You hear about unequal partnerships after kids or moms taking on the heavier load while dads seemingly do less. But in my case (fortunately enough) it has been different. My husband’s help with household chores after the birth of our son was his own decision. I didn’t have to twist his arm. I didn’t harbor unspoken feelings of resentment. I couldn’t complain that he did nothing while I did everything—because he shared the load with me. Matter of fact, he downright took over the housework—from cleaning to cooking to maintaining the yard. And he did so without complaint.

In our case, it wasn’t expected to be this way. I had three months of maternity leave—he had two weeks. So while he went back to working a full-time job and eventually adding on a part-time one and enrolling in school, I stayed home with our son. And after the end of my maternity leave, I transitioned from a full-time job to a part-time remote one.

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In society's eyes, I’m a working stay-at-home-mom with ample time on my hands to tend to the housework and childcare. I should have dinner hot and ready every night, the house should be clean, our child should always be tended to, and I should greet my husband at the door with a kiss upon his arrival home from work. But trust me—as much as I may try to do all these things, it just doesn't always happen.

In society’s eyes, I’m a woman who should be able to do it all. But I can't.

This belief has contributed to the burnout in mothers across the globe. In Motherly’s 2022 State of Motherhood survey, data shows that 40% of moms say more help would increase their positive feelings about motherhood. But are mothers really receiving more help without having to lose so much of themselves before the olive branch is extended?

We as women tell ourselves that we can do it all—not because we actually can, but because society forces us to believe that we must.

The reality is this: Parenting is a load that should be shared—no matter how you cut the cake. 

And in a society where many women have partners who don’t contribute to the housework or childcare, I am thankful to have one who does help with household chores—amongst many other things.

Related: Your burnout is not your fault

Even though I work from home and have more time on my hands to contribute to the maintenance of our household than he does, I also have no time at all. Because I’m busy tending to our son, running errands, grocery shopping, running a side business, scheduling appointments, worrying about dinner for the week and trying to maintain myself at the same time. 

I remember one evening when my husband came home from work and asked how my day was. My response was very short and dry. It must have been the tone in my voice because my husband asked, “Do you feel defeated?”

And I did. 

The house was a mess, our son was cranky and fighting his sleep, I was trying to multitask and make dinner and schedule swim lessons—and on top of that, I had so many other things on my to-do list that I felt needed to get done. I didn't have it all together, and I felt defeated because I believed that I should.

We as women tell ourselves that we can do it all—not because we actually can, but because society forces us to believe that we must.

But the words that my husband said to me that day made me realize that I was never meant to do it alone.

“I didn’t marry you for you to have to do it all. Capitalize on your strengths rather than harping on your weaknesses. And allow me to help out and do what I do best. That’s how we balance each other.”

And it is. We balance each other by helping each other out. By picking up the other's slack and knowing that some days, one of us may only have a mere 30% to give, which puts the remaining 70% on the other. But that's how we work together.

Where one of us is weak, the other is strong.

He noticed the weight of the load and offered to share it with me. And our marriage is stronger because of it. 

There are surely days when he carries most of the weight. And there are surely days when I carry most of it. But most times, we try to meet in the middle and make sure that the load is not a burden to either one of us. That’s the thing about our partnership. Where one of us falls short, the other one is there to provide a lift. Where one of us is weak, the other is strong. And that’s how we continue forward.

My husband noticed that the housework was one thing that he could easily dedicate his time to (in the thick of those initial postpartum months and even now), given the fact that he works late nights and our son is usually getting ready for bed by the time he gets home. 

Related: Mama, you were never meant to do it all

Throughout the week, we both recognize that he doesn’t have much time to help out with the majority of childcare, but he makes that up by taking the housework off of my hands. And over the weekends when he has time off, he’s more of a help with childcare and letting me get some much-needed “me” time.

In a culture where women are known for carrying most of the weight, especially after kids, I am fortunate to have a husband who does not allow me to carry it alone.

I understand that not everyone is fortunate to have partners who willingly offer their help. This is not to spark more resentment from moms who experience unequal partnerships. It isn't to spark a debate about dividing household chores. It isn't to make a mom guilty that even her husband helping with chores still may not feel like enough.

But it is to bring some awareness to the fact that partnerships, where both parties balance each other out, can go a long way. In the words of Sarah MacLean, “The best partnerships aren't dependent on a mere common goal but on a shared path of equality, desire, and no small amount of passion.”

METHODOLOGY STATEMENT

Motherly designed and administered this survey through Motherly’s subscribers list, social media and partner channels, resulting in more than 17,000 responses creating a clean, unweighted base of 10,001 responses. This report focuses on the Gen X cohort of 1197 respondents, millennial cohort of 8,558 respondents, and a Gen Z cohort of 246 respondents. Edge Research weighted the data to reflect the racial and ethnic composition of the US female millennial cohort based on US Census data.