Wednesday, February 04, 2009


Reading this post of Her Bad Mother's, I saw so much of myself in it. And I do wonder how this happened.

J and I have long split chores in half. Yes, I complain because he has never, NOT ONCE, in our nearly ten year relationship cleaned the damn bathroom, but he does all kinds of things. He will never think to dust but he does dishes, laundry, etc without ever being asked. Over time I have realized that we have settled in a largely gender traditional set of roles. And I cannot tell you how that happened. But still, the work is roughly 50-50 which is the most important thing. There have been times when I have done the bulk of the work and times when he is carrying more than his fair share. Our marriage is a real partnership and I am both grateful and proud of that.

I assumed this would continue on into parenthood and, for the most part, it has. J is a very involved father. He does half of the actual child care. Sometimes more than half.

And sometimes I am really really angry and resentful of him.

I have tried to explain it to him and failed to do it in a way that didn't make him feel defensive. I am the default parent.

If I am home and do not say PLEASE WATCH THE BABY then he usually isn't. If I work late or there is an accident on the freeway it is an EVENT, even if it is only fifteen minutes. Because he isn't supposed to have her after 4:30. When I stayed home on leave he routinely went out for drinks for HOURS after work. I am not supposed to pee before taking the baby.

I am in charge. Always. This is not about discipline or anything. But I am supposed to be the authority. He doesn't read up about foods or plan her meals. He doesn't buy her clothes or shoes. When he told me he wanted to try cloth diapering, I was the one who had to research everything, buy it and then teach everyone how to care for it. I book her doctor's appointments (though he does usually take her), figure out new outings to takes her on and just manage everything.

It's not that I cannot do those things or even want him to do them. It's that I resent that I have to do them. He doesn't even notice. He gets this incredible credit for doing half of the care--for doing his share. And you know what, he is a great dad, I don't want to take that from him. But, often those same people look down on me for making him do his share. Doing half isn't good enough for mom. I am supposed to keep house and take care of the baby and work and probably have sex and it is just a lot.

Meanwhile his life hasn't changed. I shouldn't say that, it has. He loves her more than anything. He worries about her, he cares for her, he has had to change his schedule. But he has a life. He goes out drinking with his buddies. He makes plans without lining up child care. If he goes on a business trip or wants to leave for a few days the world doesn't stop. He has fitness goals and concerts to go to and things he wants to do. And I have a stack of books to read on my commute and work to do after she goes to sleep (though he does this too) and an early morning schedule to keep.

I shouldn't be angry with my husband. And since going back to work I have found that I am settling into regular angry instead of insane angry which has to be a good thing. I am angry that this is all there is though. The system is bullshit but all hail the system I guess.

In other words I don't think this is about J. It's about my own expectations and not caring about what other people think and fucking accepting the fact that my work really really isn't crazy about women with young children but they will just have to deal. She gets older every day anyway.

And being angry doesn't fix anything.

1 comment:

Linda said...

"Default parenting" - that should be added to the Wikipedia or something.