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This Dad Agreed to Be Primary Caregiver & Is Backing Out Now That It’s Hard

It’s the 21st century, and we’re pretty sure everyone reading this agrees that in two-parent households, both parents should share the at least some responsibility for caring for their child. And we definitely don’t think it’s the sole job of moms to take care of a newborn — even if she’s breastfeeding. But would it be OK if the roles were reversed entirely, and the dad in a hetero relationship was the sole caretaker of the child?

“My husband really wanted kids; I like kids and sort of wanted them, but I hate the work associated with babies,” husbandbrokedeal wrote on Reddit’s AmItheAsshole forum this week. “I would rather work an 18 hour shift than change a diaper and clean up vomit. So I made him agree before we got married if we have kids, he’ll stay at home and do all of the nights and cleaning up.”

This may sound like a good compromise — and we’re completely in favor of stay-at-home dad arrangements. But as any of us who are married and have kids (or, hell, even just a pet) knows, that’s not an easy plan to stick to. It’s nearly impossible for just one person to take care of an infant day and night. Some amazing single parents manage to do it, but at a high personal cost. Considering babies’ need for care at all hours of the day and night, things really work best if both parents pitch in, at least a little bit.

This couple’s plan was going to be difficult in any normal circumstances, but husbandbrokedeal’s complaint really begins now that she’s working from home during lockdown. She says her husband is sleeping in until noon unless she wakes him, and he doesn’t want to get up in the middle of the night when the baby cries. (Note: We have no idea how old this baby is, or whether she’s being sleep-trained.)

“And now he’s been asking during the day too,” she writes. “Can I just change her once, can I just clean this up, can I just hold her. In the middle of work, I’m doing my job and he comes in and interrupts me. It’s ridiculous that I have to put up with it when he specifically agreed to do it. I’ve been locking my office door during the day, and tonight he blew up at me saying that I have to help out since I’m home anyway.”

This post has me going back and forth between each side. I can’t imagine not getting up a single time in the night to feed or change the baby, deal or no deal, so I would take the husband’s side. But then I’m writing this from the comfort of my own locked bedroom as my husband takes care of my son. And there’s this sentence from the wife: “How is it fair that I have to work and harass him to take care of her?”

The burden of women having to do the mental labor of tasking their husbands with housework and childcare is certainly real, so we feel her there.

As these two parents fight it out, the person we’re really worried about is their daughter. Reddit agrees:

“YTA and start a therapy fund for your daughter,” sinderella53 wrote. “Sounds like she is going to need it.”

“ESH (everybody sucks here) — parenthood is not a CONTRACT; there are no deals,” LenaWillow134 wrote.

“You guys should not have had children,” DorothyZbornaksArmy replied. “Thinking that a child and everything they entail would always fall under the purview of one partner only, all the time, no matter what, was naive at best and disingenuous at worst.”

In the context of the many AITA posts we’ve seen featuring husbands who think their wives should do more childcare since they work “more” (see: video-game dad), there might be something to this theory revolverklc suggested: “It really makes me think this is a troll trying to prove something with a gender switch since many posts are about new dads not pulling their weight.”

If that’s the case, bravo to the troll. Raising a child is tougher than any other job, and the more people say this out loud, the more prepared couples will be to have tough conversations about how to handle the load.

Maybe this couple made their deal based on these unrealistic stock photos of moms working from home with kids.

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