Check in on your friends with little kids because we are not doing OK. We are tired, probably sick, definitely stressed right now — and our partners are paying for it. One tired mom on Reddit unleashed her frustrations on her partner, and it sparked a heartfelt conversation about taking a break from each other.
The OP wrote in the “Am I The A—hole?” subreddit that she is a full-time student, and her husband works full-time from home. Their two kids, ages 2 and 4, go to childcare centers during the day. But right now, she is in the middle of an intense project, and her and her husband are both burned out.
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“I’m currently on the third day of a 10 day ‘hackathon’/product sprint that’s cognitively and creatively intense. It’s all day (10 am to 7 or 8 pm) with almost no breaks in between design sessions or client meetings,” she wrote. “I’ve tried to help with child care as much as I can (e.g., dropping the kids off, helping to get them ready for the next day), but it’s been challenging to be an equal co-parent. While I wasn’t prepared for how late I’d be getting home, we knew things would be lopsided for a minute.”
That’s so hard. When one parent is working extra hours, it’s so exhausting on the other, so it makes sense why a fight was brewing between the couple. “Last night wrapped up at 8:30 pm. I was exhausted,” the mom continued. “My team had basically spent the latter five hours of the day debating and deliberating with our client. All I wanted to do was see my husband and relax. When I came home, the apartment looked like a bomb had gone off. Clothes and toys everywhere, dishes from breakfast (and now dinner) piled in the sink, trash can overflowing, etc.”
She continued, “I learned that the expectation was that I should clean up the apartment since he had been with the kids for the past three hours. I told him it felt unfair for that responsibility to fall solely on me, especially since he was home all day. Yes, he was working, but he could take time to wash the dishes.”
It sounds like she got home in a bad mood — the first thing she noticed was that the house was a mess? I mean, c’mon. At least he kept the kids happy and alive, right? I know men are notorious for only doing the bare minimum, but I would be upset if my husband came home and complained about the dishes when I was wrangling his kids all night.
To be fair, he should be helping, so he’s definitely not an innocent victim here. Put the kids to bed, pour the wine, and knock out those dishes together, baby!
“Frustrated, he asked why I hadn’t even thanked him for taking the kids, especially since he didn’t know when I would be home,” the mom wrote. “I told him (in an admittedly snarky way) that I shouldn’t have to thank him for parenting his own children. He took offense to this and accused me of being stuck in my own world. Pissed, I said that I didn’t understand why I’m supposed to express my gratitude every single time he does what he’s supposed to do. And we went on and on.”
Big yikes! It sounds like he wants a little appreciation for managing two toddlers, and she is over-worked and maybe looking for her own appreciation for how hard she’s working right now.
Look, you shouldn’t have to thank your partner for watching their own children; that’s called parenting. But though you also shouldn’t have to thank your husband for unloading the dishes when he noticed they were empty or your wife for cooking dinner for the kids, it feels nice if you do. It’s a simple show of gratitude, love, and appreciation — less a requirement and more an act of love. It’s saying, “Hey, I see you. I know how hard you work, and I’m glad that I get to do life by your side.”
This just feels good. Somewhere along the way of dividing childcare and household tasks (which is very necessary and important since both of these tasks have historically fallen disproportionately on women!), we’ve forgotten that basic kindness shouldn’t go away.
Redditors came through with a wisdom typically not seen on the internet.
“Hit the pause button,” one person said. “You two are both stressed — you with more school and him with more childcare. This sounds like a fight born out of stress and fatigue with everyone just lashing out.” This is actually very good advice. Everyone’s tired and stressed — it’s not a competition.
“Take a breather and tell him you want to talk about it when you’re both feeling calmer,” they continued. “Nobody’s really wrong but he needs to realize what stepping up while you’re busy means. And sometimes it will be you stepping up when he’s busy. This is how partnership works, not by keeping score but by acting as a team. And sometimes you thank the other person for doing something they should do anyway, just to keep the peace (but honestly I see why you didn’t if the house was such a mess). But NTA.” So true.
“I work remotely often as well, and there should be NO expectation that I am cleaning the house on a break,” someone else wrote. “I rarely take a break, but if I do it’s to eat or actually take a moment to myself because after work I have absolutely no alone or downtime once I pick up my son. It’s mentally draining. Ever since my partner started working 2nd shift, I am more irritable and more exhausted because I work all day and then am sole caregiver all night.”
They added, “Sometimes it’s easier or hard to get things done when kids are around, as I am sure you know. He’s probably just as exhausted by working all day, and then being alone with the kids at night. Walking through the door and immediately complaining about things that weren’t done is rude af – instead, I’d probably ask ‘How was your day?’ And probably assume it was a damn rough one.”
Exactly this. You both need compassion for each other, something that is admittedly hard to do when emotions are running high.
Someone else said there were no a-holes here. “This is just normal parent bickering,” they wrote. “You both could be nicer to each other but it’s a stressful time and understandable that tensions ran high. I don’t know that you have to thank him for taking care of the kids but you could appreciate the fact that he took care of the kids and worked and there wasn’t time to clean the house. He could appreciate how exhausted you are working so much this week.
The fact is that you both did things that you had to do which left you feeling exhausted at the end of the day. Nobody goofed off or lazed around. Nobody went and had drinks with buddies. Now you have two exhausted parents and chores needing to be done. It happens. Do what you can without heaping expectations on each other.”
I love this! It’s so hard being a parent, and if everyone is giving their best, why not show a little extra appreciation? Acknowledge that it’s hard, acknowledge that you’re grateful for your partner and vice versa. It’s a partnership. Parenting is not always easy, but it is better doing it with someone you love.
This mom seemed to take Reddit’s advice to heart, and she edited to add: “Genuinely appreciate the feedback and insights. We apologized to one another this morning and committed to communicate more than usual throughout this week.”
We love a happy ending! It seems like these two are actually trying to work it out and bump up their communication, which is always a good thing. And maybe someday soon you can spring for a babysitter and both take a night off — you deserve it.
Before you go, check out these wild stories about Reddit’s most horrific mother-in-laws.
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