"Now stay in bed and go to sleep," my husband, Bill, said as he hugged our 3-year-old son, Davey, good night. "If you don't, I'm gonna talk in my troll voice all day tomorrow." I smiled with pity at this poor, deluded man. Several times a night, Davey had been getting up to look at books. I had spent fruitless hours reasoning with him. No way could Bill's threat make a difference, especially since Davey found his troll-under-the-bridge act more funny than scary.
But that night, Davey didn't get up once. In the morning he ran around crowing that he'd won and the troll couldn't come. Bill, unlike me, must have known that Davey needed to turn staying in bed into a game. Of course I was grateful.
I was also just the tiniest bit jealous. Why hadn't I been the one with the great insight? Why couldn't I talk like a troll?
It's comforting to know that I'm not the only mom who's had such moments. Plenty of us admit to everything from mild envy to full-blown resentment of our mates' parenting skills. And that makes us feel ungrateful: After all, we finally have something that mothers have wanted for generations: an extra pair of hands.
Today's dads spend 21.7 hours a week on childcare and related duties like shopping and housework, up 9 hours from 30 years ago, according to research by the University of Maryland. Which isn't to say that moms still don't handle the vast majority of kid-linked tasks -- a whopping 39 hours weekly. Still, our guys are doing more than their dads did. Fathers clip tiny toenails and baby-food coupons. They read bedtime stories and clothing labels. And while some of our own dads had no clue about how to change a diaper, our kids' dads often have fierce opinions on Luvs versus Huggies.
We moms say we want our spouses to be do-it-all dads: We're forward-thinking women of the 21st century. Besides, if they did less, we couldn't possibly juggle our busy lives without going nuts.
"But we don't want them to take over," says Pyper Davis, a mother of two in Washington, DC. "We don't ever want to be pushed off that throne of being Mommy."