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Why Does the Shitty Stuff Fall on Moms?

Photograph by Twenty20

This past June was my son AJ's, 5th birthday. Unlike last year when he was young enough for us to bypass a bank account-draining party and hightail it to Disneyland (no savings there at a cringe-worthy $600), this year there was no getting around it.

AJ's dad (my now ex-husband) and I had to bite the bullet and throw one of those "invite the whole class" fiestas that take more planning than a wedding. Please note, I've never had a wedding because I abhor planning parties.

On top of this extravaganza, it was also time to figure out and finalize three months worth of camp arrangements for both kids. This involved hours of dreaded online research, back-and-forth emails with every mom on the planet, hefty deposits and—if you apply for financial aid—more paperwork than taxes. (Speaking of taxes, for the first time in 20 years, I owed a shit load of dough.) June sucked. I was overwhelmed. And like clockwork, when it comes to child admin and life planning, wouldn't you know, it fell on me, the mom. Like always.

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I mentioned to my son's dad, "I can't deal. I hate planning birthday parties. Can you please do it?" If you've planned kids' birthdays, you know that "do it" means: pop open a laptop and make an Evite. Press send. Hop on Amazon, order some party shit. Investigate a cheap food situation. Order a cake (I had already done this). I also had already found a party venue and put down my $250 deposit. I was quickly informed by said baby daddy (there are two) something along the lines of, "There's something wrong with you, this is your job, you're supposed to enjoy doing this, this is what mom's DO."

WTF.

"Wrong with me? My job? What moms do? Enjoy this?" As if it was a gender-specific genetic predisposition to enjoy scouring the web.

I don't see why it should all fall on me, simply because of the fact that I am a "mom."

No, I don't enjoy sifting through pages on Amazon for the right color paper napkins and sourcing toxic party favors from China. I don't love comparing the prices of Ralph's chicken nugget party platters vs. Domino's pizza. And while we are on all the things that men/dads "assume" is our "nature" to do, let me list the other things that I feel zero genetic predisposition toward "handling."

  1. Making doctor appointments
  2. Researching camps, schools, tutors and after school programs
  3. Going to parent nights at school
  4. Scheduling play dates and sleepovers
  5. Staying perfectly on top of vaccinations, forms, passports and dental appointments
  6. Overseeing extracurriculars
  7. Shuttling kids around like a personal Uber driver

The list goes on but, you get my point.

"#changeme but don't change me," illustration by Emily Wagner

It is not that I don't find joy in taking care of my children and over-seeing the things that nurture, structure and enhance their lives. But I don't see why it should all fall on me, simply because of the fact that I am a "mom." My belief about parenthood is that all duties are shared duties.

I refuse to accept the excuse: "But women are natural nurturers."

The only gender-defined difference when it comes to the tasks of raising a child is that I have tits that squirt live-giving milk after the baby pops out, and for a little, I clearly have the master role. (Don't get me started on moms who are not able to nurse, in which case bottle duty is a shared affair). After that, it's a free-for-all. I refuse to accept the excuse: "But women are natural nurturers." So this is why I am the one to have to take a day off of work to get my kids' teeth cleaned?

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So why are moms the default on all this maintenance crap? It's a time suck that takes us away from making money to feed our kids. Why is a dad incapable of taking the lead, effortlessly? I call bullshit on this. I think they are just lazy and terrified of coming face-to-face with their own incompetence in this area.

Why am I a "shitty mom" for expressing that child admin is an equal opportunity for all. Or are some dads shitty for assuming it's our natural duty?

You tell me. ( I know my answer).

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