Your Mom's Your Mom for Life
Big surprise. Who doesn’t know this?
But a new study has found that when a new baby comes into a dual-income, highly educated family, the mom does the majority of the extra work.
Although research discovered that neither parent did as much, on average, as they thought – four hours – moms still did two hours while dads, 40 minutes, a day.
This is not to disparage dads. My husband got up with the baby at night and rocked him and fed him (diapers, not so much).
“The birth of the child dramatically changed the division of labor in these couples,” says Jill Yavorsky, co-author of the study and doctoral student in sociology at Ohio State, at newswise.com. “What was once a relatively even division of household work no longer looked that way.”
I think that’s because we start feeling a whole different way once we have a baby. It’s like that child is still inside you and attached to your organs. Sounds kind of silly, I know. But holding and feeding and diapering my son was the same as breathing to me, in the beginning.
We spend more time, I think, because we feel responsible (at least, I did), and maybe that’s evolution working. Maybe it’s also because these little beings came out of our bodies but there’s kind of like an elastic band that never lets go when you have a child. Get too far, and it snaps. It makes something pull at me from inside.
Whenever I hear a baby crying, in a supermarket or a park, I feel this thing inside, yanking me in that direction. Thankfully, I restrain myself. (I’ve tracked more than one nearby parent down for a child.)
Once, when I was in ToysrUs, the alarm went off, meaning a child went missing. My heart literally stopped. As salespeople shut down their registers and rushed through the aisles to find him, my stomach hurt. Fortunately the child was just hiding but I never forgot how that felt, like my child was missing, too. I think I even cried, I felt so connected. Do dads feel that way?
Here’s the thing. I do believe it’s nature but I could no more walk away from my son, when he was a baby, or any baby, when he was crying than leave him out in the middle of the road. Something almost physical in its strength pulls me toward that child.
Dads don’t feel that way, I’m pretty sure. I remember my husband taking our son to the dentist out on Long Island and coming home about five hours later. “Did you get him lunch?” I asked and Larry gave me a blank look. That’s what I’m talking about.
Granted, our son is a teenager but I still worry, is he eating right? Is he taking a jacket? Should he really play soccer with a cold?
Not that dads don’t worry, too. But somehow it’s just different for moms. Maybe I feel it so keenly because I came late to motherhood. Every minute with our son seemed like a miracle, back then. I was also tired and cranky and resentful he was swallowing up my life, but it was almost something I just knew in my bones. I had to take care of him.
I remember the day he was climbing up on a car seat we’d stashed on the couch, it tipping over and his forehead smashing into the glass table. The room grew dark, his screams louder, and I ran with him to the ER. He only needed one stitch but I felt every bite of that needle.
Yes, I’m a helicopter mom. But I could no more be devastated when he’s not invited to a party than when he refuses to tie his shoelaces. (He could trip, he could get hurt!)
Anyway, now that he’s about to enter high school, those days are long gone. But I haven’t forgotten that pull, and surprisingly, how it’s still there, even when I ask how he feels, after a cold, and he answers, “The same way I felt the last time you asked me.”
Happy Mother’s Day!