Friday, October 26, 2007

Unter-Parent

Reading this essay by a woman whose husband is a better "mother" to their daughter than she is reminds me of some women I know who are married to men who completely "out-mother" them. The kids are much closer to the father than the mother whereas the stereotype demands affections be biased just the other way around. Everyone would agree that in an ideal world there would be no bias at all. The child would feel equally close to both parents.

Being that it is a less than perfect world, the scale is expected to tilt in favor of the mother. So when she feels like the redundant parent, she is filled with apprehension not to mention sadness. She wonders where and how she falls short and why her baby would prefer Dad to her. Mothering and motherhood is most synonymous with patience, selflessness and sacrifice. All of those qualities are gender-neutral. Though a woman is traditionally expected to have them in generous measures, many of us fall short.

While we may be able to execute our duties as a mother flawlessly as in making sure the kids eat healthy, dress appropriately for the weather, do their homework, are given the medicines timely when sick and are shuttled around a myriad of activities; we may be less able to nourish and nurture them emotionally. Even after doing better than best in all areas of responsibility to the child, we may still not be able to fulfill their emotional needs. Some fathers can do that quite effortlessly.

From a child's perspective, that is not such a terrible thing. Maybe there is a bit of a role reversal in the canonical sense but they still receive all that they need to thrive. As for the women who are married to super-mom husbands, they should count it a blessing. One super-mom is good enough for any child. The other parent is not redundant at all - in fact they are enablers. Without their ability to multi-task and manage the practical demands of modern life, the "super-mom" would not be able to realize their full potential as a parent. While children may not recognize that at first, more likely than not they will come to appreciate the unter-parent as they grow older.

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