The mother worrier?

imgres-1There was a great editorial in the NYTimes this week named Mom:  The Designated Worrier.  The author 

I do believe that there is more of a shared parenting situation that has taken place over the past few decades.  It is refreshing to see.  More men staying home is one that feels good.  Yet there is always one person who has eyes in the back of their head and a head exploding with the details that need to get done.

I remember a few times that Fred wasn’t paying attention to the kids not out of anything but not thinking.  The time that Emily came down the water slide and he wasn’t exactly right there when she ended.  Our brains think differently.  I was never a worrier but more of someone hyper aware of what had to get done.  He is the worrier.  Worrying has never been part of my DNA.  I think it is a waste of time.  You only create angst by worrying about something you have zero control over.

What does happen is that once you have children with someone that roles begin to take place.  Both of you can’t be ordering the weekly groceries, making sure the kids after school activities are booked.  One person has to take the rein.  Then as time moves forward you start to fall into separate responsibilities around the house.

I would be fully shocked if I came home one day and Fred had prepared a meal for the family.  It just wouldn’t happen.  I took that under my wing a long time ago.  Roles are good.  It makes for great partnerships.  Setting them up from the beginning is important.  Getting lines crossed and blurred can create frustration and resentment.  Truth is, it is like a company, everyone plays a part and roles become more defined as the business grows.

It is interesting seeing our younger friends get married and have kids.  They are the next generation and the lines are more blurred but at the end of the day the roles become defined.  You just have to be happy with your job description.  Someone has to be the organizer, someone has to execute, someone has to worry, someone has to pay the bills, someone has to etc, etc.  Just be clear who has what covered.

Comments (Archived):

  1. drmarasmith

    I love this – and its so true. We have four kids, very close in age and our roles have been fluid and flexible over the years. Marriage and parenting is not a checklist or a even division of specific work. Charles Murray said that a marriage at an “earlier” stage in life is a like a startup , you will have memories of your life together when it was all still up in the air. You’ll remember the years when you went from being scared newcomers to the point at which you realized you are going to make it. In my small observations – people that get married later are more like merger marriages and seem more inclined to blur those line you talk about.(blanket generalization) Trying to control things you can’t is a colossal waste of time. I believe flexibility in thinking is a highly underrated life skill and one of the most important in being a happy, healthy mom.

    1. Gotham Gal

      totally agree with you!

    2. Sherry Abdou

      Love the points you’ve made here in particular ‘I believe flexibility in thinking is a highly underrated life skill’ – AMEN to that! This blog is my most favorite read because I love the fruitful insights of its readers – it truly expands my thinking. Thank you!

  2. NicholeSmaglick

    Thanks for posting this! We researched the heck out of this before launching Cooper & Kid (a lifestyle brand for dads). I concur with what Judith wrote for the most part, Yet there are big changes afoot and bigger ones coming down the pipeline. Men are ‘worrying’ in the domestic realm more because they are looking to add value in a world where women don’t ‘need’ them as much. It’s still not 50/50, but times they are a changin’.

    1. Gotham Gal

      Times are a changin

  3. pointsnfigures


  4. Mario Cantin

    Very, very true.At the onset, I told my wife, “I’ll share any other tasks you want me to, but I’m not doing the laundry; we’re burning the clothes first”. I used to bring mostly everything to the dry cleaner before meeting her.She had a shortlist of her own of things she never wanted to have to think about, and so we have had a working arrangement ever since.

  5. AMT Editorial Staff

    First, with respect to last paragraph of “someone has to…” What about the “fun.” I’ve found that one person also tends to be more the “fun” person. Not totally, just more. In our family, it’s the person who doesn’t do most of the organizing, bill paying, meal prep. Second, I LOVE this: “You only create angst by worrying about something you have zero control over.” YES! A hundred times. I find the flip side of this ability to compartmentalize is that “worry” does happen over details and daily minutiae…like meal preparation, grocery lists, calls to be made…