Can't I be the "dad"?
October 24, 2012 8:37 PM Subscribe
My SO wants kids and would make a great dad. The trick is, I don't want to be "the mom."
posted by anonymous to human relations (60 answers total) 103 users marked this as a favorite
While I've always recoiled at the notion of having children, I realized recently that what I actually recoil at is the notion of being "the mom" -- the primary caretaker, the default "school wardrobe" shopper, the doctor-appointment scheduler, the discipline enforcer. In short, I fear becoming the unhappy overworked person that my mother was when I was growing up. I feel resentful of my SO just thinking about this prospective future. (Totally insane, I know. I don't act on it, I promise!)
A a friend gently pointed out recently, maybe my resistance to having children is shaped by the fact that my mom WAS so unhappy being the primary caretaker. This friend asked me, "What if you woke up tomorrow as a man?" My answer surprised me, I realized I would be totally enthusiastic to have the traditional dad role. To help out a great deal, but not to be THE main caretaker, the one responsible for all the little details.
Unfortunately, I am a woman. And while my partner is progressive, he was also raised in a household where parenting roles hewed pretty close to the social norm (even though his mom and mine are both career women). And although SO and I are both smart, sensitive people who communicate extremely well, I worry that we'd slip into the examples of our parents, not least because those examples are constantly reinforced by society at large.
Did any other Mefites have similar reservations when it came time to consider spawning? How did you work through them? Did you involve your partner in your efforts to reenvision what childrearing would mean? Have you and your partner succeeded in ensuring that you approach childraising in an egalitarian way -- or in a way that puts the role of "primary caretaker" on the man? If so, how did you do this? What groundwork do you recommend??
I apologize if the question seems open-ended. I'm starting to feel a great deal of internal pressure about this. I know that if I decide never to have kids, I should end this relationship, because it wouldn't be fair to him otherwise. But it has become clear to me that it's not kids I dread, but traditional American motherhood. And so I'm looking to hear from women who maybe understand that fear, and have found ways to address and work through everything that it entails.