Thing 2

I’m the Default

The last week or so, we have discovered that NikkiZ might be turning into quite a Momma’s Girl. She has started just automatically fussing when I pass her off to MrZ. At first? I thought, “Oh! She likes me, she really likes me!” Then, I blew it off to her being tired or hungry or teething or whatever because it was hard for me to imagine her being a Momma’s Girl. I leave her at daycare everyday, she can’t be THAT attached to me. Of course, the more I realized that she stopped crying immediately when I took her back from him? The more I had to face the fact that we were starting a trend I did NOT need to see through. Two working parents and two kids – everyone must be flexible or else everyone is miserable.

After further analysis, I realized something about our parenting dynamic: I am the default setting. NikkiZ still needs constant care, obviously. We can leave her in the excersaucer for a bit, or we can put her on the floor with toys, but she still needs constant supervision.

(Except when we lock her in the cage, then she’s fine for several hours. That is, as long as I leave her peanut butter covered steak bites to snack on.)

Once MrZ and I get home from work? That job of babysitter falls on my shoulders – unless I pass it off to someone else. Now, this wasnt anything I set out to do, it just kinda happened that way. MrZ takes care of her when/if I ask him to. Of course, he never says “No” and is 100% willing to take Baby Duty all the time, but unless I ask? He’s not going to just come take her from me when he’s enjoying some quality time with the TiVo. And how often do you think I ask for help? Yeah. Exactly.

So, this week? Every afternoon I have left the house for 30 minutes to an hour. NikkiZ has not been a huge fan of this situation, but its growing on her. This is hard on the both of us because MrZ feels like she hates him and that we’re having to FORCE her to like him. And its hard on me because I feel like I’m pawning my responsibilities off onto him. I’d rather carry her around the house while I do laundry, cook dinner, and clean toilets – all while he’s playing on his laptop – than to actually ASK him to watch her for a minute. The idea of “asking” for help makes me feel as though I’m admitting I can’t do it alone. AND I CAN, DAMMIT. WATCH ME.

What is wrong with me? I have a perfectly able and willing husband who would love to help out, but I don’t ever ask. It’s a sickness, this compulsive disorder of mine, that I have to do EVERYTHING myself or else? I’m a failure. Maybe it’s because my Dad raised me and my brother and did it all without help. I feel like I’m not living up to his example if I can’t entertain a toddler and fold clothes at the same time. Or maybe I’m just a control freak who can’t let go of anything long enough to let someone help me.

(Because I don’t NEED help, DAMMIT. I can do it BY MYSELF. BACK OFF.)

I guess I need to learn to ask more, and MrZ? Needs to just do it. He needs to notice, “Hey – Z is washing dishes while she’s entertaining the baby, maybe I’ll go help her out since she’s too stubborn to aks for help.”


27 thoughts on “I’m the Default”

  1. you are very right, Mr. Z has to “see” that you need help but he is male (or at least he looked male) and he doesn’t have the capacity for such…erm……to home in on such gotta ask, you totally gotta ask

  2. I am not a mom but I can’t help but think maybe you should look at it as NikkiZ and MrZ having a relationship. If you see it as that rather than giving MrZ time on the computer and you with NikkiZ all the time maybe that would make more sense to you. It’s not a matter of I can do it myself but rather a daughter knowing her dad. Again I’m not a mom but that’s how I would approach it.

  3. Having twins, I really have no choice but to have him help – all the time as a matter of fact, we switch off on feedings, changings, etc. or sometimes do it together. I have no problem with letting him handle just about anything necessary for the boys. It is just about trust and letting go. It was hard at first as I also have that “I can do it myself” ‘tude. Have since I was a kid. But the more you do it, the easier it is and then YOU will have more time for “you” time when you want it also. I agree with what Lori said too about looking at it as the two of them building their relationship. That is very true and will benefit everyone today and tomorrow.

  4. That totally could have been me writing that post. I have to make myself ask hubby to watch Zach or I will just automatically do it. When he started hitting the clingy stage and refused to go to his daddy without screaming I knew something had to change and quick. I decided that I didn’t raally want to pee with a kid in my lap for the rest of my life, so hubby and I have been trying to make sure that the two of them have a little relationship-building time together every day. I think it has helped a little, but Zach is still quite a momma’s boy. I think it is a natural part of the “caretaker” role all moms seem to have that we just don’t want to ask for help.

  5. Zooty, you really hit the ol’ nail on the head with this one. The whole “default” mode is the last hump that every couple I know has had to address. Even if you are totally progressive and feminist and committed to equality, somehow the crying/stinky/hungry babies and kids almost always seem to find their way into mom’s arms. Brilliant, girl. I may have to use this as a starting off point for my own entry if I can find time to string any coherent sentences together now that the rugrats are home.

  6. no kids here, but I’m like that too, I’m sure I could ask my husband to do something for me but then it might look like I can’t handle it. I’m definitely an admitted control freak, but I’m working on that. Hopefully by the time we have kids I will be able to let go

  7. Thanks for making me (slightly) culturally hip. I am graduating from nursing school next week and someone wanted a gift idea so I thought I’d ask for one of those charms that has RN or something on it b/c what I really want is my windows tinted and that seems like a stupid thing to ask for and they don’t want to spend that much I’m guessing….anyway. So I do a web search for “nurse necklaces” to get some ideas of what I like/don’t like and a bunch of the results were for nursing necklaces like you got for distracting NikkiZ. Which I would never have had any idea what the hell they were had you not told us about it. So thank you for not making me stare at my computer dumbfoundedly for once. I just went “hey, i know what those are! zoot has one!” like a big nerd. Luckily I live alone. πŸ˜‰

  8. All of my children favored me too. I say enjoy it . It does’t last long and next month Mr. Z may be the favorite.

  9. Looks like you’ve got a raging case of “Mommy guilt”. Martini’s will fix that in a heartbeat πŸ™‚

  10. I don’t have kids, but I definitely have a hard time asking my spouse for help. Sometimes he’ll notice me struggling and say, “You can ask me for help. I really do like helping you.” I just have to tell myself that I’m not being weak if I ask my spouse for help, that’s part of being a team… I guess… Although I was never much a team player. πŸ™‚

    Just discovered your blog, it’s great!

  11. My mom isn’t always a veritable fountain of advice–more like a fountain of Jack and Diet Pepsi. But there’s one piece of advice that she gave me, that’s stuck with me and has proven true time and time again…

    “Men need to feel needed.”

    God bless the strong men that love us strong women, right? And I’m sure he doesn’t doubt that you’re capable. But think of it like you’re doing HIM a favor, and all will be right in the universe again. πŸ˜‰

  12. Many men are VERY willing to help, but they seldom figure it out by themselves. That’s just the way most of them are wired. I learned 20+ years ago. S*P*E*L*L* it out! Ask!! It will be the same when your kids are teenagers. If you expect people to read your mind, it ain’t gonna happen. Ask for help, so you can have more free time together!! Eventually you will resent it. You may not now, but eventually you’ll burn out and be pissed off about it, even though you’ve got a ready, willing, and able Daddy to help you out!

  13. Sometimes it’s just easier to do it yourself, it takes even more effort to encourage someone else to help you and at the end of the day who has anymore effort? Not to mention the fact it wont (is this a word by the way?) be done the way you would do it and there you will be, having to do it all anyway. I know because I’ve been there and almost lost my mind along the way. Asking him to participate, will be good for your relationship. While he’s doing it, read Reviving Ophelia (Mary Pipher Ph.D.) and check out how important Dads are to girl’s self-esteem, it will help you feel less guilty.

  14. This is me all over. I finally realized sometime during kid number 3 that just because I CAN do it all, doesn’t mean I SHOULD do it all. In fact I SHOULDN”T do it all, because it’s not the best choice for me, my kids or my husband. You’re more of a family if you work as a team.

    One trick I learned, which may or may not help you, is I ask Aaron “either-or” questions when it’s time to divvy up tasks, like, “Do you want to do the dishes or put the kids to bed?” For some reason this doesn’t feel exactly like asking for help, (something about saying “do you want” instead of “could you please”) but my brain is weird, so that might not work for you.

  15. You are SO smart for nipping it in the bud!
    My 2.5 year old daughter FREAKS out if I leave her!

    Dad? She loves him from afar but that is it.

    She was preemie and needed a lot of special care as an infant and I guess she just got used to it.

  16. He does need to notice more. And I don’t think you need to “ask.” The whole concept of asking implies he is not responsible – only you are. I bet he feels that way because you are so good at being Mommy and handling everything. “Why would she need my help? I can’t do it better than she can.” You could try to play “tag” (or something like that) and hand off NikkiZ to MrZ without asking to try and shift the responsibility dynamic.

    I really struggled with this problem. Our Okapis never wanted to be with me when my wife was around or when she left. It took time. Time for me to get more comfortable with them and time for them to get used to me doing the things my wife does so well – but in my own way. I was very lucky that my wife was so supportive of me developing a strong bond with them. So much so, I got to put them to bed at night by myself and that dramatically changed my relationship with them. He just needs to push through this stage until it gets better. (P.S. Don’t tell him about the Mommy Do It Stage yet)

  17. All my kids favored me as well. It is hard for me to ask for help. Then I get angry and wonder why I should ask. Men!!! My hubby totally has it made!

  18. All my kids favored me as well. It is hard for me to ask for help. Then I get angry and wonder why I should ask. Men!!! My hubby totally has it made!

  19. OMG

    You and I were obviously separated at birth.

    Feeling compelled to be Super Mom/Wife is the story of my life.

  20. We had this same problem with our daughter..I was/am a SAHM and so she saw me all day long. When daddy would come home she would cry for me because that is what she was used too. Daddy thought she hated him. It’s only a phase because she is 7 now and I come 2nd only to daddy. Which is fine, I love their relationship because they are so close. Tell Mr.Z not to give up…ALL little girls love love their daddys. Its from 6-9 mths that they have an attachment to mom.

  21. I hope it works for you.

    From my experience with 3 co-sleepers was I got so much more sleep by being able to nurse right in bed than getting out of the bed to nurse. My kids would have marathon nursing nights from teething or whatever and I could light sleep right through it. With you working…you really need a good night’s sleep.

    My dd is almost 5, ( weaned for years now) has her own room and BED and she still ends up in our bed sometime in the middle of the night or early AM.

  22. It’s scary how many of us relate to this post. It just goes to show that no matter how progressive we think we are becoming, we’re not.
    I am with you on the control issue, although sometimes it’s just easier to do things myself than to have to ask and explain.

  23. I am one of these people you speak of. I don’t ask my partner to do anything for me because I feel as though I can do it all on my own. Now I’m pregnant and I have to ask for help when say I can’t carry the laundry basket downstairs, I feel like I’m asking way to much. I wish I was able to ask for help rather than trying to do everything.

  24. Amen!! Uh, for me the preferring mommy stage did not last from 3 to 9 months. So far we are at 3.5 years and counting. I too am lousy at asking for help. Am also lousy at being yelled at for creating a momma’s boy and not letting him in, blah blah blah. Rock hurts, hard place also hurts. Thanks for letting me know I’m not alone.

  25. I’m a single mom that has no choice but to do it all. I wish for my son to have a father to share in everything he/we do more than anything else. A child needs constant attention from both parents not just one. One parent shouldn’t be doing it all whether you can do it or not isn’t really and issue we all know that we can if we have to, but you DON’T have to. Share the parenting with your husband your daughter will suffer with out it.

Leave a Reply