Being the default parent

‘Mummy’ is the most used word in our house, or perhaps a close second to ‘Peppa’.

It’s a real double-edged sword when your children turn to you for everything. They have a default setting that automatically kicks in when a particular need requires addressing, whether it be hunger, thirst, a dirty nappy or boredom. Their instinct tells them to ask for mummy as she is the nurturer, their safe place.

Don’t get me wrong, my husband absolutely does his fair share and always offers to help with more. Sometimes we say “no, daddy is doing it” and the argument goes away. Sometimes it’s better to just to accept the mummy request than to argue and sometimes you need to avert the toddler tantrum before it goes thermonuclear.

On the one hand it feels great that your children rely on and love you so much that they want you to do most things for them.

But while it’s a sign you’re doing something right as a mum, as time goes on and the requests/demands continue to flood in while getting more complicated the realisation creeps in that you’re actually the number one dogsbody.

You’ve got a hundred chores that needed doing yesterday plus work to catch up on so you ask your husband to step in to do the kids tea. But they don’t want daddy to do tea, they want mummy. And they won’t stop whining and eat until mummy is the one presenting the food.

This week my baby started saying “mama”. It’s been so lovely to hear her saying her first word. And yes, it does feel brilliant that it’s my name she’s saying. There’s an unspoken race among parents to be the subject of the first word. Grandparents try to get in on the action too but they’re disadvantaged by not being in the house 24/7 to put the hours in to repeating their name over and over again like a slightly manic broken record.

The shine on my winner’s crown has dulled a little since however, as I’ve noticed she mostly says it when grizzling over some unfulfilled need. The word is generally accompanied by a little frown and sad mouth with a wobbly bottom lip.

With two of them now raising their voices to create a ear-splitting chorus of “mummies” non-stop I am seriously wondering whether the name should just be changed to “servant”. You should always just call a spade a spade after all. I wonder if it’s time to go on strike or start carrying out my duties a little more half heartedly. Slack off a bit so they’ll look to their dad to bring standards back up to normal.

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I decided to weigh up the good and bad of being the default parent:

Pros

  • Glory of being wanted/needed all the time.
  • Getting to spend extra time with your children because they want you to.
  • Feeling pleased your children love your cooking so much.
  • Getting extra cuddles.
  • The validation that you’re obviously doing a great job.

Cons

  • Exhaustion of being wanted/needed all the time.
  • Always asked to do bath and bed and often feel too guilty to say no.
  • Being requested at every nappy change.
  • Tantrum upon learning Mummy isn’t coming to the park.
  • Struggling to find a minute of free time to catch up on chores.
  • Never getting a moment’s peace to sit down without someone climbing all over you.

On balance I’m happy to be my kids’ default parent. Just as long as they pick their dad to change the nappies once in a while.

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2 Comments

  1. July 20, 2017 / 9:38 pm

    I’m the default parent in our home too as my hubby is out at work most of the day. Although I’m just about to go for an op which means that Daddy will have to pick up the Mummy-reins for a while. I have no doubt that he can do it, in fact I know he’ll do a brilliant job, but it will definitely be a shock to the kids as they’ve never not had me there at their beck and call. I think it might do us all a bit of good! I really enjoyed reading this. Thanks for linking to #DreamTeam x

  2. July 29, 2017 / 1:38 pm

    Yes, “mummy” sometimes feels interchangeable with “servant”! In our house, both of us working does take the pressure off though. It just feels like I have two jobs! #dreamteam

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