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Mad at Dad


33% of moms say their husbands aren't shouldering equal responsibility and are less concerned than they are about their children's basic needs, like nutrition and clothing -- a number that rises to 41 percent for those with three or more kids. What these moms wish: that their husbands acted more like partners -- especially when it comes to the nitty-gritty.

Andrea, a mom of three who lives on Long Island, NY, comes home from work to find her husband has let the kids snack at 5 P.M. instead of giving them a real dinner, though she's repeatedly asked him to just go ahead and feed them. Or he has tried to feed them but has served something they won't eat, like a "bloody wedge of meat on a plate" with no side dishes. Then, after the kids have brushed their teeth for bedtime, they complain of hunger ("Of course they're hungry!"), so he gives them more snacks. "And then who has to oversee the rebrushing of teeth while my husband is off watching TV? I do."

Terry's husband, she says, never thinks about what the kids should be eating when he does the grocery shopping. "I cannot remember once -- not once -- that my husband bought fresh fruit or vegetables, let alone prepared them, for our three children. Now that I think of it, I don't think he's ever spontaneously bought any frozen vegetables, either."

Nearly one third of moms complain that parenthood has changed their lives more than their husbands'. We carry so much of this life-altering responsibility in our heads: the doctors' appointments, the shoe sizes, the details about the kids' friends. Many dads wouldn't even think to buy valentines for the class, for example, or know when it's time to sign kids up for the pre-camp physical, or that curriculum night is next Thursday at 7:30 and you need to hire a sitter and bring a nut-free vegetarian appetizer that can be eaten without a fork. Even moms who work full-time take it upon themselves to store all this data in our already overstuffed heads. We're the walking, talking encyclopedias of family life, while dads tend to be more like brochures.

It's no wonder that more than one in four moms feels like she spends more mental energy on parenting than dads do. Meanwhile, the thing that would help -- some time off -- seems like it disproportionately goes to dads.