Captain, My Captain

Love & Sex 11

Disparate parenting relationshipsNo one ever asked me to be the primary parent when my husband started traveling. It was a fair and obvious assumption since I was the one still at home and he was the one away for long periods of time. I'm a work-at-home mom (WAHM) whose contributions are necessary to our overall household income, but I'm home, nonetheless.

However, I don't think it's fair and obvious to assume that I remain the primary parent when my husband is home.

And yet, after three or so years of this lifestyle, that's very much the case.

As much as I try to integrate my husband back into our existence, if he doesn't participate, then there's not much that I can do.

Now, it's not as if he sits around and does nothing all day long. Compared to some husbands and dads, he's extremely active.

But there seems to be this understanding on his part that certain aspects of his participation are somehow optional -- a gift or an extra benefit. And oftentimes, they are on his terms and not necessarily mine.

Take the morning routine when he's home, for example, which generally involves me getting up with the kids, making them breakfast, and settling them in before attempting to do a bit of work before the day starts. He'll come down 30 minutes to an hour later, make his coffee, and then sit or play with the kids for awhile.

He assumes that because I get up with them every day, that the days when he is home shouldn't be any different.

There are other times later on in the day when the same sort of thing happens. He'll go off to mow the lawn or wash the car, quite often at a time when it's lunch or naptime, or some sort of point where managing all three kids gets to be a bit challenging and I could use the extra hands.

On one hand, it's hard to complain when he's actually doing something constructive; on the other, I'd much rather have him help me with naptime than drive around in a freshly washed car.

No matter how many times I ask or remind him, the disparity in our parenting roles is obvious. He'll kick in to help more, but it's still like he's doing something extra -- you know, working overtime as opposed to it being part of his regular job description.

I often wonder what it's like to be him -- to always having someone around to help him. And I wonder if he knows what it's like to be me -- to always be the captain of the ship.

Don't get me wrong, I love sailing. But even the smell of the sea and the wind in your hair can get old, especially when you're always the one driving the ship.


Image via Flickr/Rachaelvoorhees

love, marriage


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hotic... hoticedcoffee

Oh, so well said!  I do think, for the most part, women are the default parent and men see themselves as per-diem support staff.   I shoot daggers at my husband when I catch him sitting at the table reading the morning paper while I struggle to get the kids dressed and fed and out the door. If the daggers don't work, I hiss in his ear that his happiness is VERY dependent on me getting some immediate assistance.  He always seems so disappointed that he's been called to the front lines.

kelli... kelli0585

I'm gonna get whacked in the head for this. . . . .


But perhaps his lackadaisical attitude is derived from the fact that you are complaining about him to the world on a blog that you've insultingly titled The *sometimes* Single Mom.  Ouch. 

If I were a husband that worked away from home to support my family, and my wife garners attention from that by writing a blog to the world to gain sympathy, praise, "understanding," whatever. . . . .I'd probably feel a little beat down.  Why bother?  Might as well give you fuel for the fire.  

Now, I don't know your family situation.  All I know is what you write on here.  But have you stopped to reflect on that?  While there's nothing wrong with kvetching a little bit, do you think that by writing the public blog, that you are doing good for the relationship between you two?  Why don't you talk to HIM first? 

Then again. . .I might be talking out of my bum, because I've never had a husband. 


MomIWant MomIWant

I really enjoy your blog!

nonmember avatar Beth from SJ

I strongly disagree w/ kellio - I love that you voice your reality of a sometimes single mom because so many moms have been there, but felt alone in our feelings. I used to constantly say "for all practical purposes I'm a single mom" during a time in my family when I was well, a sometimes single mom. You sharing your experiences is validation for those in the same situation, thanks!

TruthfulMommy Beck

@ Kristen,

Stay strong. I know its hard! I know its hard to have to handle everything on your own and believe me I know that it makes me want to spit nails when the Big Guy comes home and sits on his ass. Its a lot of work to remind him that he has responsibilities too. He is willing to do them but after a week of living the single life, it takes an adjustment. I'm sure if you try speaking him when you are not upset about something he's done or not done, the two of you can get everything out. I have learned that speaking when I am calm goes much further than yelling when I am annoyed:)Happy Mothering!

TruthfulMommy Beck


You most certainly are speaking out of your bum.If you have no experience with this situation, best to keep your mouth and tiny brain closed.Don't speak of that you know NOTHING about! First of all, I too am a sometimes single Mom because even though I am happily married to a great man for the past 11 years, this effing economy has had other plans and he works out of state.

Second,I blog too. You know why we blog about the situation? Because it is our outlet. Do you know how hard it is to be the one left home to take care of EVERYTHING? Look, when you marry a man and have his children..beign single and alone most of the time is certainly NOT what is signed up for. You have some balls to attack Kristen.

The bottom line is men are creatures of habit,they get used to being let off the hook and then they expect it. My husband will do whatever he thinks I need him to do but after living all week by himself, sometimes he has to be reminded that he is not the babysitter or some visiting relative. He is my partner, my husband, their Daddy!


nonmember avatar Issa

I think that no matter how great a dad and women just think differently. Also? He knows you will take care of it. Because you will. It's a double edged sword. You want him to do more when home, but he's so used to not doing it, he doesn't even think about it.

nonmember avatar Korinthia Klein

My husband just returned from a year long deployment in Iraq, and the adjustment is difficult. It's hard to explain to people who haven't experienced something like it why it isn't all happiness and rainbows. My kids are 8, 6 and 3, and I'm used to making all the decisions for them and my family alone. It's stressful, but changing a routine even for the better can be stressful in a different way.

I don't think there is anything insulting about the term 'sometimes single mom' because it merely describes a reality. To pretend I was functioning as anything other than a single parent while my husband was deployed is silly.

wildf... wildflowers25

I agree with the above posters.  It's hard to get help from a husband who is gone a lot and when he is home doesn't think to help out.  At least I would hope that is the problem.  Mine isn't gone as much as yours but he does have a lot of time at work.  When he is home, I also get the feeling that the work is still all mine.  He has clocked out and should be able to do what he wants.  When I do get the help, I feel like it's a favor I'm getting. 

I don't think your blog name is insulting at all.  It is a fact.  I take strong exception to a man using his wife's blog as an excuse not to help with his children.  That comment was insulting all the way around, made even more so coming from someone who has not been married.


kelli... kelli0585

"Tiny brain?"

Good one.

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