Married Woman; Single Mom

single mom but married woman- Parenting resources by ZenParent

Did you start to smile the moment you read the title? Did you realise that is exactly what you are? Did you begin to understand the strange contradictions in  your life that often make you wonder whether you are 'co-parenting' or 'solo parenting'?

Welcome to the dismaying discovery: you are a married woman but a single mom. The good news is that you are not alone. Thousands of women across the world fit into the same category without even realising it.

Let's understand this phrase a little better though, because ideally, this article should be of greater use to our decent, caring, wonderful male readers, more than to the female ones. Many men who inadvertently end up making their wives single moms are not all uncaring villains. Nor should they simply be dismissed as unfeeling, chauvinistic louts. Many – probably most – of them are not that at all. One cannot doubt their intent, or their inherent desire to be fully involved in parenting.

But what come in the way are generations of socialisation and years and years of genetic conditioning. What that ends up doing is making the most basic everyday parenting tasks a ‘given’ for the woman, but an ‘ask’ from the man.

mom takes care of baby without much help from father- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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The mother will rub her sleep-laden eyes in the middle of the night, and nudge her husband, and ask, “Could you do the diaper change? I am dead”. A mother will open the school diary and say, “Oh there is a PTM this Saturday, can you make it?” A mother will rush out for a personal appointment, but stop at the door to say, “I may not be back in time, should I tell you where the food is? Could you give baby lunch?” The moment a man starts to believe that these ‘requests’ are natural, and he has the right to say ‘yes’ or ‘no’, he has abdicated his role as a parent. He is now playing a ‘supporting’ role.

The moment a couple start to think that it's okay for the mother to constantly inform and update the father, and it's okay for the father to acquiesce sometimes, and refuse at others, we see the beginning of the problem. The truth is that many fathers – and obviously I am generalizing here – behave like affectionate uncles or brothers or grandparents. I know that sounds silly when said like that but think about it. What is the fundamental difference between uncles, siblings, grandparents and parents? The former can always do their bit and then choose to “log out”. A parent can never “log out”. A parent can never say, “I have done enough”. Parents don’t pat themselves on the back and say “See how helpful I have been today, there, let me switch my halo on.”

When a father even begins to think like that, he has turned his wife into a single mom. Maybe a single mom with a lot of support available when asked for, but she is definitely no longer co-parenting. Before she calls you, she could call her best friend or her mom or her nanny. You are then one of several solid options. But for a moment think – is there an alternative for her? Can anyone simply replace her? Can you? If not, then she is a single mom.

mom takes more care of kids than father- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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It doesn’t matter whether both parents work, or one does, or neither do because their rich uncle left them an estate. The point here is not about gender role divisions, nor about equally shared responsibilities. It is about the automatic assumption that the mother will be the one to know, and she will then tell the father what needs to be done. Inherently, that is a problem because it instantly puts the title of primary caregiver exclusively on the mother’s head.

Naturally, we are heading into a problem area now. If both start to take decisions, won’t that lead to a train wreck eventually? Both parents can’t organise food, study schedules, outings and extra curricular classes surely? There will be utter chaos and the child will end up as a tug of war rope. Right?

no support for moms from husband while parenting-Parenting resources by ZenParent

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Right. However, there are a hundred different things that go on in a child’s life, aren’t there? Does the mother have to organise them all? How about parent number one takes over all things food and fun related, and parent number two takes over all things school and clothing related? Parent one consults, updates and informs parent two on his or her turf matters, and vice versa.

This is just a random example. If it appears too structured and military, one can arrive at any other simpler, more fluid or chaotic mess if that works for you as a couple.

What is important is to question some cemented patterns: is it always the mother who knows when one runs out of Fruit Loops? Is it always the mother who takes the tiffin box and the diary out of the school bag? Is it the mother who knows what the last class project was?

Also, equally importantly for the mother (and male readers, do highlight these lines for your sakes): is there ANYTHING that the mother has the luxury of not knowing about? She gives that to you, doesn’t she? The privilege of ignorance about quite a few things related to the child’s everyday life.

kids are more dependent on moms- Parenting resources by ZenParent

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Do you return that favour?

Can she ever say to a friend: “I have no idea what shirt size my son wears, my husband buys his clothes.”

If she can, then give yourself a hearty round of applause… Oh no, Wait. Don’t. That is exactly what we are trying to change here. Let's take that as a given shall we? And not call it a cause for applause?

Read another article by Riya to find out if you're a career woman with a child or a mom with a job!

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