The one that feels like they need to announce when they’re going to be leaving the room so the other parent knows they won’t be watching the child/children.
A couple weeks ago I had a conversation with my husband about how I felt like the “default parent”. I was feeling irritated and I had started to pay attention to what exactly was making me feel this way on weekends. Now, of course quarantine life has really amplified any kind of feelings I have with regard to “mom life”. Prior to quarantine life, Milo was in daycare and I was finishing up my PhD and actually getting out of the house regularly. So, keep that in mind. If coronavirus never existed, I might have never experienced this “default parent” feeling. The first time I brought it up, I couldn’t really explain what was making me feel irritated. I said something like “I feel like I’m the one that is always watching over Milo and interacting with him constantly while you do stuff around the house, etc.” I was clear that it wasn’t anyones FAULT. It was just how I felt our family dynamic had become.
I don’t want to do the dishes at 9am on a Saturday morning. AND, I also don’t want my husband doing the dishes at 9am on a Saturday morning.
Being the default parent also means that you feel a nagging guilt anytime you’re doing something alone while the other parent is entertaining/watching the child/children. I have this issue! Unless I am out of the house running errands, gone for a walk, vacuuming, etc. (doing something productive and/or distracting), I feel like I have to be doing whatever Milo and my husband are doing. Why?? Why can’t I just sit inside and read or do nothing while they play outside? It is such an annoying feeling because it prevents me from enjoying alone time.
Trying to explain this feeling of being the “default parent” to your partner can be difficult. My husband looked at me confused… “you don’t want me to do the dishes or take out the garbage?” No, I don’t. Not right now, anyways. For the next three hours I want you to sit on the floor with Milo, make animals sounds and point at the TV saying “look hunny, it’s Elmo, or Peppa, or The Wiggles, etc.” in a really high pitched voice. It sounds crazy. I know. I think this is why it took me 90 days of quarantine to figure out that I am the “default parent” and what that even means. Like, “why am I annoyed that my husband is doing the dishes right now?” I am annoyed because he is busy doing productive things and I feel like I’m stuck doing the SAME things I’ve been doing all week (i.e., “moooo”). And, because he is busy doing stuff (whatever that may be) means that I can’t be doing stuff that I want to do.
Who wants to accomplish what? What are some activities you want to do alone and as a family?