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Mom Returning To Work Is Told By Aspiring Author Husband That She's 'Cruel' For Leaving Him At Home With Baby

Photo: Sarah Chai / Pexels
Mom holding baby while working on computer

A mom wrote to Reddit seeking advice on a conflict she had with her husband about her decision to return to work after her maternity leave.

She explained on the "r/parenting" subreddit that they initially agreed that while she worked at her job in the tech industry, he would be the stay-at-home-parent, as he writes from home, full-time. Yet it soon became clear that her husband wasn’t committed to their established plan.

The woman explained that her husband called her ‘cruel’ for leaving him home to care for their baby while she went back to work.

In her post, the mom gave context for her and her husband’s professional and financial situation. She negotiated a full year of maternity leave with her employer, with the understanding that after a month of “completely uninterrupted time” with her baby, she took on certain work tasks at home, on her own schedule, making up about 15 hours of work a week.

“My husband writes at home so we decided that he would be the stay-at-home parent and when I was working he would care for our baby,” she explained. “It was a pretty good arrangement, I thought.” 

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After a month of that particular set-up, the woman said her husband “would start ignoring the baby crying, or claiming that the baby wanted me… It started to interfere with my deal with my boss.”

The mom set a clear boundary with her husband, telling him “in no uncertain terms that if he kept interrupting me while I was working I would hire a nanny for help, but take the funds out of our fun budget… that pays for dinners out, vacations, and hobbies. He got the point and I got my one to two hours of uninterrupted time every day.”

Photo: Anastasia Shuraeva / Pexels

As the mom’s year of maternity leave came to an end, her “very accommodating” employers were so impressed with her contributions to the team during her year of leave that they offered her a choice of working from home, working in the office, or a hybrid schedule. Her husband wanted her to work from home to help more with the baby, but she chose to return to the office.

She listed the various benefits of being in the office, saying, “I have access to a private room and a freezer so I can store milk. I am able to interact with my team and I enjoy the environment.”

Her husband responded to her going back to the office by calling her ‘cruel’ and telling her that the baby ‘needs her.’

She told him she would only work from home if he got a job to pay for a nanny, “so it didn’t affect our budget. He said it didn’t make sense.”

Then, she delineated her frustrations, saying, “He wants me to be the main breadwinner while he tries to get published, he wants to enjoy life in an expensive city, and he wants to stay home to write. Some of these desires are mutually exclusive without him stepping up and giving me time and space to earn a living.”

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At a family gathering, her husband complained to his mother about her “choosing to leave him at home with the baby and returning to work.” Her mother-in-law criticized her decision. Her father-in-law “spoke up and reminded her that when my husband was born she was a stay-at-home mom and housewife. He said that was what my husband signed up for if he didn't want a job.”

The argument grew bigger until the husband exclaimed he felt “emasculated,” leading the mom to feel “like an a–-hole abandoning him and our baby.”

The people who commented on the post were in unanimous agreement on one thing — the mom wasn’t acting like an a-–hole, nor was she abandoning her family. As one person noted, “You haven't abandoned your baby, you've expected the other parent to actually parent your baby. Do you consider it abandonment when he expects you to parent the baby?”

Someone else offered the husband some slight grace, saying, “Maybe the original agreement isn't working out how he expected. Babies are a lot more work than what people that haven't had kids usually think.”

They suggested that “maybe the agreement needs some renegotiation. But you working from home to both work full-time and parent full-time is not it, and it's pretty ridiculous that he thinks you can do both simultaneously.” 

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Photo: Karolina Grabowska / Pexels

Another woman commented from their own experience as both a stay-at-home parent and a writer, saying “Working around a day job (in this case stay-at-home-dad), is what writers do. In my case, I wrote during naps, after the kids were asleep… Your husband is being unreasonable. He needs to accept that [being a] stay-at-home-dad is the full-time job, and the writing is essentially moonlighting.”

A different person commented on the husband’s sense of feeling emasculated as “toxic masculinity — feeling emasculated because your wife earns more and because you won’t want to be a stay-at-home parent.”

Among the many valid points people made, one had to do with the fact that if the gender roles were reversed, and her husband had decided to return to an office, his decision wouldn’t be framed as selfish, mean, or as abandoning his family. It appears that the mom and her husband are at a crossroads, confronted with a need to reassess their family dynamics and scheduling. Yet maintaining a household, making an income, and doing the labor of parenting are tasks that both halves of a couple must bear, in some equitable form. 

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Alexandra Blogier is a writer on YourTango's news and entertainment team. She covers parenting issues, pop culture analysis and all things to do with the entertainment industry.