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Are You a Momzilla?

Sarah Preston Gorenstein

Did you read Friday’s Juggle post about SuperDads vs. Dadzillas? Well, I did, and I couldn’t help but think they were describing…um…me. It didn’t really occur to me until I read it that I might be a Momzilla. My husband helped create this monster, since he always defers to me when it comes to issues concerning Preston, but I’ve taken total control and I’m not sure it’s always the best thing for our marriage, even if I do feel it’s the best thing for our son.

I’ve written a lot about the notion of co-parenting, and how strongly I feel about it in our house—there’s no other way in my opinion. But co-parenting has come to mean I make the rules and everyone else sticks to them, including my husband. I do believe it helps to have one person “in charge” so we’re consistent in how we're raising Preston. And that person is me when it comes to parenting. After all, I’m the one spending my time reading up on the subject. I’m the one who knows when a product lands on a recall list, or when Preston is teething or sick or hurt, from the minute I see him in the morning. Not to say my husband is oblivious to these things, but let’s be honest: As a woman I am inherently more in tune to my son’s needs. Dads, please don’t hate me for saying that, I know it’s a huge generalization to make. Let’s just call it neurotic so no one gets mad. The ironic thing is, Jay is home with Preston one more day a week than I am (yes, SuperDad is home on Thursdays when we don’t have the nanny). Yet I am still the one in charge (Momzilla).

And because I’m the designated boss, I do feel it’s my area of expertise and therefore I exercise my right to make and enforce the decisions and rules we set (like I said, Jay always defers to me anyway). We both chip in on almost everything with the house and Preston, including but not limited to grocery shopping and diaper changes, though I probably put him to bed a little more than my husband does (remember, I’m a sucker for his cries), and I probably feed him more since I’m home earlier, and give him more baths. And I also do all of the clothes and toys shopping for Preston—again, since I’m the one reading up about which toys are good for his different stages of development, and also because there’s almost nothing I love more than dressing my son. However, it’s also because I want it done my way—or, rather, the way I’ve determined is best for him. (Though you should see my husband and I fight over what he’s going to wear on the weekends—it’s ridiculous!) I’m a self-diagnosed control freak, I admit it, but I think I do know what’s best for our son most of the time. So based on The Juggle article, that puts me in Momzilla territory, doesn't it?

This passage from the original Parenting article, that talks about a Nashville, Tenn. mother and her husband who bought every book on fatherhood he could find, hit particularly close to home: “He took over decorating the nursery, picked all the furniture and embellished the wall with the mural of his choice – a rugged scene from the Australian outback. And when the couple brought their new baby home, her husband’s attention to detail expanded to a near-obsession. He double-checked the temperature of every bottle, insisting that she was using the bottle-warmer wrong. He checked the car-seat straps every time his wife took the baby out. He allowed only family members to baby-sit, and set up video monitors to keep tabs on the baby every minute.”

Okay, so I’m not nearly as obsessive-compulsive as that Dadzilla, and I trust my husband with Preston, but truth be told we do have regular arguments over me questioning how he’s handling certain things with him. And when it came to designing his nursery, I did it the way I always dreamed about, taking what Jay wanted into consideration too. (I didn’t go behind his back on anything, but I stuck to my guns on the color and crib choices.) I fantasized about the nursery for months—if not years—and had a very specific idea in mind. And I’d love to say I won’t be this way with our next child, but I know I will.

I hear myself being too much of a control freak sometimes and I know how annoying it is, but it’s like I can’t help myself. I am constantly on Jay to be careful when he’s rough-housing with Preston; not only am I sick of hearing myself say “no” to Preston all the time, but I’m sick of hearing myself tell Jay to “be careful” with him. This line from The Juggle article also resonated with me: “Critical comments from mom can cause even the most interested dad to back off.” That’s a great point, and the absolute last thing I’d want to do. But since I am the appointed gatekeeper, how do you draw the line?

Now that this Momzilla has been created, how do we keep her from bossing Dad around too? I don't blame Jay for getting annoyed sometimes, but you can't blame me for taking my role as "boss" seriously either. I'd love to know who out there is a Dadzilla and who among you are Momzillas, and how do you keep this 'zilla nonsense out of your marriage?

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