Every story about a marriage has at least two sides, and that’s one thing I like to keep in mind when we hate-read Reddit’s AmItheAsshole forum. Today’s troubling rant comes from a father who believes his wife has stopped putting her children’s needs before her own. As a mother, I’m definitely seeing this story differently from the hundreds of readers who have this guy’s back.
“When our kids were born, my wife was a very attentive mother,” writes a dad calling himself SwitchMelrose. “Now that they’re older and slightly more independent (4 and 6) it’s as though she’s reordered her priorities to back before we had kids.”
The examples he gives are that she has on occasion ordered spicy food for takeout, with no options for the kids who don’t like it. The mom also sent their daughter to day camp three hours early so that she could take a yoga class.
“My six year old had to sit in an office with no campers or camp activities, just a secretary who didn’t know what to do with this very early kid,” SwitchMelrose said. “Again, when confronted she said, ‘Someone was watching her. I called and they said it was ok. Why should I miss my class if they could take her?’ “
Finally, he said that when the kids were fighting one day and one fell and hit their head, “She waited to console them until after she had finished her paperwork, even though it had no deadline or anything.”
This father, who said he works from home and is in charge of most childcare, asked the forum if he was the asshole for telling his wife that the children’s needs should come first.
At first glance, you might agree with the majority of Redditors who said “NTA” (not the asshole). Of course, parents should pay attention to their children, provide them food, and comfort them when they’re hurt. Some even suggested that there was something wrong with the mother — with explanations ranging from depression and regret over having kids to speculation that she’s having an affair.
But hold on a second. I think there are plenty of holes in this story.
1) What’s this dad doing during mealtime that he can’t cook them or order them a nonspicy dinner?
2) Why didn’t he take the daughter to day camp, if the mom needed to do some self-care before her work day?
3) Many camps offer early drop-off. If the camp offered this, but neglected to tell the mom that their daughter would have nothing to do for that time, is that her fault?
4) Again, where was the dad when the kid hit their head? Do we know if the mom had been warning them not to fight? Was the injury serious or was the kid just whining to get her attention?
Parental burnout is real, and sometimes moms actually do need to put themselves first, otherwise they’ll have nothing left to give their children. Thankfully, I’m not the only one who thinks this.
“I think rather than focusing on the symptoms (not putting her kids first), [SwitchMelrose] should try and talk to her about what the underlying issues might be,” Oblivinatior advised.
“Why/how is he just a spectator in all this but he also works from home and does most of the childcare?” Sheess9141 asked.
“I felt like the whole post was super one sided, too,” Bibbitybobbityboop wrote. “If he’s concerned about a meal, cook one. If their child needs consoling, do it. It sounds like she’s expected to do everything. Maybe that’s not the case, but there was no explanation of what he is also doing to ensure she gets her alone time, too. Maybe she was more attentive, he took advantage of that, and she’s trying to get him to step up. No idea, but I can’t judge her on that.”
My favorite response is from Peterbiltbaby00: “Doesn’t she know part of motherhood is cutting off your tongue as to be never again tempted by devilish spicy flavors, and eyelids so you’ll never miss an opportunity to console a weepy baby??? Parenting is all about serving the every whim of your child and spouse, and woe be unto the woman who forgets it.”
Longing to escape the family? Maybe one of these self-care retreats is right for you.