Sharing the Load

Can Parental Equality Actually Be A Thing?

By Alexis Barad-Cutler

Conversation at Mom Group recently turned to the topic of parental equality in terms of who takes on the bigger portion of household and childcare duties — and, SURPRISE! It’s mostly moms, regardless of whether both parents work full time or not. And the kicker is: Most of the time, whenever a dad “pitches in” in some kind of unusually helpful way, he gets a disproportionate amount of appreciation than when a mom does, well . . . what she always does. Which is everything.

One Mom Group member’s comment summed it all up perfectly:

I wonder if there is such a thing as true parental equality because I sure as shit have never seen it. Moms take it all . . . stay at home, working, breadwinners . . . We do way more than the lion’s share. And maybe it is because we mostly treat dads like dip-shits who don’t know how to change a diaper — and they get a fucking ticker tape parade when Mom “gets to have a manicure and Dad babysits.

Many Mom Groupers agreed with her, throwing in their “amens” and “yassses” — and then another mom posed the question of whether or not we, the moms, are facilitating this behavior on the dad’s part in the first place.

“…maybe it is because we mostly treat dads like dip-shits who don’t know how to change a diaper.”

It got a lot of us thinking. Some said that they get so frustrated with even the idea of their partner doing something wrong, that they just do it themselves, and end up resenting that fact later.

One mom wrote that she even plays into this behavior sometimes:

When I travel for work I post funny pictures of my baby dressed like a crazy person because “Dopey Dad” can’t find the right clothes. I lower the bar and say things like, “as long as everyone is alive it is all good.” Nope, it actually isn’t. I work hard to curate activities, meals, clothes, etc. Why should I have to uphold to a different (higher) standard than my partner?

Some moms said they address this problem head on by assigning their partner a specific part of their child’s routine, so that their partner can own it. Some said that they have clear conversations about who does what, and that that’s another way that they don’t end up having to do everything at home. Still, you have to have a partner who is willing to have these conversations and to do the work.

And finally, Mom Groupers wrote in with some unequal parenting “confessions” :

My husband has never been alone with our kids. It’s been two years.”

“My girls have an amazing relationship with their dad. However, he totally gets to be the fun parent, and I’m the one that gets all the shit done.”

“Just realized hubs has never given the girls a BATH! I tried it tonight — Can you give them a bath while I make dinner, honey? And he filled the tub but that was it. No soap, no hair washing, no watching them! What the effin eff!

I wish I had the answers, but I’m no couples counselor. Luckily we have each other — this community — to vent to and lean on when our heads are going to explode.

 

Speaking of community . . . I am SO EXCITED about our very first NSFMG event on October 30th in partnership with The Motherhood Center: “Ask Me Anything”. It is going to be a very special and fun night — basically, its NSFMG come to life. (At least, that’s what it is in my dreams, and after I’ve had several drinks.) Make sure to register on Eventbrite before it sells out!