Have you heard about the default parent? The post went viral recently, and the author #nailedit. Seriously, it’s one of those blog posts that just makes most parents quietly sigh, “Yessss.” Even reading it aloud to my husband last night, he agreed. Every family, we’ve decided, must be functioning like this to some degree – including us. However, M. Blazoned put this much more eloquently than I ever could have.
The hubs and I have been talking about this concept a lot lately, before we even stumbled onto this “Default” theory. Except, I have defined two roles in our family: the fun parent and the shit parent. The latter is a noun, not an adjective and should not be confused with “shitty” parent.
In comparison to the original “default parent,” there are a couple of things that are important to point out about our household. First, we have toddlers who are still reliant on us in nearly every capacity for their survival. We live in a constant haze of Don’t let the baby fall down the stairs and Don’t leave the 3 year old alone in the room with the dog or he’ll lose an ear. Like, they take every ounce of energy and attention we can give them. Then, the icing, we both work equally demanding, 50+ hour a week jobs, outside the home. Plus I am in grad school. We are both exhausted, at all times.
Survival mode for us means a division of labor. No one parent gets to slack off consistently. People close to us like to remind me how lucky I am to have a husband who is so active and present in my children’s lives. Which, I get it, to an extent. But, like, why does that make me lucky? Shouldn’t that be the norm in this scenario? Literally, all things are equal. He damn well should be doing half the work.
But the beauty in our home is the way the labor is split. And, I’m not quite sure how it got this way. No, that’s a lie: it’s because I am a control freak. I mean, sure, my husband will empty out the trash…but he will not notice the 8 pieces of trash that fall out of the basket in the process. And so they will just sit on the floor, until I pick them up. These ancillary pieces of trash are details and he’s just not a details guy, if you catch my drift. One time, Tristan made himself a pot of coffee (I told you, we are tired). So I ran a little test. Would he wash the pot himself, since I drank none? Three weeks it sat in the sink. Three. Weeks.
My mantra has become: if you want a job done right, might as well do it yourself. Thus, the shit parent was born.
The shit parent is the lucky one that gets to do all the – you guessed it – shit. Things like cleaning the toothpaste splatter off the bathroom mirrors. Purging mounds and mounds of outgrown clothing. Cooking every.single.meal. Grocery shopping. Clipping the dingleberries from the dogs ass. Cleaning out whatever the fuck is in this cup holder:
The shit parent (just like the default parent) knows where all the shit is in the house at all times. Like, there is currently a half eaten cheese stick in our basement, sitting innocently on the brick ledge of our wood stove. I know it’s there, but I didn’t put it there. Do you think my husband is concerned with this in any capacity at this moment in time? Absolutely not. Who do you think will clean that shit up? Me.
The shit load is clearly unbalanced – I’d say it’s about a 75/25 split, considering I refuse to mow the lawn or put new break pads on the car. By default then, so is the fun load. Because while I’m taking care of the shit, someone’s got to be making sure no one loses an eye. And so it goes, the fun parent brings the kids down to the basement playroom to build towers and forts and watch Disney movies.
Let’s go downstairs so mom can make dinner.
Let’s go downstairs so mom can do the dishes.
Let’s go downstairs so mom can organize that sock drawer.
Let’s go downstairs so mom can have her nervous breakdown.
I mean, I’m just saying that it would be a nice thing if every once in a while I could come home, bring the kiddos downstairs, play a nice little game of don’t touch the lava, watch a few episodes of MMCH, and call it a night. You know, have the dinner made and the floor swept, and not have to wipe rogue beard clippings from the sink while I’m brushing my teeth. Maybe then I’d feel a little less like I’m losing my freaking mind.
This is not a slight to my husband. He knows this is happening and agrees to this theory. It doesn’t mean he doesn’t DO enough; he’s just not wired in the same way. That much is clear, when for 8 days straight he puts our 13 month old daughter in 6 month size pants. Oh, I thought they were capris. And never once does it dawn on him to put the 6 month sizes into storage.
So, what am I left to do? It’s like with the default parent, I guess this is just how it will be – how we will survive – for the next few years. Like, until it becomes acceptable to raise my voice at the child who just leaves random cheese sticks about the house. Until I can ask them questions like: Were you raised in a barn? or, Are your legs broken? And make statements like: The kitchen is closed! and, Money doesn’t grow on trees!
I will just pray to the mommy gods that we make it until then.