Overcoming “He has no idea how much I do.”

I hear momcologists complain about their husbands often. I’m guilty too. The most common complaint: “he has no idea how much I do”. This is usually coupled with a feeling of intense burden in taking responsibility for all the care their child is receiving.

For most kids with medical challenges, 90% or more of the treatment plan will rest on the mom. Some of this is by our own design. I don’t know a single mother who doesn’t want to be sure their child is receiving the very best care. We fall into the control-freak trap pretty easily. We want to know all the details of what to expect and we usually end up shuttling our child to all the appointments and giving all the medication.

So we get in a pinch when we start to feel under appreciated for how much time we invest into our child’s care on top of feeling overwhelmed by the responsibility. Bitterness starts to creep in, followed by resentment. This is a yucky place to be in and over time will damage your relationship.

Please understand that men don’t usually sense this depth of complex emotion. Most of them think: “Wow, this cancer treatment is working out pretty well, things are ship-shape, my wife’s got it covered, no need to interfere.” It is not because they don’t care. It is usually because they don’t have a grasp of the scope. Dumping guilt trips or giving the cold shoulder is probably not going bring progress. So let’s create a plan for helping your husband understand.

  • Our treatment calendar & medication center is in the kitchen. I try to keep everything labeled and updated.

    The benefits of sharing the burden:
     Now I agree there is a very strong case to be made for one person having an eagle eye view of the treatment plan. Things will be less likely to fall through the cracks that way. However, this does not mean that same person must facilitate every single part of the treatment plan. If you want to be appreciated for what you do or receive help, then you must first start by creating awareness and delegating responsibility. This also becomes crucial if you are sick or otherwise unable to facilitate the treatment plan for a while. Someone else should be able to to pick up where you left off at any time.
  • Creating a visual treatment calendar: Print out monthly calendars for at least the next four months and tape them up on a wall together so that all four months can be seen at once. Divide each day in half (top & bottom).
    • In the top box for each day: Write in pencil all planned treatments given at the clinic even if you don’t have fixed appointments yet. For example: if you know your child will receive an IV medication on the 10th day of this phase of treatment, pencil it in now and add the appointment time later when you know it. This is your appointment calendar… things you have to leave the house to do.
    • In the bottom boxes: Pencil in any home care such as oral medications, supplements or hickman maintenance. Write all the basics that get taken for granted but are required for your child’s comfort, safety or treatment plan. This is your medication calendar. As things change, erase and update.
  • Creating a medication dosage chart: post next to your treatment calendar a detailed medication dosage list. List each medication or supplement separately and include: the amount given, when to give it and any notes or instructions. So if your daughter will only take her antibiotic in liquid form mixed with chocolate syrup, write that down. When a dosage changes, erase and update. You may need to print & fill out a new dosage chart for each phase of treatment.
  • Share it: When your treatment calendar & medication dosage charts are complete, ask your husband to go over them with you. Tell him that you will do your best to keep them updated. Make an agreement that if there is anything he is responsible for, you will but a big star next to it. Let him know that each day at dinner time you will try to remember to give him a treatment update of how the day went.
  • Using Cozy to share calendars: I believe the visual calendar is non-negotiable if you really want to see a difference in the level of awareness and reduction in resentment. You can go digital as an extra bonus. Some moms & dads love technology and need to carry the plan with them everywhere they go. If that’s you I highly recommend creating a Cozy family calendar for appointment reminders. Once you have any type of appointment scheduled for your child, add it to the calendar and you can set it to automatically remind everyone who is sharing the calendar.
  • Delegate things: Usually there will be one aspect of treatment that becomes a sticky spot for you. Maybe you have a very hard time coaching your child through it or it causes you an unusual amount of stress. Sticky spots are great to delegate. Help your husband to take ownership of one particular treatment or type of appointment. Schedule it to his personal calendar and allow yourself to let go of it. It’s amazing how kids will respond totally differently depending on whether mom or dad is present. You may be surprised to find that something extremely challenging for you ends up being a piece of cake for him. This does n0t make you a failure, it just means you have different specialties. Nobody can do it all and its good for your child to experience the support of both parents.

These are just some ideas to try. They may or may not work for your family, of course.

PS: What tricks have you found to share responsibility and reduce resentment in your marriage? I’d love to hear what works for you. Leave a comment!

About Emily

Hi, my name is Emily. I’m a wife, mother, christian, momcologist, doula, writer, nerd, entrepreneur and dreamer. I like Apple products, chocolate, books, lists, being pregnant and the color purple. I fancy myself as a quirky combination of dreamy Anne Shirley and feisty Scarlett O’Hara but in a schizophrenic sort of way. Read on...

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