The default parent is not only the one who takes on the bulk of the childcare responsibilities but also the family administrator. She (it's usually a she) looks after all appointments, medical issues, sign ups, school events, sports and especially anything needing registration or paperwork. I am the default parent in our family. My husband is an amazing dad, but he will often defer to me in all issues relating to our child. I am like the Kid Sheriff around here and he, well, he's my Deputy.
However, there are times when society has considered me the "default parent" and I don't always know how to feel about it. I wanted a child for a long time before my husband and I welcomed our son to the world, and I still get a thrill when people simply surmise that I am my son's mommy without having to ask. But when people, especially strangers or those we don't know my family well, presume that I am in charge without considering my husband and the responsibilities he has as a father, it sometimes annoys me. Plus, I know it can seem hurtful to my husband, who is just as much a parent as I am.
Mom's can feel overwhelmed sometimes (read: almost all the time), especially if they are juggling both demanding careers, a busy home, and other responsibilities. It's about time we started asking our partners for more support and challenging the times when society considers us moms to be he default parent.
When I gave birth, my husband and I couldn't get out of the hospital fast enough. The main reason? One miserable and demeaning nurse. Nurses are compassionate professionals who work incredibly hard, but this individual probably should have retired a long time ago.
She belittled my husband repeatedly, passing the baby away from him and back to me, saying that he wasn't holding our infant properly. My husband has one arm and was working hard to find the best position to hold his new baby. He needed support and encouragement, not to be so callously and carelessly passed over. I had just gone through a 48 hour birth and I needed everyone in that room to trust that my husband could be a dad.
My son and I had an awful lot of activities and classes to choose from when I was on maternity leave. However, I couldn't help but notice that there didn't seem to be any offerings for "Daddy and Me" classes, and that's just not fair. This is just another way moms are just presumed to be the main care giver.
My husband picks our son up from preschool, but whenever there has been an issue or problem to discuss, the teacher doesn't say a word to him (even when he asks specifically). Instead, she'll call me later.
It makes my husband feel like he is just the babysitter, and it makes me feel overwhelmed.
Last year I was offered a free trip to China. Yeah, I know. I was only going to be gone for five days, but I experienced some shocked reactions from a number of people (from the visa application clerk to my boss to friends and family) about leaving my son behind.
It seemed like they thought I was leaving my toddler home alone, rather than in the very capable hands of his father.
Whenever we eat out, the waiter or waitress will invariably turn to me to see what my son wants to eat and then give me the plate when the food is brought to the table.
Sometimes the server has to actually lean over my husband to give the food to me. It would be so refreshing for someone to pass the plate to my husband, instead of automatically to me.
When we registered our child for soccer class we had to provide both parents' contact information. Still, for some reason I am the only one who receives the email newsletter, reminder text messages, and phone calls.
Either someone has a pretty big crush on me, or I am being considered the "default parent." Ugh.
Thanksgiving plans, vacation queries, clothing sizes for my son, what he wants as a gift for his birthday; all of these questions (and more, actually) seem to get funneled towards me. It's as if my husband had never met the kid before.
We have attended almost all of our son's doctor appointments together as a trio, yet my doctor will always look at me for answers to a variety of questions about our son. He will hand me the prescription, give me any measurements, dates or results, and generally treat me as "the boss."
In lots of areas of my life, I actually quite like being the boss. However, when it comes to my son who I raise in a partnership with my husband, ask the Deputy sometimes, would you? Thanks.