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Damn This Default Parent Business

Can we discuss what it is to be the default parent in the home? It’s not intentional, it just happens. It starts subtly when the kids are in infancy. From there, your power and presence begin to build at epic proportions. Meals, laundry, booger catching, appointments, story time, germ assassination, scheduling, splinter extracting, etc. You are like the “all seeing eye” in the family. The fucking emperor. The bad ass wizard that magically takes care of everyone’s emotional and physical needs.

Apparently you do a decent job or your kids wouldn’t be up your ass every minute of the day. The most mundane and trivial tasks or dilemmas are immediately directed toward you. Although one parent is located just feet from them, your child will seek out the default parent with a fiery vengeance for emergency situations such as taking apart Lego pieces or announcing the arrival of a cricket on the living room floor.

As the kids grow and public education comes in to play, the school event calendar is firmly embedded in your brain. You’ve memorized their schedule as well as if not better than your favorite 90’s tunes. Teachers are addressed by first name and you make every effort to remember to cut out those damn box tops. Everyone has become accustom to this “normalcy.” Life runs smoothly this way and to your family this is their comfort zone.

That being said, it’s ok to fly off the handle from time to time. When you lose your shit and scream loudly proclaim “THERE IS ANOTHER PARENT IN THIS HOUSE!” Nobody better give you the stink eye. I’m here to tell you that I feel you!

In the shower shaving my legs-                                                                                                                   “Mom! Can you get this knot out of my shoe?”
Umm, can I concentrate on not slitting my Achilles tendon and possibly wash the soap out of my lady bits first? What is your dad doing? Chances are he’s not indisposed at the moment. Go ask him!

Tip toeing to the laptop with intent to take the first sip of fresh hot coffee on an early Sunday morning(the spouse has already been up for an hour)…
“Mom! Whats for breakfast?”
Good morning to you too. I just woke up. Ask your dad.
He’s watching T.V
And that means he’s busy? You certainly wouldn’t want to interrupt a riveting show about ice fishing tents in North Dakota.

Butt naked in the bathroom applying sunless tanner…with the door locked!
Lock gets picked. Child bursts in.
“Mom! Where’s my soccer ball?”
WTF! Ask your Dad! I am nude! And FYI, I locked the door for a reason criminal.

Finally falling asleep after 3 hours of tossing and turning fueled by a mind that won’t stop…and then-
“Mom, I’m thirsty.”
And I’m awake now.
Who is blissfully sawing logs in bed next to me? I’ll give you a hint. It’s not the default parent!

On the phone with the dentist’s office…
“MOM! I have to go poop! Will you make sure I wipe good?” (spouse is sitting feet from me browsing Facebook)
Thanks for sharing. Have your dad help you!
“He’s on the computer.”
And I’m on the phone PRODUCTIVELY scheduling a tooth extraction!
“A what?”
Never mind…you’re four.

Our families need us. It’s obvious…clearly. There is a reason why “default mode” is a legit term in our language. Our children default to us because we have shown them that we are most readily available! I guess it’s the family’s acknowledgment that we get shit done. Are we holding on too tightly to the reigns? Geezus, someone has too!

When I take the time to reflect, deflate, and finish a glass… or two of whiskey, a few questions arise. Could this label be as a result of my incessant need to be in control? Hell yes! But I’ll never publicly admit that…ahem. Are we default parents just that bad ass? Should we change the title of “default parent” to “bad ass ninja parent?” Would that make it better? Yes, slightly, I’m not gonna lie. Pondering my current parental position, I suppose I can accept my fate. It’s all good if I need to be the Sherlock Holmes of socks and shoes, squeeze and extract the puss from numerous unexplainable boo boos, and clean up the occasional and extremely unfortunate midnight shart. This is because when all is said and done, I get recognition in the form of cuddle priority and am always the first to receive the delivery of good night kisses.

If you know what a default parent is, you probably are one and the struggle is real!

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caring mother calms a crying frustrated son

caring mother calms a crying frustrated son

About the author

Sara Pittman

Sara is from sunny San Diego CA. She is a wife, busy mother of 3 and amateur chef stumbling through organized chaos on a daily basis using sarcasm and humor to soften the blow...that's what she said. She will take any opportunity to demonstrate the running man in public and enjoys being a sarcastic smart ass.

8 Comments

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  • Makes me mad sometimes too! Especially when they past right past their dad in order to ask me a question that he could have easily answered. But you are right, I do get the first goodnight kiss or goodbye and lots of in between lovin’. A title change would also be lovley! I vote “yes” on bad ass ninja parent!

  • Girl you are so right! I am that default parent and while most of the time I dread it, I secretly LOVE it and wouldn’t have it any other way. Even now that my kids are older and thank God I don’t have to do any booger extracting, we can all have a healthy conversation and it’s quite inspiring to be the go-to parent and when they do go to me, they know I’ve got their back.

  • YEEESSS! Yes to everything you posted here, because as the default parent in my house, it infuriates me when the kids ask/request/demand for my assistance when their “other” parent, their DAD, is riiiighhht there!
    And if I’m being honest, I think my husband is a little too comfortable in his role of NOT being the default parent. Just sayin… 😉

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