There’s a story my daughter loves to hear me tell: The day after I came home from the hospital with her big brother, my first child, I was seized by the certainty that I was about to die. I sobbed; I asked my husband: “But who will keep him in socks? Who’ll make sure he’s wearing his little socks?”
“Didn’t you think Daddy could put the socks on?” my daughter exclaims, delighted that I’d been so ridiculous.
“I wasn’t sure he’d remember,” I say, “or have enough on hand.”
New parenthood, of course, does things to your brain. But I was on to something, in my deranged, postpartum way. I should state for the record that my husband is perfectly handy with socks. Still, the parent more obsessed with the children’s hosiery is the one who’ll make sure it’s in stock. And the shouldering of that one task can cascade into responsibility for the whole assembly line of childhood. She who buys the bootees will surely buy the bottle washer, just as she’ll probably find the babysitter and pencil in the class trips. I don’t mean to say that she’ll be the one to do everything, just that she’ll make sure that most everything gets done….
I wish I could say that fathers and mothers worry in equal measure. But they don’t. Disregard what your two-career couple friends say about going 50-50.