When Your Spouse Is a Sideline Parent

She stood at the kitchen sink, hands covered in foaming water washing dishes from dinner with tears rolling down her cheeks. Her toddler was grasping at her leg, whining for a drink while the television blared in the background. She placed the dish back into the sink, rinsed the soap off her withered hands,  and wiped them dry on her pants. She bent down and whisked her toddler, onto her hip to calm her cries. As she went towards the refrigerator door, her husband calls out for a drink.

She reached inside to grab a sippy cup and a bottle of water. The noise of the television was overwhelmingly loud as she walked to the couch and sat her daughter beside her husband. The dog began to bark as a car passed by the window, and its headlight appeared upon the walls. Her husband turned the volume up. She went back into the kitchen to finish cleaning. But, all her energy was gone. The thought of rinsing another dish covered in crumbs sent panic throughout her body. She felt alone in a household full of family.

He is oblivious to her and the children’s needs. She’s aware that he has a full-time job and deserves a moment to destress from his day. But what about her? Is she not deserving of a moment of peace that lasts longer than a shower? She’s frustrated but afraid to speak her mind. She’s at home with her kids. It’s a lifestyle that she decided. Yet, she didn’t know that she would always be the primary caregiver.  And, why is it her responsibility to ask him to help?  For her, it’s just another mental task that’s added to her list.

It is her responsibility to tend to all the housework. She cooks and cleans all of the meals. Every morning, she wakes up to get the kids ready for school. She prepares them breakfast and packs their lunch. The bills are paid by her. She entertains the children, takes them on walks outsides, trips to the park, and sits on the floor to play board games. Every doctor’s appointment, school function, and sports event is organized and attended by her.  At night, she helps with homework while cooking dinner. After everyone has eaten, she cleans the kitchen and sends the kids to the bath. At bedtime, it is her that reminds them to brush their teeth and reads a bedtime story.  As the evening ends, she rounds up all the dirty laundry and places them into the hampers. Exhausted that her day never seems to end, she looks to see her husband snoring on the couch.

This mother doesn’t mind that she is the sole provider for her children during the day.  Her worth is depleted with every task that multiplies. Her ability to love is fading. And she is breaking.  But, when her husband is home, she yearns for his help. Parenting is a partnership, and it can be challenging to find the harmonies balance. But, every parent must play a vital role in raising their child. It is unfair that while both parents are busy with their jobs during the day, only one is allowed to rest in the evening. Husbands, take note, and initiative.

When you have worked a hard day at work, you can come home to rest. Whereas, your wife may work where she lives or has also put in a hard days work at her job. Allow her to find solace from her day. Give her a moment to unwind with an uninterrupted shower where she can listen to music and put on a face mask. Clean the kitchen after she cooks dinner.  Put the laundry away after she’s folded it. Show your children that fathers participate. Help them with homework. Put a puzzle together or draw pictures. Read the bedtime story and remind them to brush their teeth.

Don’t be a sideline parent. The parent that never takes the initiative without being asked. Your wife and family deserve a present parent. The gesture doesn’t have to be grand. It’s the simple acts of kindest that radiate love and support. But by being a supportive foundation, it allows for the relationship to grow and flourish. Be present.

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