14 responses to “The Default Parent

  1. Jen May 6, 2010 at 8:37 pm

    While I am definitely the default parent during the day, there are a few things that I am really happy they have played out the way they have: 1) husband is a light sleeper, so he generally wakes up to attend to a fussing son before me. 2) I work some nights, which means son has had to learn to be okay with Daddy putting him to sleep. I am very very very happy about this.

    • amoment2think May 6, 2010 at 8:43 pm

      Ah, having a husband who is a light sleeper- that would be a very big bonus! I am a very light sleeper and my husband could sleep through 5 firetrucks driving up and down our street. A can scream, but not loud enough for husband to wake up before me. 🙂

  2. Susan May 6, 2010 at 8:48 pm

    I relate, agree, concur, understand. I’ve yet to be able to put my finger on it…on the right words… about why this is for women. For even the the most enlightened women in the most egalitarian relationships. You’ve unbundled so many things here – I love it. I always thought that until we – as a society – started asking men, as a fundamental question, how in the world they balance all they do with their family responsibilities…things will never change. Your post is great food for thought.

    • amoment2think May 7, 2010 at 7:41 pm

      It is interesting, I think, because it seems like in an egalitarian relationship there shouldn’t be a default parent. But there still is. I think you are right, we have to start really talking about it if we want it to change.

  3. Perpetua May 7, 2010 at 6:19 am

    “Default parent” is pretty much the best term I’ve ever heard to describe this phenomenon. It might be because I’m angry about other stuff right now, but I just can’t stand it. It drives me crazy.

    And yes, my husband is “involved,” takes the baby (he’s the light sleeper), “watches” him on weekends, etc., and I know that’s hard because he works full time. But seriously, we’ve had the high chair for six months and you still don’t know how the tray works? You’ve changed less poop diapers in a year than I change in a week?

    It really pisses me off. 😦

    • Perpetua May 7, 2010 at 4:18 pm

      Note to self: do not post comments mid-argument. 🙂

    • amoment2think May 7, 2010 at 7:43 pm

      I always find it funny and a bit frustrating when my husband doesn’t know something (like how the high chair tray works…although my husband knows that one… but you know something like that) that seems like second nature to me.

  4. The Disgruntled Academic May 7, 2010 at 1:26 pm

    OMG, did you hit the nail on the head. But is it possible to not be the default parent, whether or not you’re running a full time Breastaurant? Mr. Disgruntled cleans the catbox, does the dishes, makes dinner (including some killer homemade pizzas), does the laundry, vacuums, etc. But the one thing he absolutely can’t do, is console the Noodle when she’s hit DEFCON 5. It makes him crazy, hell, it makes *me* crazy. It’s not for lack of trying, it’s just that sometimes she wants Mama, now dammit, NOW!

    I’d like to think that this default status changes over time, but then I think about my relationship with my mom when I was little. I think *I* thought of her as the default parent. Whenever I went out with my Dad, I could “get away” with things that I couldn’t with mom. Dad would get me a Happy Meal and let me get a gumball out of the machine at the grocery store. So maybe it doesn’t change. I guess we’ll have to see.

    • amoment2think May 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm

      That is a good point- sometimes it is the babies ‘request’ for Mommy that makes us the default parents. A will let my husband calm her down sometimes, but when she is really upset she wants Mom. So I don’t know if it is possible to not be the default parent.

      Also, LOVE the term Breastaurant!!! That is hilarious!

  5. Sophie May 7, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    I find it really interesting because now that my husband has been home with our son for almost 2 years, I have to objectively say he has become the default parent in a lot of ways. I try to fight it because I know how much it can suck for the default parent, but it’s hard because he’s the one who knows our boy’s habits, he’s the one who knows if we’re missing something that should be picked up at the grocery, etc . So he’s usually the one who packs the bag for outings, who decides how many bites of supper our son has to eat if he wants another piece of bread, whether or not he should be allowed a snack that close to supper, whether he should be made to nap…

    Yet there are areas where I’m still the default. If we need to make appointments (doctor/dentist/etc.) for our son, it’s me. And if our son cries, night or day, I become the default parent. Mostly because my son wants me, and when my husband goes to him he is often rejected, and that sucks. So I tend to just go. Which probably perpetuates the situation. But eh, we’re human! Especially at 4 in the morning when the diaper leaked and the entire bed is soaked (as happened last night… but my husband changed the bed while I changed the boy, so really, I can’t complain at all)!

    • amoment2think May 7, 2010 at 7:48 pm

      I was wondering if you might have a different perspective on this. It sounds actually like the arrangement you guys have allows for both of you to be the ‘default’ at certain times and not at others. Maybe it is not possible for there not to be a ‘default’ parent, but if you kinda switch it back and forth based on the circumstance, that seems like the best deal possible.

  6. Megan May 7, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    I suppose I’m the default parent, at least most of the time. Charlotte loves her daddy, and he’s great. He changes just as many diapers, puts her down for naps, and helps out with meals. I do way more, but as a SAHM, that’s sort of the deal we’ve worked out.

    What’s funny is that I used to get really upset when he would do things I thought I was *supposed* to be the one to do or when he questioned one of my methods. I felt like it was MY job, and I don’t tell him how to do his job. It was an ego buster for me. It took a while for me to accept that he is just as much Charlotte’s parent as I am, and he has every right to have a say in what goes on with her.

    • amoment2think May 7, 2010 at 7:56 pm

      Yeah, I think it is interesting how we Mom’s do things that perpetuate the situation. It is not just a simple issue of the Dad’s doing more. They are often already trying to do more. It is in part the mothering instinct (for some at least) and in part the way the baby behaves (babies may show a preference for one or the other under normal circumstances, but when they are really upset, they want Mom). And probably a lot of other factors too.

  7. amoment2think May 7, 2010 at 8:00 pm

    Also! Update! Husband
    1) Read this post
    2) Looked at the calendar and realized this Sunday was Mothers day

    And then, while at home sick, folded and put away all the laundry. And bought me flowers. And I think he might have something else up his sleeve (he can’t keep secrets to save his life).

    So, I guess I am saying I take back the “he just can’t fold and put away or I would never be able to find my clothing.” Oh and I wanted to publicly say “Thank you husband, you are wonderful!”

%d bloggers like this: