DEAR AMY: When my husband and I married about 10 years ago, we were both ambivalent about having children. My husband is a kind, generous man. I’ve gradually come around to wanting kids. I’m 40 now, so it’s approaching “now or never” time for me. My husband says he’s willing to have babies, if that’s what I really want. But here’s the kicker; he’s willing to do things like teach the kid to throw a football or take them to Disneyland, but says he won’t do things like wake up in the middle of the night to feed a baby, change diapers, do extra laundry, etc. So, basically, I’d be doing all the dirty work, while he would just get to swoop in and have fun with the kid when it suits him. I picture myself being exhausted and frustrated with this scenario, but it’s the only one in which I save my marriage and also have children. I already feel resentful of him being “the good guy” in a child’s eyes, while I’m the boring nag. Should I go ahead with a baby and hope he’ll get on board once we’re in the thick of it, or should I accept that this is a recipe for disaster?
DEAR WORRIED: The scenario you describe: one parent doing the “dirty work” while the other parent swoops in for the fun stuff, is basically the unarticulated, unbalanced arrangement that many parents have. But most parents don’t declare their intention to behave this way ahead of time. It just works out that way.
This is not necessarily a recipe for disaster, but it is a lonely road for a parent who is also in a marriage.
If you decide to have a baby, you should assume you will be on your own. Either you will be on your own with a husband napping on the couch, or you will be on your own because your marriage won’t survive this stress and resentment.
What you don’t realize is this: Caretaking, nurturing and actual hands-on active parenting — that middle-of-the-night stuff you refer to — forms the foundation of connection between parents and children. It is very hard work, but many parents (myself included) wouldn’t trade in many moments of tough, hands-on parenting. There is a glory and grace in taking care of another human being, and that is what your husband would be missing.
DEAR AMY: A few years ago I met a very intelligent, engaging woman at a social event. We soon struck up a friendship. One of many things that we had in common was that she had faced discrimination because she is African American, and I had faced my own challenges. Over the last year she was very upset about the presidential election. We were on opposite sides. I let it go. She has pressured me to buy products from her home-based business. I don’t use her products, so I never participated. She has vented about problems in her life, and when I have offered advice, she has been very condescending. She tends to drink and I think sometimes the liquor is talking. Lately she’s insisted that, if I really like her, I need to do things such as read certain books on black history, etc. I really like this person, but I feel that I now have to “buy into” our friendship. All I ask of people I care for is mutual respect and open dialogue. Have I lost a friend?
DEAR WONDERING: True friends don’t “make” each other do things. They don’t force their friends to buy certain products or read specific books.
However, the flip side of this is also true. Sometimes friends purchase things they might not want or need in order to be supportive and participatory. And a friend seeking to gain insight about what her pal is thinking and feeling might voluntarily pick up a book reflecting the friend’s point of view or struggle.
It is obvious that you see this friendship as one-sided. This person seems to be demanding that you prove your friendship bona-fides. Maybe the open dialogue can start with you.
DEAR AMY: Responding to “M,” the thin woman who was “skinny shamed” by strangers, I correct people by referring to myself as “fit.”
Fit and Healthy
DEAR FIT: People of all sizes can accurately describe themselves as “fit.” Thank you for the suggestion.