that still gives the assumption that the household duties and parenting duties are still the woman's responsibility.)

5:23 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

It's been years, and it's all history, but yes, I remember the anger toward an unfeeling husband. With my first baby I was bored out of my head and we had NO money, I cooked on a two burner hotplate (and even made from-scratch German chocolate cakes on it, by god) and every night I washed my one maternity outfit by hand and ironed it the rest of the way dry the next day. I developed toxemia and my feet swelled to the point that I could not put on rubber flip-flops. And yet he would ask me to do this and that - and after the delivery he said that he did that on purpose so I wouldn't get out of shape. I cannot describe the anger.

He did much the same thing after the third - I had a horrid delivery, nearly died, and the doctor thought I should stay in the hospital the full five days (see how long ago this was?) to get some rest - and on the third night I called home to talk to my two daughters, and the 8 year old was trying to make grilled cheese sandwiches on a gas range.

Yes, anger.

Yes, divorce.

I'm much happier.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh man! My son is six weeks old, and I'm angry. I'm not even sure what I'm angry about half the time. He would cry and I couldn't go get him immediately the first few days because it made my heart hurt to listen to him. I would sit there and weep for a few minutes before getting him. My husband would wake up and fuss at me for letting James cry long enough to wake him up! Then, when he went back to work, he would 'generously' offer to take baby duty until midnight. Of course, James is a champion sleeper. He goes down around nine or ten, then sleeps through the night except for one feeding around two or three. That means my husband's baby duty time just makes him feel like he helps.

When he comes home, if I ask him to feed the baby while I go get dinner ready or shower or something, he invariably props a bottle in his mouth. Drives me insane! Why is it so much to ask him to hold his son? He tells me that he's tired, and he'll play with him when he's older. What sort of crap is that? Oh, the anger!

5:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think about this alot. I have had plenty of anger at my supportive husband since my first child was born and have pretty much chalked it up to a personality defect of my own, as in, how could I be so angry with him when he is such a good dad and so many women have it so much worse? I have to admit that I am relieved to read this entry and the responses. I'm not alone in this.

My husband just lost his job and we are about to trade roles. I am going to teach again, b/c I can get a job easily while he, in business, cannot. So I will be working all day and then working on my business at night. While my husband is a really good dad, he cannot multi-task. He will take good care of the kids, but that's all. I will still be in charge of the pre-school immunizations and registration forms/deadlines, medicine dosages, remembering when Stride Rite has the "Buy one, get one 1/2 off" sale and getting the shoes, toilet cleaning, and the million and one other things that we all do as mothers. Just as my kids have gotten a little older and my anger has started to dissipate (a little), I am worried that I am about to go in deeper than ever.

5:29 PM  
Blogger Mommy Mo said...

Did you step inside my head? because, you and me girlfriend, have had the SAME thoughts regarding this. I love my kids, I do, and I wouldn't trade being home with them, BUT I feel trapped and isolated at times. TRAPPED. You hit it spot on about the whole freedom thing with the husbands. And you were right on AGAIN when you spoke of not really being mad at our husbands but more about the situation.

Now what?

5:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am actually not generally angry at my husband. But I am terribly unsympathetic towards him. God forbid he complains about lack of sleep, or being sick, or anything. I get sick and I still have 2 little kids to take care of. I still get up at night and buy the groceries and all that jazz. There's no one to pick up my slack. So yes, there have been a few occasions where I've ripped him a new one.

But for the most part, he really pitches in and helps out, and he's the only one keeping me sane. In many ways I'm much more appreciative of him while I'm in the new baby stage, because I need him so badly.

5:48 PM  
Blogger TeeTee said...

This was a very interesting and thought-provoking posting. I'm pissed at my husband, but right now it's because he knocked me up. I know logically that I was equally responsible for getting pregnant again, but he really wanted another child more than I did. I've gone thru 6 miscarriages and I'm happy with the one kid I got out of it, even tho I do feel like the majority of the parenting drudgery falls on me. But he kept insisting he wanted another, so I half-heartedly agreed.

Now I'm pregnant - 8 weeks - and sick as a dog, giving myself injections once a day, hormonal beyond belief, and pissed at him for not being able to have his own damn baby. I told him no matter what the outcome of this pregnancy is, there's no way I'm doing this again.

So I guess I'm more pissed at the mechanics of it all. Have your own damn kids and leave us out of it!

5:48 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I get angry when my husband wants to sleep in, even though we both went to bed at the same time. I wait up for him at night and then we chat and fall asleep together and then 6 hours later I have to get up and he doesn't. Then I remember that he has to go to work and make sure that the prisoners don't escape their cells and I get to make crafts with the child.

5:48 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

So. Very. True. I feel the same things ALOT. I was actually warned that this would happen by our childbirth class instructor. I feel resentful, as you said, but at the same time when my husband tries to share the responsibility I won't let him do it. Because the baby is MY job? Because he's not doing it the way I would? Because I feel like I am less of a mother if I'm if not doing the work? You described it perfectly.

5:49 PM  
Blogger Heather @CritterChronicles said...

I feel a sense of this (displaced) anger toward my husband every time he walks out the door without a child's hand in his own. I resent the fact that he can take a shower without having little people peeking in (or trying to climb in with him); the fact that he can get a haircut every week if he wants; his "alone time" in the car on his way to and from work. He doesn't see any of that as freedom, but he's also never lived with the second-to-second responsibility of Being In Charge the way I have.

I have this argument with him every weekend: Saturday morning comes, and he sleeps in (because I can't sleep in. I'm not physically programmed to do so.). He putzes around the house, doing this and that, and finally at noon he says, "So what are we doing this weekend?" And I get angry - really angry - because 1. Why am I in charge of our family's leisure schedule in addition to our weekday schedule? And 2. Why is he waiting until it's our 18-month-old's naptime to ask for us to leave the house for an extended period of time?

I keep threatening to leave him for two weeks; to go on vacation by myself and leave him with our children, alone. He's never been alone with both of them for longer than three hours, and he's in desperate need of a metaphorical bucket of ice water in the face: "Hey you, see what I do all day long? Let's see YOU do this!"

5:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Heck Yeah I'm mad.

We're both working. We have different days off. On his days off, he "just needs to chill," "maybe kill some stuff." His days are when the kid is still is school and he has the luxury of picking him up when school gets out or letting the kid stay in the after school program. Because he chooses to get the kid, he thinks he's doing so much. It makes the kid happy but it doesn't get my dishes done.

Naturally, my days off are when the kid's days are off and I get to spend tons of time with a kid who acts like he hates me, mostly because he's 7. I also clean the house, make the meals for the week, get the laundry done, and occasionally sit down and read a book.

My husband looks at me after I cleaned the living room and says "Why are the cats so happy?" Well, Dude, every living thing in this house is happier when it's neat and tidy. We just are. Clutter and the whatnot are stressful. I still don't think he gets it.

6:01 PM  
Blogger Backpacking Dad said...

Husband hit-and-run: "Your anger is not my fault. But apparently it's my problem." :}

I appreciate that you genuinely wonder if your husband deserves the anger you feel; many people don't wonder this at all. They just assume he deserves it because they feel it in the first place.

But this isn't a parent thing. I don't ever recall feeling trapped in a situation and resenting my wife for not being in the situation, or for not acknowledging my stress about that situation. But she sure as hell has resented me for getting to stay home while she had to work. Maybe "resent" is too strong: at the very least I was inspired not to describe too enthusiastically what a great time I was having being a SAHD while she was working. I don't know that it's right that I should have walked on eggshells a bit, and I didn't do it because I felt it was the moral thing to do. I just knew it made her feel badly so I didn't rub her face in it. A further demand from her to acknowledge her hard work and stress levels with some sort of foot rub would have been a gross injustice, however :}

6:13 PM  
Blogger Momily said...

Thank-you for this post, for so eloquently expressing all that rage, anger, marriage stuff! And the comments - thank-you! I have felt very alone and overwhelemed and freaking angry lately and i feel not so alone now. My kids have been sick with some awful flu(s) thing FOR TWO WEEKS and being home day-in, day-out with sick kids, cleaning vomit and diarrhea over and over again, well it's hard not to rage a bit. I am very tired. i am isolated. i have sick kids. normally i can look at things a bit clearly, but yesterday in the midst of all this, I kind of lost it when i realized my husband went out for lunch and went cd shopping just for fun and I'm on my hands and knees scrubbing puke out of the carpet.

6:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow, this post is awesome! I didn't know that when I was saying "since I won't work outide the home and you will, I won't expect you to get up with the baby. it's my job." that when that time came I was gonna want to smother him with that nice fluffy pillow he was enjoying. but on the occasion that he does get up with a kid at night, I don't sleep anyway because I'm feeling guilty and worrying that he's doing something wrong. yeah, I'd say parenting has kicked my ass every single day since my first child was born.

6:57 PM  
Blogger Janet said...

Each baby we had was very hard on our marriage. I was very angry because, damnit, it just wasn't FAIR. And before the babies, it really was pretty fair. We both had careers, I made as much money as he, we took turns making dinner, yada yada yada. Plus, when I had a paying job, people would say, "Great job! You are an asset to the team! Here, have some stock options!" Babies are sometimes not very good at giving positive feedback; husbands can be even worse.

As the kids grew older, the anger dissipated. I got more sleep, felt more balanced. I was just at Beck's reading her post and she said the past ten years at home was like a gift she unknowingly gave herself. That's exactly how it feels to me now.

7:00 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Anonymous - wishy-washy?I don't think so. I'm just trying to be reflective about the things that anger me. Sure, some of it warrants me being angry at HIM, but much of it doesn't. Much just has to do with the situation. There's no such thing as the perfect husband, perfect father, perfect spouse. If my own lags behind perfection during this most difficult time, I don't know that my anger is warranted, or useful.

Which is not to say that there aren't 'bad' husbands/fathers out there, and that they deserve anger. I just don't think that my own husband - or indeed many husbands - really fall into that category.

Doesn't change the fact that I get angry sometimes - hoo, boy, do I get angry. But I'm trying to not get carried away by it.

7:01 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've described how I feel to a tee. Unfortunately I have let the anger show a little too often resulting in a lot of fights between the 2 of us. So much so that the damage has been done and I can't fix it anymore nor at times do I want to.

Life is funny, all the things I wished for so dearly; marriage and children, are the things that have "screwed" me over. Maybe that's a strong word; screwed, to use, especially against having children. Having our child has brought me so much joy while at the same time caused me such pain and anguish at seeing my marriage fail.

I'll stop now.

8:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm going to go WAY out on a limb and sound like the most horrible mother EVER, but I just think this idea needs to be put out there.

I've been following your blog for awhile. I understand your passion for breastfeeding, your devotion to your children, your serious struggle to get the sleep you so desperately lack. I admire these things about you, so, please understand that I'm writing this with a huge amount of love and sympathy for what you've been going through.

You absolutely MUST get some time for yourself OUT of the house. Sans children. If you need to schedule it with your husband ahead of time, so be it. Walk out with your arms swinging, keys dangling, just as you described your husband doing. Be gone for an hour and a half.

I know you said that Jasper won't take anything but the breast. That might make the 1.5 hour rough for daddy and baby. But here's the truth: they will find a way to DEAL with it. Dad will be okay and baby WON'T starve to death. Nobody will be traumatized, they'll just be a little sad for a little while. And you know what? That is OKAY. Because you, my dear, are at a point where it is piling up all on you. Them being a little sad for a short time is a fair trade off for you to get some much needed balance and relaxation for yourself. And I don't meant to sound "old school" like I know better, and I certainly don't know your child so this might be "ass"vice, but I'm just wondering if Jasper gets hungry ENOUGH and is offered a bottle OFTEN enough that it's not a completely foreign concept, especially if that bottle is consistently coming from Daddy, he might learn to accept it. He might learn that you are not coming to his rescue right away, and that this bottle is his only option... I don't know. But in my opinion, listening to you, as someone who cares, I think it's worth a try.

Talk with your husband about it. Explain to him that you simply need the time alone, even if it's a miserable short time for him, it will do you a world of good. He will probably see that what you're saying is true. It just sounds like right now you need to train your kids to learn to BE without you. And that is okay, eventually that's what we all want anyway.

Okay, hope these suggestions come across in the spirit in which they are intended. I just see you struggling so much... when really, this is a good time (though it seems like the worst time) to assert your need for time to yourself. You should not have to be on the brink of exhaustion in order to earn it. You deserve it.


8:38 PM  
Blogger Tara said...

If giving me a 2 minute foot rub didn't "cause" HIM fall into a deep sleep, yeah it might make things a little better.

8:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yeah, I'm right there with you, only I also feel terribly guilty for being so angry and then the guilt makes me angry at myself and the whole cycle continues. And the nicer my husband is to me, the worse it seems to be. But, for the record, I'm coming off of horrible PPD and things are finally, finally getting better, so I'd be interested to see what kind of correlation there is in your responses between the two.

8:50 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

My kids are older (8 & 17) but I still get angry at their father, he can go and/or do what he wants and I still can't. He can sit around on Sat & Sunday while I clean house, fix dinner, do laundry and the kids like him better because daddy doesn't yell/scream/ground whatever. Yes I am angry and have been for a long time.

9:11 PM  
Blogger Della said...

I'm so right there with you, I was considering making a post about it today. Of course, because I ended up taking two naps (don't kill me, I know I'm lucky the little monkey sleeps a lot) to make up for the major disruption from the couple nights previous, I didn't exactly get around to that whole blogging thing.

I started writing my response here in this comment box but about halfway through it, decided it was so long I needed to just post the darn thing. So, go to daily-della.blogspot.com I guess. I had a lot to say.

9:23 PM  
Blogger Motherhood Uncensored said...

I think it's fair to be pissed, jealous, and resentful, especially when we're asked, no, required to give up so much for the sake of our kids when many of our husbands still enjoy a private pee.

I wouldn't be so annoyed if there was some sort of recognition. Some thanks, some acknowledgement, some "yeah, you do a lot and I don't know how you do it." But I got the whole "you're such a grouchy bitch - I'm working and it's more important - it's how life is."

It's gotten a lot better - mostly due to his work schedule, but also because it finally got through to him that this is hard. And it's not just something we women suck up and carry.

But women put up with way too much crap. There are too many husbands that take the weekend to play golf alone after a long work week. There are too many women who bitch under their breath while they wash their dishes as their husbands sit on their ass with the remote control.

But whose fault is it? When we don't expect more. When we don't raise our sons with empathy and respect for women.

It's a tough question, but I think the anger has been building. Our mothers and their mothers. We're the first generation to say FUCK THIS SHIT.

9:55 PM  
Blogger justme said...

i use to be so mad at hubby. it was teh ppd and not his fault at all, but when they don't tune in and choose to tune out it makes it worse. i feel less anger now, but the kid are 4 and 2, not 2 and a newborn. easier, but i still get upset every once in a while but not necessarly mad at him. more mad about the problem.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Loralee Choate said...

I do have anger. It's not horrible, but I would have an easier time coping with having the brunt of the child care if I felt emotionally supported by my husband. In truth? I don't, so it's harder.

9:57 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

MU - "But whose fault is it? When we don't expect more. When we don't raise our sons with empathy and respect for women."

YES. EXACTLY. It's bigger than any one husband. And we're complicit, unless we stand up and say NO.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Della said...

Heh, I finally finished typing my post so if you went to that link and saw nothin, well, sorry! was blabbing! done now! you may now behold the blab that is my frustration!

10:01 PM  
Blogger josetteplank.com said...

Yes...who said that it's not the reality I'm angry about but the lack of acknowledgment.

The lack of acknowledgment that keeping track of all the mundane minutiae is important. The lack of acknowledgment that yes, even if it's a business trip, it's a night away with a full night's sleep with both ears closed and that's a pretty good perk even with all the stress that being the breadwinner brings.

I don't get a weekly paycheck aka pat on the head for a job well done. I just want some acknowledgment more often than some Sunday in May that knowing whose underwear is whose and which kid is allergic to amoxicillin isn't something hardwired into my genetic makeup or comes naturally.

But I'm not angry anymore. I'm resolute.

10:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think productive anger is a good thing. I definitely pick my battles and know what things I'm not going to let him slide on.

What I hate is sitting in the waiting room and hearing a woman throw her husband under the bus for dressing her toddler in mismatched clothes.

I get angry when he implies that he's "letting me" do anything, yk like 'letting me' work on the weekend while he minds the kids. I'm no more "letting him" go to work M-F. Perhaps that's the more academic debate best left in my head or in the blogosphere. He truly doesn't 'get' that part of the argument, so I've learned to stop arguing it.

But the passive-aggressive BS? Not so much.

10:08 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...


This was my whole freaking point when I wrote that post about the inimitable, irreplaceable mother.

We do stuff that they'd never think to do, we remember stuff that they think is forgettable, and we take care of so very much behind the scenes that they never even realize.

It's not a matter of being angry at them for not doing enough or wishing they'd do more or even feeling unappreciated.

It's that we feel trapped by our biological role. Even if we had lactating husbands who remembered every last detail - and scrubbed the toilets daily, for good measure - we'd still hold ourselves accountable, and we'd still lash out at those closest to us.

The best I can hope for is a partner who acknowledges everything that I do, whether he thinks it's anywhere near as important as I do. But I still reserve the right to get irrationally pissed off at him now and then.

10:34 PM  
Blogger D said...

This perspective is very enlightening and probably so true. But for some reason my pissed-off-ness is still lingering?

10:52 PM  
Blogger Her Bad Mother said...

Ms Priss - my pissed-off-ness is still lingering, too. As MGM said - I reserve the right.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Fairly Odd Mother said...

I used to always wonder why I could be so awful to my family (my parents, my sister), and I think it's because I knew I *could* be so mean to them & they would always be there. I wonder if that is part of the reason I can vent such anger toward my husband---he's my family now.

When the kids were younger and I was getting less sleep, I felt a lot more blind rage. Now, I just get pissy every now and then, especially when I've been "on duty" for more days/hours than I can count.

10:55 PM  
Blogger Michelle said...

Sigh. So timely in that my baby is four months old and I frequently want to scream, kick, and yell in frustration. My husband and I have never really fought, he is mild mannered and agreeable, and very very calm, I am the loon, but we work well together. We used to manage our little world totally in sync, and suddenly, it's like he's from another f*!@ing planet.

I am just mad, angry, pissed. Almost all the time. At him. For no good reason. He works hard, comes home and takes the baby, is happy to take her on weekends so I can escape, and tells me what a great job I am doing every day, and appreciates everything I do. But. I.... am..... still...... just mad.

I used to have a business, and I ran around all day and interacted with other grown ups, and you know, WAS somebody. Now, I am a walking feeding station. And I love my little girl, adore her on every level, but I am tired. Exhausted down to my bones. I didn't know it would be this hard. And somehow that turns into anger at him. Poor guy.

11:06 PM  
Blogger Lindsey said...

I totally read that article. I marked the page and told my husband to read it. Part of me was all like 'HELLLO OF COURSE MY HUSBANDS A BASTARD SOLIDARITY SISTER!" and then the other part of me was "wow these guys are total asses for not treating their wife better."

I have a 9 month old and the first three months after I gave birth were probably the worst 3 months of my life. I had a beautiful daughter she was well maintained and a really fabulous baby. I wasn't depressed I was handling everything well. Except my husband who just 'ignored' mothers day a week after our first and only child was born...lied and left for 15 hours one day a week after her birth....lets just say he wasn't handling being a father well. I was beyond devastated. I was hurt and angry and stuck at home while he did have all these freedoms.

Flash forward now...we have an almost seamless marriage/child raising combo team going on currently. A few months ago he really stepped up to the plate and became the father and husband he should have been from day 1. I am still hurt by those first few months but as time passes so does my frustration. What matters is how he is now. and when I read that article last week all I could think of was wow my husband does laundry all the time? He cooks and cleans regularly. He jumps at the chance to give our daughter a bath and encourages me to get out and do new things without being a mommy.

I do agree it is fully totally completely a problem so I'll end with "i love my husband' SOLIDARITY SISTER!

11:06 PM  
Blogger The Any Key said...

Wow. I am so glad you wrote this.

This is exactly the kind of thing I will need to keep in mind to keep me from going 'crazy batshit', my new favorite term.

I am 7.5 months pregnant with my first baby, a boy, and while my husband has been wonderfully supportive during the pregnancy, and I know he will be an amazing father, I know I will have the same issues if I am feeling 'trapped' at home.

I do think it is unfair that some of us women have to ask husbands to watch the kids to go to the store along, get a haircut, etc. I realize husbands are working to pay bills, keep food on tables, etc, BUT that doesn't mean that AFTER they are done work, they shouldn't ask to go out alone, either. If for no other reason than respect.

I think after hubby's work hours are over (within reason - my hubby's occupation might have him gone for up to 18 hours of straight work) they should be equally responsible and if EITHER parent wants to leave to go shopping, golf, get a massage, have a break, it should be discussed, not assumed.

This is what I have in *hopes* for the future with my husband as our family life develops.

11:08 PM  
Blogger excavator said...

My kids are older now; it makes a difference that they're no longer physically dependent on me. I so remember those days, though.

I think what may have made the difference in the intensity of my anger would have been empathy. He didn't have to have a lactacting prosthesis but true, heartfelt empathy was what would have assuaged the rage.

I've spent years trying to find words to describe the experience of mothering young children. So far the closest I've come to the understanding I've craved is what I've received from other mothers.

When my husband would come home and want to know why I felt so exhausted, so overwhelmed I would feel deep despair. He was asking me to call out each molecule of water in the flood that was drowning me. Any individual detail sounded so trivial. Why couldn't he see that I was drowning?

Other mothers knew. Thank God for other mothers. Whining has saved my sanity.

11:10 PM  
Blogger SM said...

Oh yeah. Me, too. Absolutely. Count me in the pissed off 50%. I can't figure out how that other half is doing it - and I really do want to know. Your description could have been typed by my own fingers. You were living in my head (or I in yours). He is a good husband and a good father and things are infinitely better now that the kids are 3 and 5, but if he talks about what he's earned one more time like that means he shouldn't have to participate, I think I'll lose it. And you know what? I hate myself a little sometimes for just quietly letting it go on. And then, of course, I periodically just blow a gasket.

11:16 PM  
Blogger Awesome Mom said...

I tend to only get angry and rage filled when we both have bad days and he tries to claim that my bad day was nothing and that his was way worse. The problem with my bad days is that they never leave me until bed time (if I am lucky), but he gets to leave the office and leave it all behind.

1:22 AM  
Blogger daniloth said...

Oh, I struggle with this one. Sometimes I'm angry at him, not for not doing household chores and childcare, because he does those things, but because I feel like I have to ask, and remind, and ask, and why the hell can't he just remember???? Remember to take care of filling the diaper container and giving baby medicine and etc., etc., etc. I remember all of it, and more.

I think reading your post has driven home the importance of talking to husband about this. To let him know that sometimes I will be angry, because he doesn't remember, and because he's not required to by society. So some of the anger is at him and some at the world, but how do we handle it together? Because if we don't tackle it together, the anger is going to be a hell of a lot worse.

2:04 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is such a brilliant entry. I too felt irrational anger when my second was born. Yes, it was tied up with my experience of PND. No, it wasn't always directed at my husband but it was often directed at all those childless people in the world who actually enjoyed their lives.

My husband was amazing in those first few months when I was struggling so severely. It was hard to be angry. I was too scared that anger towards him would mean that he would stay away more.

I totally agree that there seems something taboo talking about mother-rage. I didn't experience it with my first so it was a violent slap when it came.

It's nice to hear other women have experienced this as well. No nappy, formula, baby bathing gel ads show mother-rage for sure.

5:17 AM  
Blogger blue milk said...

Interesting post. Personally I think if you're not experiencing some rage as a mother at least occasionally then you might actually be dead.

And as Meredith Michaels said - "Now, a lot of couples enjoy more equality until children arrive. It’s as if the introduction of the child is a chance for the man to regress. Maybe once a woman is a mother, she can kind of be his mother as well. I keep saying to women that wondering, “why am I the one doing ___?” is a feminist thought".

7:37 AM  
Blogger G said...

I am mostly over the anger stage now as my youngest is 4. But I think, looking back, that I did have anger "at my husband" when the babies were little and so, so needy. But I think it was me re-directing the anger that I was really feeling towards the baby. When the baby is colicy and won't stop crying and you just want to throw it really hard across the room -- you feel horribly guilty. Bad Mom! But getting angry at your husband for not being there to deal with colicy baby? That's OK. So I think I re-directed all the rage we felt at the helpless infant/toddler to my husband.

And I have since come to realize that my seeming inability to go out without kids is more me than him. As in, I don't simply say: "Hey, I need to do xx next Saturday. You'll be home, right?" Instead, I ask permission. Not because he ever said or did anything to imply that he thinks he deserves to be asked permission, but because, somehow, in my head, I think I need to ask it. I don't have the right to get angry at him for my own head games.

8:12 AM  
Blogger Amy W said...

I know exactly what you're talking about and love how eloquently and thoughtfully you have put it all together. I saved all my rage for years and years and had it all come seeping out in the last year (after 9 years of parenting!) much to my dismay. I had to start seeing a therapist to help me deal with it.... so much resentment and anger toward him, but so much directed at MYSELF for letting myself get into this situation where I had never voiced how pissed some things made me and how I was the one that asked him if he would watch the kids while I did other things, like I needed permission. Anyway, I am starting to let it go because he now knows how I feel and is trying to pick up some of the slack. But I will always be the "encyclopedia" of the family and that's just the way things are. :)

8:37 AM  
Blogger Chantal said...

I had never felt anger, real searing anger, until I had my first child. That first year, I could barely look at my husband. I think I had expected him to understand what I needed. Why, oh why did I need to tell him when I needed a break, when I needed help. We had many a huge blow out and I realized I needed to tell him what I needed from him. And I don't let him brush me off. I have to be reminded here and there, but it has helped.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Melamalie said...

I am not a mom, but in some ways I can still relate (to a much smaller degree, I'm sure) to some of what you've said. I'm already experiencing anger at my husband's "forgetting" about household tasks. I can relate to the other people who have commented that they just want him to remember what needs to be done without being told. I also feel anger at his freedom - he can stay late at work because he knows I'm home making dinner for him. He can spend hours training for triathlon because he knows I'm at home doing the housework. I think my strong reaction to this post is a good reminder that this is something I need to deal with in my relationship before we decide to have kids!

Thank you.

8:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There is anger. Most of the time the AWARENESS that I/We chose this lifestyle makes the anger seem like a small sliver of ugliness in an otherwise idealic life. But, BUT, other times the enormity of my responsibility engulfs me and the anger roars to the size of a tsunami.
I think many things contribute to this. The lack of appreciation that I have in all honesty the "harder" job, the lack of a paystub saying "this is how much you are worth", the lack of sleep, the inability to go to the bathroom by myself, and the million of other things my husband takes for granted. All of these things fan that small flame of resentment and anger.
Usually, however, the small blessings I receive by staying at home quiet that beastly anger. So I try to focus on those small blessings and the fact that knowing all of this CRAP I would still choose my life as it is. This helps.

9:10 AM  
Blogger anniemom said...

This is exactly where I am right now with my 2 year old and 4 month old, and on top of the anger (and sometimes rage) I feel, usually directed at my poor husband, I feel guilt for feeling it. Smacks of PPD, I'm afraid. But damn, I just can't seem to get ENOUGH - - I mean, enough sleep, enough lovin, enough self-time, enough fiber... it's just really, really, really hard, and that's why we do it, and not them. I think the emotional overload could cause a lot of men to just shut down. Who knows. But damn. And damn. I'm angry and not proud of it.

9:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a single parent, but me and dad have a really good friendship and we're in similar positions right now, we're both students. He's doing a PhD while living at home with his parents. I'm doing my first degree whilst caring for the monster and looking after my own house, paying the bills yada yada. I get about 9k a year, he gets 13k a year research grant -- and pays no rent at home. If the JERK tells me he's broke once more I'm seriously going to murder him.

If I have an assignment due in, I have to book a weekend for the monster to be at his about a month in advance. He gets all the time in the world to do his. If he wants to go out in the evening or weekends he just does it. I have to ask permission for everything. He bought a PS3 the other day because 'if I don't have some time doing something I enjoy then I'll burn out'. O.M.G. My evening = cleaning, running up and down stairs putting the three year old in bed and trying to do this degree.

He stays at my house Saturday nights since he lives a couple of hours away which is nice because I make him cook and do the dishes. He sleeps on a camp bed in the monster's room. Saturday night the kid was SCREAMING, I had to go downstairs from my attic bedroom to see if he was ok because daddy hadn't even woken up and he was in the same goddamn room.

It's not so much the unfairness of the situation for me. I'm happy as a single mum and I wouldn't really want my life any other way. It's the fact that he BITCHES that he never gets a fucking minute to himself, when seriously, he has a girlfriend, he has friends at uni, he goes for nights out, his MUMMY COOKS HIS MEALS. It's the fact that he has this 'oh woe is me' attitude that I just can't handle.

If he isn't careful I'm going to freak out on his ass this weekend because I have PMT and he's going to ask for next weekend off babycare duty tyo wine and dine his new girlfriend, he just hasn't had the bals to ask me yet.

Me? I have to ask 4 weeks in advance, him, he just assumes he can have a weekend off whenever.

9:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, thank you. Last weekend we took a day to connect (requires sitting on the porch drinking beer, lol) and our conversation touched this- specifically why I had screamed and gotten all mad about him tracking mud onto my freshly mopped floors after he came home from work. I said that mud+ floors=no respect. No respect= no love. He bristled, of course and said that my anger at him was not an isolated incident, and I guess that I have to agree, none of it is that big of a deal, but I feel like MY WHOLE LIFE CHANGED, his did too, but he can ignore it a bit more now, whereas my life change is with me and on my mind every minute. Motherhood is the most precious life change and disaster to happen to my personhood as of yet. I love her, yet sometimes I don't feel like a whole person, and never like the person I was before.

10:02 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I recently renovated (painted) our master bathroom and was patting myself on the back for doing it completely alone. My husband chimed in that he contributed by watching the kids. Yes. He. Did.

10:27 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Personally, I think that as long as we think of fathers as 'supportive' of the (their own!) family gig, and western societies are set up in a way that that's as far as we can imagine things to go, us women will remain angry. For good reasons, most of the time.

10:42 AM  
Blogger Petra a.k.a The Wise (*Young*) Mommy said...

I relate 100% to this post because I have felt the resentment MANY times, especially because I work from home full time AND take care of the children and the house. I have communicated this to my husband many times and we are working together to split up the parenting and household duties more now, and sometimes my husband just does something nice or goes out of his way to make me feel good when he knows I have has a particularly stressful week. It seems to be working and I resent him a lot less lately. Less, but it is still hard.

10:48 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I can't even count the number of times my husband and I have had the "It's not like I just sit around at work and drink coffee all day you know - it's a hugely physical job!" "Yes but you get to sit down for 30 minutes and eat your lunch while it's hot, and get 2 15-minute breathers without wiping an ass or having your boobs gnawed and you get to LEAVE your job every day and I work 24 FREAKING HOURS A DAY without an emotional break and you DON'T UNDERSTAND!" argument. I definitely got way pissed that I had to ask him to watch the kids while I peed and felt guilty about it, or that if I tried to get a break I'd get a baby shoved at me because he was STARVING you know, or because the baby HATES my husband you know.
However, he's definitely getting it back now that the baby refuses to settle for anyone else but him in the middle of the night and he has to get up at 5 AM to go to work.

10:49 AM  
Blogger Chicky Chicky Baby said...

*furiously nodding*


Also it's easy to get mad at our husbands. They're the other "responsible" adult in the house. It's infinitely harder to turn that anger back at ourselves for accepting a lot of the shit work.

I'm in the same boat you are right now and when I look in the mirror I'd like to punch the person looking back at me sometimes because she's tired and overwhelmed and just can't get her act together and I hate that about her. So I take that anger and take it out on the only person who can shoulder it for awhile - my husband. Not that he doesn't deserve a lot of the anger, because oh boy, he does...


10:59 AM  
Blogger Heather said...

What an awesome post. I am constantly struggling with the feelings of anger, frustration, happiness and envy. My husband starts his day with a shower after sleeping through the night. He drinks his coffee while surfing the internet. He get dressed in the bedroom with the door closed. That get him to about 8am and his day has been a breeze.

I understand he has to work and that he makes money. He understand my job does not have a price on it and that what I do is important but it is still not fair. Happy hour, lacrosse weeknights, weekend trips to hunt, ect. WTF? Cause I do not need a break or help. He is a good man and I know he appreciates what I do but the balance in our house is so out of sync it is crazy. And it isn't fair. AT ALL. It would help if I did not have to nag him to put the laptop down, get off the blackberry or help with housework but he doesnt get it. He thinks because I am home all day I have free time. Um, hello? I also pee with the baby on my lap. I get dressed in the kitchen. I cant shower when alone because the baby can now climb out of the crib. It is both wonderful to be raising my children the way I want to, but also frustrating and lonely. It is hard to watch him want to "relax" when he gets home. Um, because driving home alone in the car is not relaxing? Well, for me it is. No baby songs, no whining, no entertaining someone. ALONE. Just give me what you have. Give me that time to myself. Give me a hand. Give me the extra care you give your friends in need. I am hoping this gets better as the kids get older. Hope Hope Hope.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Mayberry said...

I posted on this briefly, once; I direct my rage at my husband because I don't want to direct it at my children or myself.

11:15 AM  
Blogger Kae said...

When i was married i got angry at my husband only once (that had to do with this)my less than 6 month old was sick and so was i. I begged him to stay home (we also have a 3 yr old at the time)and help or take care of the kids. nope. he went out. and stayed out. Now im single and i get mad at dads who get SOO much credit for doing things they should be doing in the first place. OHHH i changed a diaper yay me. Riight. But im not bitter. :)

11:28 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You, pissed at me? I hadn't noticed.

11:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Whoa. I hate to be a bit egocentric, but I think you wrote this post for me. My husband and I have had the most incredible, loved-up relationship until our beautiful bundle came into the world last August. Last night we had one of our biggest arguments to date and it was because of just what you wrote here. Except I didn't know that at the time and I just began yelling this incredibly crazy rant about him turning his socks right-side-out and it all started because, God forbid, he tried to have sex with me -- I refused, and he got whiny about it. Anyway, I guess I do have the rage.

What do we DO about it?!! I hate it. I don't want to be like this. I feel frigid and grumpy. But it is so hard to not be envious of him and his freedom even though I know he is working and feeling loads of pressures in his own life.

I guess drinking and foot-rubbing are the only solutions?

11:44 AM  
Blogger Jenera said...

I have a 2 month old now so I'm in that weird stage of hating everyone. But I don't think that anger has ever been directed to my hubby.

he's a trucker and has been since we got married so I'm used to doing everything by myself. He does help when he's home but it's not the same.

I find my anger directed at other women that complain about their children when they DO have a partner/spouse at home or other people supporting them. I get angry when I am told to suck it up and I'm just being a baby yet they complain of things more trivial than I.

That's where my anger is directed at.

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I never really thought about it before but I am angry, disgruntled and jealous. I know that I shouldn't be but there were times when I have wished that I didn't have an audience when I went to the bathroom or that house magically cleaned itself.

My husband is great but you're right there are doofus moments when I just want to kill him.

I am not sure how to handle my moments / hours of anger but I wish I had a heads up that this was going to happen.

That's for the post. You've really given me something to think about.

11:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

i have in the past felt anger at my husband but now i feel none. he works hard at what he does and i work hard at what i do.and yes sometimes things are not evenly balanced.

11:56 AM  
Blogger Amy Jo said...

I get angry, but my husband is one of the good ones. He is always pitching in and doing things without asking, so I feel like an awful, raging bitch when the anger creeps in. But no matter how hard I try, I have moments when I seethe. I think it has to do more with a fundamental lack of understanding about each other's daily lives. Maybe that's why moms tend to bond so strongly with other mothers, especially in the early days.

But I love him so. I really do. Even when I'm blind with rage that he went out on a three hour lunch date on my 30th birthday. Which fell on a Sunday.

12:22 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I don't know if my opinion really counts yet, since I am not yet a stay at home mom. My husband and I are expecting our first child in May. We weren't really thinking that we could afford for me to stay at home with the baby, but we relooked at our finances and relooked at them again, and figured out a way that we could do it. It means cutting back a lot, but we figure it will be worth it in the end.

So right now, what I feel the most is grateful to him. I feel guilty that he is having to take on the huge responsibility of having to support us all by himself. And I just feel really lucky that I have such a great guy.

To me it's a privilege to get to stay home with your children, because again, there are so many who can't afford to do that. It's just not even an option.

I don't know if I'll have this clarity of mind once the baby comes, say in July or August. Perhaps then I will be angry, but I can't help thinking that even then I'll be grateful for the opportunity to be the one to care for our baby, because even though we might have been able to find a really good care provider, no one is going to care for them or love them as much as he and I do.

12:37 PM  
Blogger hschinske said...

I totally agree with Mommy Writes about displacement of anger. You don't get to be mad at a little baby, so you get mad at the adult, who can presumably take it. (I'm of course leaving out the cases where the husband *is* being a pill.)

In my case, I'm not sure I tended to get mad at my husband so much ... it was more getting mad at myself (which wasn't all that healthy either).

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think perhaps in our family we've found the balance that keeps the anger away. I am a WOHM and my husband is a SAHD. However, many of the responsibilities that you described above with regards to medical appointments, school related responsibilities, kids friends, buying clothes for the kids, etc. do fall primarily on my shoulders.

However, I do also get to walk out the door in the morning, wave goodbye, and say "see you later" to my husband and daughter and I get to drop my son off at school and say "see you at the end of the day". My job is stressful and its hard. But it is also rewarding and gives me a change of pace from parenting. It is hard in all the ways that parenting is not and easy in all the ways parenting is not.

And my husband does take care of many things that I might have to if I was a SAHM. He does almost all of the laundry (we cloth diaper and I can't remember the last time I washed a load - that is love!!!), he does the dishes, he cleans. I cook and do the grocery shopping, school related stuff, and clothes shopping.

My husband is also doing his PhD and goes snowboarding with friends, so he has some intellectual and physical relief from parenting.

I think this balance allows us not to get angry. It doesn't mean that we never get upset with each other, but I don't think either of us harbours any deep resentment about the division of labour.

1:10 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do feel somewhat jealous at the walking at the door thing and then coming back late that night for hubby. But in the morning and as soon as he steps in the door he is hands on with the kids (so I try not to complain!). What is frustrating is that these wonderful little critters that you love so much have not real idea of why it is important that they do their routines everyday (brushing teeth, going to school, doing homework, practicing reading). And your job is to keep them moving in the right direction while they fight and disagree and do kid like things.. And all I want to say is "I am doing this to help you be successful - can't you see that.. homework is essential to your future"!!! Not that it makes me angry or anything..

1:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I guess I did not realize how equally my husband and I divide things until now. With us it was never a discussion - we just did it. I suppose we had to talk about it at some point, though... I can get annoyed at him when he comes home and starts picking up the house instead of taking over the kids, but I know he is annoyed that the house is destroyed, too. We each clean (actually clean, not pick up) when we can't take it any longer. I do everything with the laundry except putting away. I HATE putting it away, so that's his responsibility. I generally cook, but he will if we are having something he can make (like ham & beans tonight... which he is doing so I can go to a step class at the gym).

We also have the agreement that I work out on Tuesday & Thursday evenings and on Saturday mornings and he gets to go in the morning before he goes to work and after the kids are in bed for the night. We ask each other "permission" to be away when we are usually home. I breast feed, but I leave milk at home for the times I want to be away. I also work part time, so I get a break from the kids (one is nearly 3 years & the other is nearly 3 months). But I also get to be home to take the older one to library group and dance class and/or to lunch or play with friends' kids (yes, the baby goes with us).

I have a friend who totally fits into the "mad at dad" camp. And she is talking about having #3. Dad does not want another one. I cannot understand why mom would want another one when she feels that dad does not help enough with the 2 that they have. She'll have even more work to do with the same amount of participation from dad as she gets now - which will feel like less then b/c there is another person to take care of!

However, we may also have a unique situation of having no one to help us at all. My mother died about 5 years ago and no other grandparents are around enough to help. The most involved live 2 hours away and "most involved" means seeing them about once every 6-8 weeks. That being said, we know that all we have is each other, which may very well make us more cognizant of our needs as a family.

I agree with one of the anon comments that you need to get away. I also tend to think that Jasper will take a bottle if he's hungry enough and there is no other option. This isn't fun, but maybe you need to buy several types of bottles and find the one he likes. I actually think you could use regular breaks, even if that comes in the form of a part time job (so that you can't easily skip it). Good luck and thanks for making me realize that I should appreciate my husband and let him know it!

1:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I do get angry. I get angry that we've been parents for almost 11 years, and the default is still free to do whatever, whereas I am the one take care of it all. I've tried, many times over the years, to explain why I get frustrated and burned out, how I cannot have him just assume that he can make plans away from home without checking. I get angry that leaving town for 4-5 days for a business trip or a training course means I spend the days before I leave making lists of reminders for what day the ballet bag needs to be taken to school, which days are hot lunch, how to cook the casserole that I left in the fridge. That those 5 days gone will be filled with messages asking for whatever I didn't anticipate needing to pass along (where do we keep the library cards?)

I do get angry. I get angry at things at work, angry that my children are facing uphill battles at school or in their mental health, and there is nothing I can do to fix it. And sometimes my husband gets caught in the crossfire. I try not to take things out on him, try not to let him be the 'whipping boy' for the times when the universe conspires against me. And sometimes he gets mad about those same universal conspiracies, and I am the one who takes anger that isn't earned.

I get angry. I get angry at the attitude of so many people who observe the brief moments when I put my foot down and step away, forcing my husband to do what needs done on his own for just a little teeny while, when he is heaped with praise for what an outstanding father he is for doing what I do day in and day out, week after week.

I get angry. I get angry that I cannot let myself enjoy a few hours away from home, getting a haircut (ha! my last haircut was in June!) or reading a magazine while I drink some coffee. Self care and leisure activities are something I deserve, but I've let myself be programmed not to just take what I deserve. I allow myself to feel guilty at the rough time my husband had at home when the dog got sick on the carpet right at the same time as the youngest needed help pouring the milk and the two older kids were fighting over whose turn it was to be on the computer...

yes. I get angry.

2:14 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I get angry at my husband, sometimes. Not as often as the children grow older. But it's generally when I am exhausted, sick, and at the end of my limits. And wouldn't you know, those are the times that he is usually sick, and exhausted and at the end of his rope, too. So, I get blisteringly angry, and we fight. But I know that he does help out, he twists his schedule so I can get my time away, and while he doesn't clean toilets, or floors, he does bathe the children pretty much daily, and helps with homework, and will grocery shop, and the list goes on of where he assists when needed.

I used to get a lot more angry, during the time that I felt I was being held hostage in the home to small children, who nursed, and wouldn't take bottles, and needed my touch on their skin and my voice in their ear for them to settle and be content in their world. But I thought about it, and realised that even if they would take a bottle, I generally chose not to leave them anyway. I chose to not introduce them to strangers to provide them with care, so I could go out for an hour, because the work involved in introducing the bottle, or adapting them to another's care (and the fallout at home, as they freaked out after) just was not worth the hour away. So, I accepted. I didn't like it much, at first, but I accepted that this is the way it will be for this (relatively) short span of time. And I could use my energy being mad about it, and mad at the world, or I could accept my choice with a measure of grace and calm, and soon many of the edges of my self-directed anger smoothed out. I still got mad sometimes, because, the lack of sleep, the job of mothering and being a SAHM, is all tough, and we're entitled to our feelings. But I was not mad at my husband in the same way, because of the circumstances that I chose.

But I get furious at the pats on the back that men tend to get for small feats of helping out, as if they are performing magic tricks, instead of doing what they should be doing as an involved co-parent. And that fury is directed at society, for the gross double standard with respect to women assuming all aspects of child care, and men not being expected to take on the same level of care, or any care sometimes.

3:06 PM  
Blogger tallulah said...

Yes, I get angry. But would I really trade it for being away from my children all day? Would I want the HUGE responsibility for be the financial supporter for our large family and the pressures that comes along with it? No.
Sure, the men have some perks... but certainly not enought for me to change our family circumstances.

3:07 PM  
Blogger dogwooddiarist said...

Great post. I struggle with this question almost every day of my life: do I hate my husband, or do I just hate myself? Am I an enraged, embittered, unfulfilled woman whose husband just happens to get the brunt of my otherwise indiscriminate anger? Or, did I marry the wrong person, and he's the one who's made me this way? (Victim's question, I know).

I know that husband-directed rage among married women with children is more common than many women like to admit, though certainly not true across the board. It comforts me that I'm not alone. And it is my primary goal to understand the problem better.

I read the Motherlode article the other day and felt that it was way oversimplified. The mothers portrayed in that article struck me as control freaks who needed to micromanage every detail of their childrens' lives to the point that anyone's help would be inadequate, if it weren't first rejected. The article made me dislike "moms" as a category, and root for dads. How can any self-respecting mother truly view it as a "duty" of parenthood to make class valentines, much less expect that from a father? And the mother who won't let Dad take over for fear that, in her absence, the kids will get too much TV, hotdogs and cheezits? Come on. We have to pick our battles if we want a life for ourselves.

I am derisive of these moms, because I think they make their own beds, but I'm also one of them, if not taken to such an extreme. I'm home with the kids full-time, and I feel trapped and resentful. I feel like I deserve a medal if I manage to keep my kids happy and make a nice family meal. It's not something I can do with any regularity.

My husband on the other hand? I have noticed that when he takes over with the kids, he gets TONS done. He can clean the house up, do home repairs, get papers graded, shovel the driveway, and make a great dinner. Even take a nap. How does he do it? The kids don't get out to the park or the library; they don't get whole, nutritious foods; and for recreation, they play with his power tools, watch videos, watch more videos, and get dragged to his office. When he wants to nap, they nap or lie with him, or watch a video.

I wonder if my husband were the full-time parent, would this be the norm? Or would he rearrange his life to be more kid-friendly? I suspect that he would have a ton of hobbies and that he would flourish in them. He might even be able to have a job at home (like you, Bad Mother). Explain to us how you manage that?

But anyway, in recent months I have finally developed an interest of my own, other than my kids. It is the first time since leaving my full time job that I have actually felt drawn to something other than my kids and housework (which I have to admit, has never been a draw exactly, even if it has been pleasurable). I have created my own blog, and set reading and writing goals for each day. I could do this ALL day long, but instead, I have to steal time from my kids to do it. And the kids are getting less from me. We are not doing all the museum/library/park/mommy playdates that we used to do. The kids play around the house and create chaos. They pull apart the pantry and the game chest. They dress up and make pretend. They fight, scream, and come crying to me. I suggest options for them. They don't take me up on them and instead pester me. I yell at them, send them to their rooms, feed them, or give them a video. My only self-imposed rule is that I will read to them when they ask for a book, or when I think that would be a nice interlude for them.

When hubby comes home, the laundry is not done, the house is not clean, and the dinner is sometimes made, sometimes not. He is not complaining, although I think I detect some regretful amusement at the fact that his wife has become more lax and forgetful and it falls to him to pick up the slack if he wants or needs something.

But he has always said (in response to those rages that he wishes would go away), "I just want you to be happy." And he's reading my blog, and enjoying it. So, we'll see if this works.

Last thing: there is a video/list floating around the web, entitled "Nine Phrases Women Use", which speaks, I think, very much to this subject of women's anger. I don't find it particularly funny -- it's quite demeaning actually -- but it is resonant. Check it out at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2OOD7VwGmdk. Or, read my commentary at http://dogwooddiarist.blogspot.com/2009/02/nine-words-women-use.html.

3:09 PM  
Blogger Sarahviz said...

Oh the anger. The rage. I remember it well. And definitely believe that PPD played a large part. Now that the boyz are 7,4 and 3, it has subsided. But it manifests itself in other ways, now that our roles have changed. I work full-time out of the home with a long commute. Hubby is now responsible for more of the traditional "mommy" duties during the week. He cooks dinner every night. He packs snacks/lunches and backpacks. He gets them dressed, teeth brushed and on the bus/takes them to preschool. He does pick-ups from the sitter's house. I am simply NOT THERE to be able to do so. That was our arrangement when I decided to go back to work full time.

Yet. On weekends? I am the one cleaning. I am the one doing laundry. I am the one buying new shoes/clothes/coats/etc. When all I really want to do is CHILL, RELAX and spend time w/ my boyz who I don't see nearly enough of during the week. (I won't even mention the Mommy Guilt I feel about my working arrangement. It smothers and chokes me daily.)

So yeah, I'm angry. Deep down, I'm angry that I HAVE to work. That he doesn't make more $$$. That we've gotten ourselves into this financial situation by not making wise economical decisions in the past.


3:24 PM  
Blogger Gina said...

I definitely get the rage. My husband and I both work the same hours, have the same long commute, and if you want to get really nit-picky - I make more and get the insurance too. And yet, I do WAY more than he does.

3:27 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh, it's complicated.

The short answer is, I have had that anger, in the past. That resentment, when even when I was working 40 hours a week outside of the home I was still somehow running more than 50% of the household details. But it has eased... as the kids get older, as my husband gets more involved with the small details (making him take the kids to get their hair cut and see the doctor is a very important thing - hard to let go of that control, for me, but really good for him to experience those responsibilities).

In May 2007, I went to Paris for 10 days with my mother and sisters. I left the kids with my husband, and I did not leave behind one single instruction. No lists, no reminders. We have the calendar on the fridge, and I trusted him to get our daughter to art class and softball, etc. And he did it, and it was hard, and that's precisely when I stopped being angry.

Because suddenly I felt like my role in the house was more of a choice - because the household really could continue to function if I stepped out. And feeling that choice went a LONG way toward defusing that rage.

(Yeah - that's the short answer. Hah.)

3:29 PM  
Blogger Piece of Work said...

I had TONS of resentment towards my husband when the kids were babies. And then I had TONS of guilt about it because I knew, rationally, that it wasn't his fault, though it sure as hell felt like it, and it sure felt better to blame him than to just accept my lot. It got much better when the kids were ages 3 & 4. Once they are more self-sufficent, that resentment just goes away.
But you are right, there is a lot of anger, and maybe it's directed at the husbands, but they are not doing things intentionally, most of the time.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I agree and disagree.
I used to get mad at my husband, because he didn't feel guilty at making plans...he just went ahead and did them. And I felt guilty, leaving him home alone. Well, that's all my own baggage and I got over that by setting 'dates' with myself and following thru. (usually buying expensive tickets to something...every 3 months or so)
And let me ask you this...if you worked in an environment where certain things were just 'done', and you knew that they would get done, and done well, would you step in and take that task over. Just because? Probably not. He doesn't have to sweat this stuff because you are...even they are BOTH of your kids.

But do you have to sit there and 'eat it' when the boss is being a dick, because the babies need shots?

Good post!!

4:04 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A little off-topic, but I have to admit my anger is mostly directed towards the moms with the "easy" babies. You hit on it in your last post, the moms that look at you like you're stunned because your kid is putting you through the wringer while their's sleep twelve solid hours every night. The moms that don't realize that it's largely luck and not parenting skills. Ok I'm done venting now. thanks.

8:18 PM  
Blogger Julie Marsh said...

Tallulah, you're falsely assuming that the angry women here don't work themselves, aren't just as financially responsible for the family as their husbands.

In fact, many of us bring in just as much, if not more, money to the household income.

Furthermore, it's not a matter of trading the "perks" of being the breadwinner for the sacrifice of being away from the children all day. Whether we work outside the home or not, much of these responsibilities still fall on us.

8:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not a mom yet but what you've written makes complete sense, in my opinion. I don't look forward to experiencing that anger myself but I'm sure it'll happen!

Take care. I hope you get some sleep soon!

9:19 PM  
Blogger blissfully caffeinated said...

Oh, YES. Hell yes. I was so furious for months and months after our second child was born and my husband traipsed off to work 3 days after my C-Section that I had divorce fantasies constantly. It's better now, because we divide up the work so much more equally since our girls have gotten older. But I still get furious when he complains about being tired when I am the one who gets up with the kids at night.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Colleen - Mommy Always Wins said...

This is exactly why I work. (Well, that and I still make quite a bit more money than Hubs does, but stick with me here.)

Even if we could afford for me to stay home full time I don't know that I could. Right now, we flip-flop shifts. I work first and he second and we're home with the boys for the hours we're not at work. We rarely see each other, but right now its the perfect balance for us. Even if we wish things were a bit different, there's a lot of happy and very little anger.

Of course, it helps that in every situation he knows EXACTLY how I feel - cuz if I have to leave the house with two kids to grocery shop so does he.

11:02 PM  
Blogger Candace April said...

Funny. I just typed your blog into my address bar so I could link it on a post riffing a little on this topic.

I think that there's a LOT going on here.

Maybe some of it is the instant gratification idea--like we can't be primarily moms now and then primarily something else another time?

Or maybe we've bought into the idea that motherhood isn't "good enough." "Women's work" (not that child-rearing is, but mothering by definition would be) gets devalued--wrote a paper once on how the prestige of teaching fell once it was labeled such.

Dunno. But I know I like reading your thoughts.

11:12 PM  
Blogger SUEB0B said...

I don't know about this parenting stuff. But I do know that, as children, we liked Dad better because he was less angry. When Mom was gone, he let us eat pancakes for dinner and wear dirty shirts. I think that women are way too hard on themselves and make life so complicated. Sometimes the brochure version of parenting is what kids want - a birthday where you don't have a party but you get to play down at the lake all day and get taken out to ice cream after, rather than a big production number where the tablecloth matches the napkins. I know someone has to be the onsite, always on-the-ball parent, but I also think women could learn something valuable from men and their relaxed cluelessness.

12:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I know in my head it's ridiculous to feel anger when my husband leaves for WORK! Hello... no house or food if he decided to stay home... But I do. I can't even explain it, because it doesn't make sense.


I started to read him this, so I could maybe explain my irrational rage at the fact the poor man goes to work, and he admitted to me that he had read the parenting article in the magazine b/c he wanted to know why I was mad... he said he was surprised to see that I was 'normal' - ha! I have noticed a HUGE!! change in him since he read it (noticed the change before I knew he had read it) When I wake up in the morning, I find the house picked up and dishes done... um. wow! Seriously... he has been getting up early and cleaning the house BEFORE work. How can I be mad???

I'm thankful parenting mag and you, Cathrine were able to put it into words for me.

9:37 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just want you to know that I've been reading your blog for awhile now, and this is one of the best things you've ever written. I shared it with my husband, highlighting some of the parts that apply to us. Thank you for so eloquently putting these thoughts into written form, because for the life of me, I had no idea why I was so pissed at him. And yeah - what you said. :)

2:28 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I think much of this anger is - as you said - over anger that we, by default as women, have to handle 80% of the child rearing.

But think about it -- just 20 years ago -- it was standard fair for women to stay home. Today, we grew up with a different story. You can have kids, have the fabulous career and the great husband. Yes, you can do it all.

So some of the resentment felt by stay at home moms, could be, because their husbands do get to leave and they don't. That is a new feeling and expectation.

And it's fucking with our heads.

I wrote a post about this - I really hope you take a second to read it, although I know you're sleep deprived and impossibly popular.


3:58 PM  
Blogger MrsVladdevlor said...

I went through that stage of being mad (especially at my husband) but now I think I'm more mad at the parenting arrangement, like you said, I love my daughter (of course) but sometimes it just feels like I'm on call 24/7 whereas my husband does get a break from his work and so sometimes it doesn't seem fair.. But I think I'm learning to accept the whole thing, since I don't think I'm going to be changing the way society makes us do certain things in a certain way... :)

8:05 PM  
Blogger Mimi said...

Um, have you met me? I'm angry most of the time. I soooo well remember being angry when Pynchon came home at 5:17 instead of 5:10, because that seven minutes was everything to my sanity. Mad that when I was on leave, he walked out the door every morning and let it all go, but when he was on leave I pumped milk 3 times a day and cried a lot. Continue to be mad because SWEET MERCIFUL JESUS how FUCKING HARD is it to remember to pack extra underpants in the bag? Where the health card is? Where the Little Ponies are hidden? Etc. Why do I have to, in addition to being the Mommy of First Resort, have to manage the adminstration of life single-handledly? Honestly. That pisses me off.

9:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You asked if it would be different if he stayed home and you worked.
Well, from my experience - Yes and NO.
For the first eight years of our kids lives, my husband had his own business and worked from home while I worked corporate (choice we made due to fear of losing the health insurance my job provided and his could not). The only difference was our physical daily locations. I was the one to leave in the morning to a cold cup of coffee. He cooked, he cleaned, laundry, helped the kids write, play, interact, go to the park, grocery shopping (INCLUDING VEGGIES/FRUIT), and made a small income off his business - you name it. I was ANGRY because he was doing what I thought, imagined, had ingrained in me by society, my maternal heritage, etc. was MY JOB and why the fuck were the kids well adjusted, happy, healthy little bundles of joy instead of whacked out terrors who desperately needed their Mommy to stay home?
We are on equal footing now - both working outside the home while our kids are in public school - and you know what?
I still get angry at him. And even though I know it's NOT HIM that I am angry at anymore, I am unable or unwilling to suppress it. Thank God I have told him this so we can survive this very difficult, surprising and joyful journey of married together parenthood...Thanks for reading long rant - Peace!

10:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm right there with you on anger - I've never experienced anger so intense in my life before becoming a parent - but not on one thing. I don't have a husband to direct that rage at. I'm a single mom, and let me tell you that the rage is still there. Only it swirls around me in a choking dust storm and has nowhere to lash out at - not even at my son's father, as I'm quite happy that he's gone. Before I got it a bit under control my son witnessed me throwing a shoe at a door. Two days later I put a hole in my (fragile old plaster) wall with a vacuum. Now he doesn't witness it any more, as he started throwing things too!

Anyway, I think perhaps the anger is part of being a mom. It's everything all wrapped up, the exhaustion, the frustration, the isolation, hormones from hell, feeling responsible for everything, never getting to really look after yourself, missing sleeping in, reading books, evenings flopped on the couch doing nothing more than staring at the TV. In the case of married or partnered moms it winds up being directed at the husband/partner.

I've had a book recommended to me, but still haven't picked it up. Budhism for Mothers, I think the title was. Might be worth a look.

10:14 PM  
Blogger Lydia said...

I am angry as well. I work full-time in a high-stress job, hour commute each way, trying to finish a PhD and have a 4 year old and 9 month old.

There are many levels on which I am just nuts... but it sure does seem like my husband has it easy. He works 5 minutes from our house, university job in which he seems to have it pretty easy.

I love my children more than I can believe, but they still drive me crazy sometimes. And I am the one who handles all the minutae of our life. Sometimes I just hate it.

But your post helped me to put words to my anger and also ask the questions you did. I think I am more mad at the situation than the man. Although the man maddens me too! I wish society in general placed more importance on "motherly tasks".

Maybe that's the job for our daughters!

6:18 AM  
Blogger Blog said...

I've actually written quite a lot about anger on my blog -- partly as a good way to deal with it and to connect with others who are angry! I really think anger is like anxiety -- that, as you put it SO WELL, "fetishizing the inside of your own head." Our minds are just so heavy all the time -- not only are we trapped in our homes, can't go out on a whim, etc., but we are trapped in our heads, constantly second guessing ourselves. And, it gets tiring, and it gets to be too much. Sooner or later, we explode with it -- in the form of anger toward our spouse, who comes dilly-dallying in after a day of adult interaction, interaction with people WHO WILL LISTEN. And, sometimes, it's like you have ANOTHER baby to tend for, as you put dinner on the table, etc.

It's f*ing hard.

ALSO, I notice, when I'm not sleeping, I get ANGRY. After a good sleep, I feel better. Less anxious, less angry.

We resent them, too, because they can't possibly give us the emotional support we need - because they can't understand..., because of that "patriarchal hangover" thing....

this comment is all over the place, too. Because I, too, never get to sleep. I'm an angry BEAST! ;)

11:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't get me started...
I feel rage when I am told my grumbling about sleep is unjustified...as HE is the one working long hours and working from home too...while I go to bed early.

I go to bed early because I can't think anymore and KNOW that in two or three hours I will have kids, dogs, and snoring husbands disturbing ANY rest I try to get.

I get fed up being told how trivial MY issues are compared to his big money support the family issues.

I get told of dealing with weekends where HE suddenly notices the kids and pushes HIS way with the kids over what they have gotten used to with ME all week long.

Don't get me started..

3:05 PM  
Blogger Mamalang said...

I have experienced this anger, and sometimes I still do. But I work outside the home, and still do all thos things. So for me, it isn't about freedom, but being overwhelmed and needing some help. Which for the most part, he's awesome about providing, but there are still those days.

And you know what? I'm sure he gets angry at me sometimes, because I left crap in the garage again, or whatever. That's part of marriage.

But I understand that anger.

9:43 PM  
Blogger JohnMcG said...

A couple thoughts from the perspective of a man whose wife seems to be coming out of this anger with our children being 5 and 3.

We laugh it off a bit, but I think there are significant downsides to this:

1.) As the Parenting article noted there are significant health concerns for women carrying this level of anger.

2.) Would you want the job of Dad? You get to work a full-time job outside the home, have your free time and paycheck eaten up, and have the person you wanted to love and support you be constantly furious at you even when it's not really your fault. Sign me up!

Like it or not, being an involved Dad is still somewhat of a "choice" for men, and it's a decreasingly appetizing one.


And I don't know a way around it. HBM recommends drinks and foot rubs, but my experience is that those are as likely to be spurned as welcomed.

@sarah wrote: Seriously... he has been getting up early and cleaning the house BEFORE work. How can I be mad???

Not to be glib, but my suspicion is she will eventually find a way. I tried this route as well, and nearly ran myself crazy, thinking if only I did a few more things, worked a little harder, scrubbed the dishes a bit more thoroughly, then she couldn't be mad at me. My experience is this had the opposite affect.

There's also the train of thought that over-doing chores like this is an effort to "control" one's spouse by removing plausible reasons she might have to be mad at me.

And I am now carrying scars, and they don't go away. Being called a "third child" while working two jobs and doing more than my share of the household chored and requring nothing from her (she admitted) to take care of me hurts.

I know most of the readers are thinking, "that's nothing compared to what we've been through...," and that maybe the case.

And maybe there is no way around it, and we just have to suck it up. But I'd sure like us to know before we give up.

11:29 PM  
Blogger Janani Barath said...

I love reading your blogposts.... I am writing from India and when i read this blog I sometimes feel that it is a really small world with women facing identical problems and at other times I feel like you are from a different planet :)

7:50 AM  
Blogger Ali said...

When i was playing the part of stay at home mom...from when emily was born, to when josh was born 20 months later, until he was almost 2..when i went back to work...i spent A LOT of time being angry and jealous.

that i couldn't pee. that i couldn't go out to lunch. mostly that i couldn't take a shower, get dressed and walk out of the house every morning. I WAS MAD THAT I COULDN'T LEAVE. i was 100% trapped with all this baggage.

but now that both the husband and i work it's so 100% different. we are a team. we have equal remembering responsibilities...playdates, parent/teacher conferences, to buy the milk. that, to me, made it so much easier. things didn't get DEFAULTED to me just because i was the one at home.

8:45 AM  
Blogger Robbin said...

Oooh. Put me in the 50%. Because I read the article and I wanted to CUT IT OUT and post it on my refrigerator.

I think they nailed it for me with this - I get furious because my husband simply CANNOT multitask. I have to juggle sixty things at once - including a lot of business travel. I am the one to handle all the daycare "extras" - the valentines, the parties, the spare clothes. He pats himself on the back if he remembers to brush Harry's teeth before he gets out the door.

I don't know what I am expecting from a gender that evolved to follow the ass-end of an animal for hundreds of miles, hunt it down and kill it. God bless them - they were simply made for single-mindedness and they can't help it. But it still pisses me off.

12:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sorry but no, I am not angry at my husband. Not never, but hardly ever. Not just because he takes a lot of parenting responsibility on - though he does - but also because I'm just not that overwhelmed most of the time. I am lucky enough to get a decent sleep almost every night because, though I'm up feeding multiple times, the feedings are very brief and I have the enviable ability to fall asleep quickly after each is over. Also, if I'm tired from an unusually difficult night I often go to bed around 8:00 pm the next night. I really think this sleep thing is key and that I'd feel completely differently if I didn't get enough.

I do get to feeling isolated and bored, especially in the winter when it's hard to take the baby out at all and walks are pretty much off the table. But rarely does that translate to anger at my husband.

12:43 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm a woman, a new mother, and am angry at times at my husband. And yet, what really got me was SUEB0B's comment.

YES!!! Why do we complicate everything? We are living in an age of hyperparenting, cluttering our lives up with too much stuff, too many obligations, going here, there everywhere and not taking enough time to just be. My son is teaching me how to just be. And not to care about matching napkins and tablecloths, or the dust bunnies under the beds.

I used to criticize my husband when he folded the cloth diapers wrong, or filled the bath with 1/2 cm too much water. This really put a strain on our relationship. I had to give up control, and god damn it--lower my standards. Things don't always have to be perfect. Once we stop being so hard on ourselves I think we'll lose a lot of that anger...

3:13 PM  
Blogger Avonlea said...

It seems to me that several issues can contribute to the anger. For situations where the mom stays at home, there is the anger about him walking out the door after a shower and getting to pee by himself and eat lunch with adults or alone, while she can't.

Then, in general, for WOHMs or WAHMs, there is the whole self-imposed vision of what a 'mom' does or should do - self-sacrifce and home-cooked meals and clean houses and running the household. Things based on what society has told us we should do.

For me, I think I have enough selfishness (or self-preservation) to know that I *need* to have alone time and down time. No, I don't cook every night. There may be piles of mail on my kitchen table and dustbunnies under the couch, but without my downtime or without enough sleep, I get angry.

3:59 PM  
Blogger Bianka said...

My hubby is a stay at home dad. He definitely picks up his share of parenting responsibilities, but what I get mad at him about is 'chores'. His idea and my idea of what needs to be done vary greatly. I believe that sweeping up Cheerios, throwing away cheese wrappers, placing cups in the sink, etc. etc. etc. should be done as you walk by them or as they are used. HE on the other hand believes that it should all be left alone until the end of the day and done all at once. THIS DRIVES ME ABSOLUTELY CRAZY.

5:26 AM  
Blogger ChefSara said...

I agree with the poster who said she feels jealousy more than anger. My husband is fabulous. He realizes that what I do as a SAHM is hard work (perhaps because as a grad student, he works from home sometimes and sees how much I do). Every night, he says "Thank you Baby" when I serve dinner, and takes care of the baby when he gets home. He stays with the baby once a week while I take the dog to agility, no questions asked. And he tells me on a regular basis what a great mom I am. So how can I be angry at him? But I am jealous...that he regularly sleeps til 8:30 or 9, while the baby is up at 7:30 every day; that he didn't have to get up for the middle of the night feedings, since i was breast feeding; that he can leave the house without wondering if he remembered the diaper bag, extra burp cloth, etc. But I *chose* to be a SAHM mom, and as hard as it is, I wouldn't change it for anything. And I could not ask for a better husband or father. So, even though I am jealous, I'm not mad.

9:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yup, I`m angry. I have a 3 year old, a nearly 2 year old and work full time from home. I HATE that my husband goes out to get milk and doesn`t come back for three or four hours, because he doesn`t have to. I hate that he gets to go AWAY to work while I have to parent and work at the same time.

That being said, my husband lets me take naps and he does clean the house. But sometimes, I just want to get out without children and he freaks at the idea of looking after them both! To which I say, "HA! Try working AND looking after them!"

7:22 PM  
Blogger Abby said...

I'm so glad I'm not the only one who's eternally pissed all the time. It's so comforting to see it's 50% normal. Sort of. I feel absolute rage at the husband. And mostly it's because he thinks I'm on vacation every day because I get to stay home all day. "Get to" being the magic words there. He complains about being beat after four days of work so he NEEDS that three-day weekend all to himself to catch up and rejuvinate. Excuse me? I don't get evenings off, or weekends, or holidays, or sick days, or any other kinda damn day off. EVER. I empathize with the lady who said she has to beg her husband just to watch the kids for one lousy hour a week so she can go to a class. Same thing here, except I actually have to give a good enough reason--good enough to counter his whining--so I can actually go. Mind you, this is after he's said a billion times that if I need a break from the kids, why, just ask! I'll be there for you, honey! But when it actually comes to the asking, he rolls his eyes and sighs like I'm asking him to donate a kidney. Be a damn man for crap's sake. I love you, but you're pissing me off with these melodramatic acts you're putting on just to get out of watching your own damn children for more than the five minutes you see them in the morning before you saunter off to work. At a job, mind you, that I used to do myself and I KNOW it's not half as hard as what I do now. And yet he acts as if he's the one who has it the hardest in this family and why can't I just give him a break? I'll tell you why I can't just give you a break; you helped make 'em, you can help take care of them. No more excuses, I've had it with them. No, I don't feel bad for being pissed at him. Because he doesn't do the best he can. He makes promises and breaks them when push comes to shove. Screw that. I'm justifiably mad.

6:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm not mad. Anymore. My husband and I instituted a "no drudgery" rule. We don't keep track. He bought Valentines this year. I stopped griping about cleaning the house. He started cooking healthy food. He knows her feet are size 10 1/2.

I'm not sure how it happened, except to say we almost split up last year, and maybe the alternative looked a lot worse.

12:20 PM  
Blogger Mommy boog said...

OMG...you do not realize how on point this is in my life right now. I feel very angry with the hub most of the time, and blown that he does not have the same mental log I do of all the stuff that needs to be done. This was so validating that its not just me!

1:45 PM  
Blogger Jill said...

Suzanne Sommers was on Oprah talking about pre-menopausal women and how they walk around seething all the time.

I thought, "I seethe. I seethe a lot. Seems like 30 is early for menopause, but, what the f, there has to be some reason I am grinding my teeth all the time."

I want to stay home with the babe, so I'll pull the "I work full time AND..." fill in all the shoe size, bill pay, dog groomer tasks as well.

Poor him. You are so right. Not his fault though I don't think it would kill a brother to remove 1 rotten thing from the fridge during 1 of the 27 times he opens it during the day.

6:05 PM  
Blogger Chent said...

Well, a very sad post for me. Thank you for remembering that marrying is a losing proposition for men.

In my experience, it's the woman in the relationship who wants the baby and then pressures the man to have him. And then, she feels rage at him, even if he is working to pay a stay-at-home mother, so there is a division of labor. Isn´t this insane?

What about thinking that a baby is a MAJOR job instead of dreaming of a fairy tale? What about not having a kid if you don't want to make a huge sacrifice?

What about the man being angry at the woman to pressure him to be parent and to make him work more to allow her to take care of the baby? Wait, no, I forgot that men are adults and rational creatures. I forgot that they understand that life is hard and don't blame others on the consequences of their own decisions. Too much to ask for women who feel entitled to be angry without rational reason.

It's better not to get married and not to have kids. With the divorce rate in 50% (70% of divorces initiated by the women) and men losing their assets and their children in family court even so. I knew that.

But makes me sad that women are never satisfied, even with a loving husband, even with a man who has given up all his bachelor life to be with her, who works to support a mother to take care of his child, who want to his child to be cared for by his mother. There are good men out there but less and less because they are awakening to the fact that no matter they do, it will never be enough.

For women it's never enough. There is always a reason to complain and to feel like a victim. To be angry. Men get married to have love and peace and what they get: a woman who is angry at them without reason.

Single moms do not have anyone to be angry at. So they can be free of these bastards called husbands. Please be a single mom and you will not have anything to complain.

2:56 AM  

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