So I am the lead parent. I have a full time job with early morning hours. I am still the one taking the kids to check ups, lessons, birthday parties and play dates. My husband vaguely knows where the children’s doctor is located. He did take our son to a dental appointment once. That is once in 5 years. He doesn’t do birthday parties as a rule but has accompanied us on a couple of occasions. What he doesn’t realize is that everyone hates kids parties. Standing around watching your kid eat bad food and run wild while you try to chat with some parent. You’ll likely never remember their name and you don’t care. Even when they offer alcohol. It never feels like a good way to spend three or four hours, not to mention the agony about how much to spend on the gift. Moms know when you got the gift off a clearance shelf. So the $20-30 gift certificate is my standard give or gift of the same value. I often get my kid to make a card. Why throw away another $5.
As lead parent, I get up in the middle of the night when the kids call. My husband started out his parenting role as the,”I’ll stay in bed till the ambulance arrives,” kind of parent. Well, the price to pay for that is that your kids don’t respond quickly to you in the lead parent role. Lead parents are the ones who comfort, care for and change wet and dirty clothes. Lead parents appear in the doorway and the children are happy and over excited. Last night was a parenting fail.
My husband came home late. He was going to parent out of guilt. The babies woke up calling for Mama. He decided he needed to do the comforting. My daughter screamed and cried. I was wide awake in another room. I didn’t go to her because my husband wanted to parent and it would be a giant fight if I stepped in to offer comfort. I was angry at myself, and at him. This was simply stupid. We were all playing at satisfying my husbands need to parent and not serving the needs of the children.
We all know who we married. I married someone who needed to grow and be less selfish.That growth happens in fits and starts then stalls. So I wait.
Getting up in the middle of the night, being sleep deprived, and eating badly because you have young kids, actually doesn’t last forever. It just feels like it. Already my children are growing and allowing me more freedom.
My husband spends a lot of time fighting this part of having young ones. But he is also fighting his guilt.
He goes through episodes. I wish I was a psychiatrist. I’m sure I’d know what then, what was going on his brain. But when work gets stressful, he will look for me to fight, and impose on my role as lead parent. We can’t just trade off when we want. He needs to step up and I will always remain lead parent until I can’t, and he can take over making the appointments, buying the clothes, making the lunches and picking up children from school.
In terms of childcare, too much is on my plate. But I married someone who can justify why he’s not participating. Whether it’s a reno or raising the kids. I actually get the blame for wanting to do it all. But here’s what… I am a black woman who as Margo Jefferson tells it in her memoir “Negroland,” we are not allowed to get depressed, or drop out. So I DO all the things that need to be done, and I keep doing….but one day this past summer I had a case of vertigo and collapsed in the school yard.
I looked into the faces of my children just 5 and 2. There were no tears, no sign of worry. I knew I would be fine. My husband was not calm. He would have to be lead parent until I was well. He couldn’t tell if I’d be ok.
In that moment I remember thinking…he is so dumb.
I was fine in the end. No sign of any medical problem. No diagnosis. I went home that night.
So my husband is at work, likely having a bad day. His go to fight tonight, I am sure, will be a,” why we don’t have enough sex.” Well the moment the children get home, we’ll have some dinner, then head back to school for parent teacher night. They’ll have to come with me. It would be a big ask for him to leave work by 7pm. That’s why I’m the lead parent.