I am a married-single mother of two. My husband is a married-single man with a wife and two kids. At this moment there are a few readers (most likely women) saying, “OMG! I know exactly what she means!” For the rest of you, allow me to explain.
First let me clear up any misconception. My husband and I do live together, laugh and enjoy each other’s company, and yes, there is love and affection between us. We do not fight frequently, and when we do it generally consists of a brief back-and-forth, no name calling, and we move on relatively quickly from it.
The single aspect of my classification of us is about time and responsibility regarding our kids. When it comes to our kids the bulk of the responsibility falls on me. This includes everything from general caretaking to rule enforcement. Most anything I do or plan to do must take them into account. I make sure that they are part of the plan or that arrangements have been made to leave them with supervision.
My husband on the other hand lives a life where he assumes that I’ve got it covered and therefore doesn’t worry about the kids. He does check on me on occasion to ask how they are doing, how I’m doing, then goes back on his way. He makes his plans regardless of the kids. It isn’t that he doesn’t care; he just doesn’t think he needs to worry about it.
When I want to go out with the ladies, take some time to myself, or to take the mother of all desires, a bath, I make sure my husband knows that he is in charge of the kids. Often he misinterprets this as a request that he somehow has the option of declining. He even attempts to negotiate, at which point one of those brief back-and-forths may occur.
It goes something like this:
Me: “Hey, sweetie, I’m going to go take a bath. The kids are watching a movie, so check on them, OK?”
Him: “Do you have to take a bath now? Can’t you wait until they go to bed? I’m trying to finish up some work here.”
Me: “They are watching a movie, just check on them while I go take a bath.”
Him: “How long are you going to be? You’re not going to stay in there forever, are you? I still have things I gotta get done.”
Me: “Fine! I’ll just take a shower, but I’m doing it now.”
Him: “OK, but don’t take too long.”
At this point I roll my eyes, go to the bathroom, and lock the door for my now short shower. However, if it were him going to take a shower he’d just say he was going to take a shower, and that would be that. No complaint and no negotiation from me.
Now I must point out that my husband is not an ogre. He doesn’t think a woman’s place is in the home where she should be maid, mother, and slave—though I suspect he wouldn’t object if I were to voluntarily take on those roles. He does plenty around the house like washing dishes, doing laundry, and mowing the lawn. But when it comes to the kids he’d rather defer to me.
When asked why, he usually responds with something along the lines of him believing I just know what to do with the kids better. News flash: I make it up as I go just like everybody else. I wasn’t biologically created with all the answers regarding kids. I didn’t give birth to a baby and a manual. He is just as capable of dealing with anything that may arise, and he can keep them alive while I take a freaking break.