Viral Photo of Dad Sleeping on Hospital Floor Shows How Sharing the Parenting Load Really Works

Missouri-based mom Sara Duncan captured the image of her exhausted husband who had accompanied her and their daughter to the hospital after a 12-hour shift.

An image of the inside of a hospital.
Photo: Getty Images. Art: Jillian Sellers.

Even before the pandemic served to spotlight the issue, an important conversation had begun about the invisible load moms carry and how it causes so much stress, negatively impacting their well-being. The latest data from U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics from 2020 found that in some cases, mothers are spending double what fathers are on child care. But in some households, male partners are stepping up to share the load, as evidenced by a heartwarming viral photo shared on Facebook.

On March 23, Sara Duncan shared a shot of her husband Joe sleeping on a hospital floor. "Let's talk about this because it doesn't get enough attention," wrote the Frederickson, Missouri mom. She acknowledged that some people might take a look at the image and see "a dad sleeping while mom stays awake holding their sleeping baby in the ER at 2 a.m." But what she sees is a father "sleeping on the hard floor of an ER after working 12-hour shifts six days a week for the last month, despite the fact his wife asked him to stay home and rest"—all because he didn't want his babies in the hospital alone.

Duncan continued, "He didn't want his wife to have to do it on her own, no matter how exhausted he is."

She went on to point out that it's not always possible to divide up the work that comes with marriage or parenting 50/50. "Some days it is," she noted. "Other days, it's 60/40, 70/30, or even 80/20. And you have to be willing to pull your weight, no matter what your partner needs that day. This is what love is. This is what being a husband is. This is what being a daddy is."

The proud wife concluded, "I wouldn't want to do this life with anyone else! Thank you for all you do for us, Daddy! We love you!"

The post resonated with many Facebook users, resulting in 2.4K comments and 32K shares so far.

ABC News reported that Joe works as a cement technician and had just finished a 12-hour shift that night. Duncan had noticed that their daughter was wheezing so she wanted to bring her to the hospital. Her husband had a morning shift a few hours later, so he changed into clean work clothes and drove his wife and baby an hour to the hospital.

Later, upon seeing her devoted husband lying on the ER floor, Duncan was inspired to take a photo and write her Facebook post. As she told ABC, "I was looking at him thinking how thankful I am for him and how I wouldn't want to do this life without him."

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