Particularly since 2020, we’ve all been challenged to figure out our personal work-life balances.
Many of us have also had to figure out how to incorporate work into our homes, like Zoom calls, pointed out the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit, which doesn’t always mesh well with our families.
Redditor Throwaway_Husband0 struggled to compromise with his husband when one needed to be on an important Zoom call and the other really needed to get some rest.
When his husband became furious with him, the Original Poster (OP) wondered if he could have handled the situation differently.
He asked the sub:
“AITA for not holding my daughter so my husband could nap?”
The OP and his husband’s responsibilities at home were not equal.
“I (36 Male) am a professor at a local university. I love my job, but the amount of classes I teach makes it very demanding.”
“We are decently wealthy due to stock investments, so my husband (also 36 Male) stays home with our daughter, who was born six months ago via surrogate.”
“My husband wanted to be a stay-at-home husband and father.”
“He does the majority of the housework, and I admit, I could definitely pitch in more when it comes to cooking, cleaning, laundry, etc.”
“When it comes to our daughter, however, I consider myself to be very attentive and when I’m home before her bedtime, I put her to bed, play with her, feed her, etc.”
The impact of these imbalanced responsibilities came to a head one night.
“This evening when I came home, I informed my husband I had an important presentation I was doing to be able to get a research grant for work.”
“He was frazzled when I came home, and seemed pretty exhausted, and our daughter was crying.”
“I held her for about ten minutes while he was able to shower and get changed, and she calmed down considerably in that time.”
“However, when he came back downstairs and I tried to hand her off to attend my Zoom meeting, my husband wouldn’t take her.”
This turned into an argument.
“He said she had relaxed with me quickly and he wanted to go and sleep too, so he could catch up now that I was home and she had calmed down.”
“I told him I had an important meeting in approximately 10 minutes, and I wouldn’t be able to hold her during the meeting.”
“I needed full mobility to present and type, and I didn’t want to wake her.”
“He exploded on me, saying I do nothing around the house, and he’s exhausted all the time.”
“I told him we can talk about the distribution of labor later, but that right now, I needed to go to my meeting and he couldn’t sleep.”
“I handed him back our daughter after a little more arguing and went to my meeting.”
“When I came out, now he won’t speak to me.”
“AITA for refusing to hold my daughter until after the meeting?”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some immediately questioned the OP because of his husband’s condition.
“YTA, your husband is going to burn out and you seem to think a 10-minute break for a shower is doing enough?”
“It’s 2022, not a single person in the world is going to blink about a baby in a Zoom meeting. Make time, quickly, or you will lose them both.” – Secret_Werewolf1942
“I have been in plenty of academic and business meetings, moderated some, did language interpretation in some, and it’d be by far not the first child I see in one.”
“Unless they are absolute supreme a**holes, which I admit do exist in the academy, they will not make a fuss about it. On the contrary.” – retired-penguin
“The OP is full of insistence he is so busy, but he has no idea what it’s like to only get a 10 minute break in 24 hours.”
“This isn’t just about the meeting – not helping with cleaning and cooking and laundry all affects him, is all a giant burden he is carrying while taking care of an infant. All of that is a part of parenting, and cuddling the baby when you get home doesn’t make up for dumping everything else on him.” – Music_withRocks_In
“I liked the, ‘When I’m home, I’m very attentive’ energy with a thrown in, ‘If I’m home before she’s asleep.’ So STAD gets no breaks many nights and no support.” – msharek
“My husband helps clean and was the cook for the first 7 months of my baby’s life. I have just started cooking again since my baby got into solids.”
“Distribution of labor is SO important for a functioning relationship and the mental health of both partners involved. Mine is incredibly attentive and helpful, and I still felt like I was drowning, especially when she was six months old because she never slept more than two hours at a time.”
“I feel so bad for the stay at home parent. OP needs a reality check and SAHP should go get a hotel for three days, so they can see the difficulty of being home all day with the baby.” – AdIntelligent8613
But others recognized how important a call about a research grant would be.
“What planet are you living on? [He] is trying to get a research grant.”
“They are not going to think, ‘Awww how cute.’ They are going to think that this [man] has no work/life balance and [his] work will be affected by the baby.” – Decent_Bandicoot122
“This is a presentation for a research grant. Of course he can’t show up with a baby.”
“This is not some committee meeting where he’s supposed to just be a muted square for most of the conversation – this is a presentation he gives to his colleagues after which they will decide whether to give him money or not.”
“It’s not just a meeting, if anything it’s closer to a job interview, as their family’s income depends on it. It is absolutely not safe to assume that people would be okay with him showing up with a baby, academia doesn’t work this way.”
“People saying that all he would get is ‘aww’ from some people are dead wrong. But even if he knew for sure that all people in positions of power in academia are fine with babies, it’s still crazy to give a research grant presentation with a baby in your hands.”
“Also, babies cry. They don’t just stay silent while dad is giving an hour long lecture to people on zoom, even if those people decide whether dad gets paid or not.” – MemChoeret
“As a PhD student, I agree. I’ve heard people argue about whether they could give a professorship to somebody who took a year of parental leave during their post-doc.”
“Academia, especially when older, male professors are involved (and they will be), is often super conservative, and a child during a research grant presentation is a no-go.”
“The grant application would very likely be rejected just on the basis of the child being there. It will give the impression of poor time management skills, because if OP can’t even manage to have two child-less hours for one of the most important meetings in his academic year, how will he fulfill the terms of the grant.”
“Heck, I like children, and I would find this unprofessional. He might be able to get away with this during a lecture or a routine meeting, but never in a grant hearing. People who think otherwise have probably never worked in academia.” – DasFischli
“I work in an environment where if I have one of my kiddos on my lap in a meeting, it’s not a big deal. But it’s a huge deal when I’m presenting, because I can’t stop to address what a child is doing. It’s happened to me during the pandemic!”
“The child is going to move around or cry, and I can’t respond to them. I also lose my train of thought as I am literally speaking to a group of 30 to 50 people. It becomes awkward and intensely frustrating. And even if they’re understanding, it’s still a problem.”
“Doing it while requesting a research grant in the academia environment, I think that it’s outrageous to think that that’s okay.”
“And because they had specifically said in advance that they would not be able to take the kiddo during this meeting, the partner is the AH.”
“In the grander scheme of things, sure we work out the division of labor, but not like this.” – nariko-sedai
“100% agree, NTA. I am SAHM of 3… you do what you need to do, within reason (this is 100% reasonable) to support the paycheck.”
“That’s it. You’re supporting the paycheck. So you can.. you know, live and stuff.”
“And while their investments might be doing well now, that s**t can turn in a blink of an eye, and OP’s job is going to be that more important.”
“This isn’t a Zoom call with students. This is 100% professional.”
“OP, next time, stay at school to conduct a meeting like this. SAHD will work it out.”
“FYI, I had 2 kids 21 months apart… I always showered. Get a bouncy seat for the bathroom. There are ways to safely secure a baby while you shower. They may cry, but crying is normal and won’t hurt a well cared for a healthy baby.” – AlbatrossSenior7101
“I used to work full time from home with two kids at home with me. I was constantly on zoom meetings with my kids.”
“I used to be a campaign manager for a US Senate race and would bring my daughter to campaign events.”
“Now I’m a stay at home mom again.”
“My husband works from home. He often keeps our toddler in with him for small chunks of time during the day so I can take a break or a shower.
“He’s even kept her for hours while he worked so I could lay down on days I didn’t feel good.”
“Being a stay at home parent is the HARDEST MOST EXHAUSTING AND DRAINING job I’ve ever had in my entire life.”
“I used to work 60-80 hour weeks when I saw single with no kids and this is still harder. I’m constantly on the verge of burnout.”
“Luckily I have a partner who understands that and works hard to support me.” – nattatalie
“You absolutely do need to have that conversation about sharing household and parenting duties like TODAY, friend. Don’t delay it unnecessarily.”
“Your husband is probably right now feeling doubt that you will reopen the conversation and listen, so make it an actual priority.”
“I don’t blame your husband for losing it because fried is fried. A fried person has no inner resources left at all—been there, done that, much of my twins’ first year is kind of a fog, with occasional moments I can recall clearly.”
“I was in undergrad at the time and the only prof who got it was the one who was kind when separation anxiety made for problems at daycare dropoff. However, you couldn’t really take the sleeping baby into a meeting where you would have to be active.”
“Unfortunately, for all the terrific workmates and bosses who are compassionate and respectful when they see a colleague parenting on Zoom, there are lots of others who later send little emails about time management and employee responsibility for finding appropriate childcare.”
“It’s a sucky reality and only you know what it takes to navigate with your particular bosses. And some kinds of work, like presentations, aren’t compatible with having a baby sleep on you.”
“So Not The AH for pointing out that you genuinely couldn’t be the duty parent right at that moment, with a scheduled presentation to give and 10 minutes’ notice.”
“But you will be the AH if you don’t immediately come back to the table, ask what your husband needs to feel like a functional parent, and get going on solutions.” – Amiedeslivres
While the subReddit could appreciate that the distribution of labor in the OP’s household was in no way equal, they were otherwise divided on how to handle the Zoom call situation.
On the one hand, the OP needed to take the meeting to be able to provide for his family, and having a baby in attendance likely would not have given the impression he needed to earn the grant.
But on the other hand, his partner was struggling, and if the couple is unable to sort their responsibilities into reasonably similar lists, they might have other problems on the horizon that have very little to do with money.