I’m sitting behind this couple on the plane-they’re probably in their early thirties; she’s got a rather large baby bump and is wrestling with a very fidgety, unhappy toddler around two years old. The toddler is quite audibly, based on his frantic shrieking, highly agitated- and the mom looks utterly exhausted, stressed oh and did I mention she was pregnant. This toddler is quite literally sitting on her head- pulling her hair out- and the husband is not even ATTEMPTING to quiet or extricate the kid who appears to be jumping on her swollen belly.
And why is her husband– who is sitting right beside her not helping because he is SLEEPING. Yes SLEEPING. I swear if I had a frying pan (albeit I’m on a plane and don’t usually carry one with me) I’d whack him over the head with it. How could he not hear this wailing, flailing little guy seated right beside him who is clearly not able to be pacified by his mother’s feeble attempts.
It’s a dynamic I don’t really understand- and yet I’ve seen so many couples-especially those on airplanes- where the childcare responsibilities- i.e.- the person designated to shut the crying baby the heck up- falls squarely on the shoulders of the mom. But I know not all marriages are like this including mine. Maybe it’s because when my husband finally had kids he was just so eager to have them (being an older dad) that he really did jump in with both feet when it came to every aspect of childcare. Which is kind of really interesting considering he was over forty before he had EVER changed a diaper and yet the role of fatherhood has always been such a natural almost second natured fit for him.
I remember being on a plane with my seven month old son- and after we’d exhausted every possible tip and trick we could conceive in our seats- he was the one- who took the baby and walked up and down the aisles with him. Don’t get me wrong- I haven’t yet nominated him for sainthood- he needs a lot of work to do when it comes to learning how to empathize with our daughter (and decipher her emotionally fueled dramas) and understand her actions are mostly based on her need to express what feels frustrating which (I will school her in once she is legal) at 39 years old is called enjoying a glass of chardonnay.
But maybe it’s just me- perhaps that’s their agreement- she has and takes care of the kids and he sleeps through the madness. I am really trying very hard not to smack him in the head or accidentally wake him up.