Celeste Erlach just needed a little sleep.
The letter and its plea for help grew out of a frustrating moment for both her and her husband. Erlach wanted to go to bed early, and the baby was wailing. So she asked her husband to watch him so she could get some rest.
As Erlach wrote, the baby was inconsolable, and her mom instincts made her question whether she should go help or get that badly-needed sleep. She chose to sleep, but it wouldn't last long:
You came into the room 20 minutes later, with the baby still frantically crying. You placed the baby in the bassinet and gently pushed the bassinet just a few inches closer to my side of the bed, a clear gesture that you were done watching him.
Exhausted, frustrated, and desperate for a bit of rest, it was all she could do not to lose her temper:
I wanted to scream at you. I wanted to launch an epic fight that very moment. I had been watching the baby and the toddler all damn day. I was going to be waking up with the baby to feed him all damn night. The least you could do is hold him for a couple of hours in the evening to I can attempt to sleep.
The problem, as Erlich sees it, is that both she and her husband come from families with caring, but hands-off fathers and “superwoman” mothers. Their moms cooked, cleaned, and took care of the children. And their dads helped infrequently— and weren't expected to do much of the child care.