I’m the Primary Parent, but I’m Not the Only Parent That Matters

Image: j&j brusie photography
Image: j&j brusie photography

Last week, I wrote about how I didn’t consider myself “lucky” to have a husband who is 100% a fully involved, hands-on parenting partner. Grateful? Yes. Thankful? Of course. “Lucky”? No.

The article, as expected, had mixed reactions, with some women agreeing with me and some totally hating on me. “Yea your lucky n yea prolly 60% of men don’t help with their kids,” wrote one mother on Facebook.

I’m not exactly sure where those scientific statistics come from, but I get it: women still struggle with being the primary parent, in so, so many ways.

And I may be one of the “lucky” ones, with a husband who can change diapers with the best of them, make pizza dough from scratch (no, seriously), and just yesterday fetched a stool sample from one of our kids because I suddenly had a very pressing deadline, but there is one thing that I left out of my article — I’m still the “primary” parent in this house.

I stay home with our four kids about 95% of the time (it’s my goal to send them to their aunt’s once a week or so for all of our sanity’s sake!), and I made the decision a long time ago to take on pretty much all of the at-home responsibilities, since I’m the one here the majority of the time.

Sometimes, I admit that it’s hard, being in the place where I feel like parenting and work should be shared, with the realities of what that actually looks like in day-to-day life. My husband may be the best father on the planet, but if I’m the one here all day, that’s not really much help now, is it?

Let’s be clear, I’m OK with that because I’ve chosen it and I’ve worked outside the home before, so this is a very, very conscious decision on my part. I am 100% OK with being the “primary” parent, but I also recognize that I, like a lot of women, still feel a little trapped between modern-day ideals and the realities of being the one who’s actually the at-home parent.

Sometimes I even feel, ridiculously, like it’s somehow bad that I’m the primary parent. Like hey, it’s 2015, we should both be the primary parents. Except we’re not — well not during working hours, anyway.

It’s hard, when my husband walks in the door at the end of the day, to turn off being the one in charge and allow my husband to be a fully equal parent, too. Does that sound horrible? Probably and it probably sounds awful to use the world “allow,” but isn’t that what it feels like sometimes? Like you have to make a conscious effort to step back and remind yourself that your husband is just as equal as a parent as you are, even if he’s not physically present as much?

For me, it has come down to accepting what works for us, with me at home and him, well, not; letting go of what I think our relationship “should” look like; and basically dancing a constant shuffle to try not to step on each other’s toes.

Sometimes, my husband does look to me for direction when it comes to the kiddos, but instead of throwing up my feminist flag and demanding that he do everything I do equally, I can remind myself that our roles and responsibilities during the day do differ — and that’s OK.

Because even though I may be the primary parent during the day, there’s always the night shift to make up for it, right?


Kind of.

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