Strong woman, soft mother

My wife is a do-er. She’s handy with tools, she can carry heavy things, and she always gets asked to help when there’s a building project or when someone’s moving. I used to be that person, too. When my wife and I moved in together we enlisted no help – together, we moved in every piece of furniture, every appliance, every box, by ourselves. We also fixed up our home together. I did as much sanding and painting as she did.

But when we became parents, I ended up taking on (or being given) the role of default parent. I love the role because it means that I’ve been the first person Avery asks for and comes to, but the problem with that role is that it supercedes the roles of helper-outer, heavy-lifter, project-maker, etc. I no longer get asked to help with things because it’s assumed that I’m busy with Avery. Or it’s assumed that I’m too “soft” because I’m a mom (which is the most ass backwards logic ever).

Is this just happening to me, or do other primary caregivers experience this shift in how people see them as well?

15 thoughts on “Strong woman, soft mother

    • Haha he asks people to ask you?? That’s kind of awesome from a gender-stereotype-busting perspective. Does he then take on the primary child caregiver role, or has your mothering role actually made people perceive you as STRONGER?


      • My younger kid wants daddy all the time and the older one wants only me! So yes, in the morning he does the getting breakfast ready , packing boxes and ironing work clothes, i must say he does most of the heavy caregiver role in the morning, while in the evening, its always whoever is free(we do adult classes/ activities during the weekends so most evenings only 1 parent is home) does it.

        Mothering has actually made people perceive me as the softie in the house, which my husband gladly corrects. I get asked for craft projects or recipes and I tell them to ask my husband! He is an amazing cook, I cook to survive.

        Liked by 1 person

  1. I can so relate to this. It happened to me, too. It’s really only recently that I’ve been back to being handy and undertaking projects. I’m still overlooked sometimes—like when my wife texted my dad to install our new porch light—but I just marched out there and did it before she got home from work!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. My husband has always done more of the hands on kind of stuff, but I was raised to know how to use power tools and make minor repairs to things myself. My dad always said I shouldn’t rely on finding a partner to do those things for me. So before kids I was always about as hands on as my husband was. Hell, the two of us stripped and then re-roofed an entire 2500 square foot roof of a house together one summer. But now with H being around, I’m like you and I’m the default parent and I’m not really asked to help out with things anymore. My husband had a great idea of building out our back deck this summer and we thought that because there was a big backyard to play in and a kid pool and tons of toys, that I would be able to help out with the deck building and H would be content to play solo. Foolish of us to think that because H ended up insisting that I play with him and his dad do the building and every time I tried to help, I got about five minutes in and demands for mommy to do something would come. So now we have a half built deck because my husband only seems capable of finishing projects when I’m in there with a hammer or drill as well.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh I can so relate to that! Anytime I’m enlisted to help when it’s just me, my wife, and kid, Avery comes to me for everything and I get interrupted so much that I’m no help at all.


  3. I’d suggest it isn’t a ‘physical strength’ call but an assumption about your not having free time with a young child to care for/watch. You could also see it as acknowledgement that as a student you also have limited free time just like any other full employed person. (This would be positive as many people think students are only busy during formal class hours; not true but a common perception.)
    Best way to counter is to take turns with your wife in showing up for such events/projects. But, please, not at the cost of not writing here. THANK YOU!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. We’ve actually kind of had the opposite problem. I’ve always been the heavy lifter/handywoman. After birth, I also became the primary caregiver. And now I’m still the “muscles” in the relationship. This has often left my wife feeling a little bit like she doesn’t add anything to the picture, which is totally untrue, but it adds to the whole parental-preference tension. (She makes more money, cleans the house, does the dishes, inspires us with her athletic endeavors, etc.) The problem was also compounded when she wasn’t able to get pregnant, feeling like she couldn’t fill any role. But now I’m unloading a whole lot of baggage here…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I can totally get where she’s coming from (only because it’s the same for my wife, but for us it’s different roles that we each excel at). My wife has a harder time with the parental preference stuff because I also cook all our meals and clean our house and clothes… But I see it as her bringing home the bacon and fixing everything that’s broken, and being an awesome parent despite being second preference. If only we could see ourselves through the eyes of those who love us!

      Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s