The culture has told her she's not a real mother unless she's the one getting up in the middle of the night with the baby. So her identity is inextricably linked to her actions, to doing the endless chores of parenting. Men can take it or leave it
When Moms Are Gatekeepers:
Women want their husbands to do more of the childraising — but some are having trouble letting go.
via Blogging Baby
~EDIT~ Okay, apparently I can't. Go without making a comment, that is.
The Blogging Baby folks ask: "What do you think? Are women the better nurturers? Or is it just a matter of wanting to be in control?"
Neither. For me, I really think it's internalized sexism.
I've really struggled with this. It seems that, despite my/our beliefs:
about equality, feminism/egalitaranism, how important we think it is to raise our son to be a man who loves home and family and treats people as individuals, how important we think it is to model flexible roles not limited by gender..
..the truth is when the going gets tough, I have felt like the kid is my job.
Reflecting on this, I found that I had strong default programming telling me that, no matter what else has been going on - who's been working all day, who's exhausted, who's feeling fresh - tending to the baby was my responsibility. And when World's Best Husband did some tending - got up with him while I slept, for example, which he has been happy to do - I felt like it was a really significant personal favor to me. Not like I was receiving grace, but more like I was borrowing time. Like he was covering for me.
Well, this is just stupid. Not only does this not line up with
logic or common sense
but I hasten to point out that I grew up with a STAY AT HOME DAD! My father cooked, cleaned, and did most of the caring for us, as well as working as general manager of the newspaper. (My mother was the proprieter and editor in chief.)
(This was a very unusual arrangement in the early 1960s in rural Cowpatch, PA. Believe me. None of the other Brownies had dads baking for the bake sale.)
Hmmm. It occurs to me - just this second - that my slightly unusual upbringing may be part of this programming. It may have something to do with the way I always felt closer to my dad than to my mom, always identified with him. I don't know. It also seems to be tangled up with feelings of superiority, perhaps a little mild martyr action.
Anyway, I've gotten a little better about this. You would not believe me if I told you how hard it was, how much discipline it has taken (don't be hatin') for me to leave SuperBaby with SuperDad and have a regular night off. I generally leave after my dinner but before baby's, and go hide out in the bookstore with coffee and magazines until they close.
And I come home, and everyone's intact. Of course. Nothing has burned down and no one has gone to the emergency room or the locked ward. Of course. I am a self-important ass, but a slightly-better-rested ass, and over time, perhaps a little less self-important.