This morning while I was on my way out the door, my 3-year old grabbed a tangerine off of the tabletop and took it to my husband. I was busy putting the last items in my bag, ready to say my goodbyes and walk out the door when I heard my husband say, “Go ask your mom.” If I had been in the kitchen, this might have made sense, but I wasn’t. I was far from the kitchen, fully dressed and on my way to work.
“Go ask your mom.” If I had a dollar for every time I’ve heard a man utter that phrase throughout my life, I would own a fucking island with a vacation resort called “I DON’T FUCKING CARE.”
Growing up, I never remember a single moment when my dad decided anything. I was always referred to my mom. If she wasn’t home, I’d have to call her. If she wasn’t available and it wasn’t urgent, I’d have to wait until she got home. If she wasn’t available and it was “urgent” (i.e., “Dad, can I ride my bike to Sally’s house? My friends are outside.”), my dad would hesitantly give me the go-ahead with one stipulation: Check with your mom as soon as you can reach her.
My mom ran the show and the schedules. She managed the appointments: doctor’s appointments, vet appointments, orthodontist appointments, dentist appointments, hair appointments, eye appointments.
She managed the events: conferences, volleyball matches, basketball games, track meets, baseball games, hockey matches, speech performances, music competitions, band and choir concerts, swim lessons, dance lessons, sports camps, theme days during homecoming, field trips, dances, holiday breaks.
She managed our family: folding the laundry, planning the meals, cleaning the rooms, filling all of our closets with clothes and shoes that fit, filling the cabinets with the healthiest versions of the food we liked, and making sure we were as happy as possible.
And on top of all of that, she worked a full-time job.
If she cringed the same way I do when I hear any dad tell their kids to go ask their mom, I could never tell. She made it look easy, natural. I’m sure several moms did and still do. But I’m not one of those moms.
Why do dads insist on coming in hot with the “go ask your mom” daditude? What are their intentions? Are they good? Do they even know? Should we be flattered? Should we feel insulted? Is it our fault? Were they raised that way too?
It’s hard to say, but I’ve come up with a few theories:
1. Your time is just more important than mine.
Let’s talk about the tangerine for a second. I was on my way out of the door so I could be at work on time, while my husband was getting dressed in a rush because he overslept. Now, maybe he didn’t even think about why he said it; maybe he just said it.
And I get it, he didn’t have time to peel the orange and engage in a conversation with our toddler-by-night/detective-by-day. He was running behind, and he couldn’t afford to be late — but apparently I could. Yes, please send the kid to me because — shit — I’m not trying to be on time for work or anything important. That would just be silly. What is time, anyway?
2. I have enabled you to the point of no return.
“Hello? Is there anyone in there?!” Are you following some sort of “If no, then…/If yes, then…” chart that always points to “Go ask your mom”? Do I manage your life at home so perfectly that you have literally stopped using your brain when our kids direct any type of request toward you. So much so, that rather than simply thinking through what our child is asking (peel the tangerine and hand it back to me) and simply doing it, you immediately relay the default response to all questions asked by anyone under 4-feet tall. “Go ask your mom.” Like, hello?! There’s no degree or certification you’re missing here. You can literally jump in at any time.
3. I am a terrifying Demogorgon and have no idea.
Sometimes, after listening to my husband tell my kids to “go ask mom” a handful of times in one hour, I begin to wonder if maybe, in reality, I’m a terrifying Demogorgon that only my husband can see (I’m looking at you, Will, in Stranger Things).
Hear me out: It could make sense, you guys! If I knew someone/something could tear me to shreds and eat me alive, I’d probably avoid drawing attention to myself too. I mean, toddlers would obviously be off-limits, drawing attention to themselves is, like, the one thing they’re universally good at.
4. You think you’re empowering me?
When I brought this to my friend’s attention, she said, “To be fair, all that tells you is you really do hold all the power.” What I think she meant to say was what it really tells me is that I hold all the responsibility at home.
Power is not deciding what my kids eat, whether they can leave the house without a coat, or if they get to watch a movie on a school night. That is responsibility. There’s really no power play at home, just two stakeholders. I could see how one might think trusting one person with 99% of the responsibility might be empowering. I mean, shitty bosses do it all of the time, so you’re not exactly alone, but the keyword there is “shitty.” I appreciate you, but please make it stop.