Meet Megan, the Back-Up Parent

Hi there. I’m Megan Radford, aka Meg Rad. I’m a marketing exec in OKC. I’ve worked my ass off to have the career I have, and it’s an integral part of who I am. I’m also wife to my engineer husband, Chandler, and mom to our 2-year-old, Brecken (and our 10-year-old puggle, Roma).

In my house, raising our son is a 50-50 affair. Actually, scratch that — it’s more of a 60-40 affair. Most days, my husband puts in the 60% and I put in 40. Yes, you read that right.

We agreed to these terms before we even decided to start trying to have kids. I was convinced I didn’t need to be a mom, while my husband had been dreaming of fatherhood since he was a kid himself. If we were going to go down this path, he was to carry an equal load AT A MINIMUM. And he happily obliged. So far, Chandler and I have both held up our ends of this bargain. But we still fell short.

What we didn’t account for in our agreement was that society would continually push us toward gender norms assigned to our new titles of “mom” and “dad.” Sure, in our house, under our roof, our plan worked well. But there were so many ways it failed, too, which was totally unexpected. Here are a few, although future blogs will talk much more in depth about these topics:

  1. Men’s bathrooms often times don’t have changing stations in them– just the women’s do. 

  2. Our pediatrician defaults to me to answer questions about our son, even though Chandler is obviously just as involved/interested.

  3. Chandler gets praised incessantly if we’re out in public and he does basic parent responsibilities like changing a diaper. Where’s my parade? I didn’t even get that much fanfare for birthing him!

  4. Daycare calls me first when something goes wrong, even though Chandler was intentionally listed first on the application.

The more I noticed these types of things, the more I wanted to define them– and then attempt to change them– but I wasn’t sure how. No one in these scenarios had bad intentions; they were just doing what had always been done. But that doesn’t mean it’s good enough.

These types of situations started happening more frequently, and my patience for them grew thinner. It was over dinner with our good couple friends (and our two babes), that I began to define things. We were at a Halloween event for families. Chandler and Elizabeth (the wife/mom of our couple friends) had been helping the kids do all the kid things. Craig (the husband/dad) and I had been drinking. When Chandler and Elizabeth finally sat down, Craig and I were served a new round of drinks. Chandler and Elizabeth stared at their empty glasses and subsequently rolled their eyes at us. They’d been taking care of the kids, and we hadn’t even thought to request refills for them. It was in that moment I dubbed Craig and myself the “B parents,” which later became the “back-up parents.”

But it’s not unusual for a dad to be the back-up parent, now is it? In fact, that role solely explains the reason why all four situations listed above happened they way they did. Bingo. I found the problem. Women aren’t allowed to be back-up parents. (And vice versa, men aren’t allowed to be the “default” parent either.)

But what was I supposed to do about this discovery? At that time, I was working 10+ hour days at a high stress corporate job, trying to figure out what the hell I was doing as a mom, freelancing for two companies on top of my day job, breastfeeding… the list goes on. So, these thoughts just bounced around in my head. Some days they were louder than others, but they were never silent.

Fast forward a few months and I found myself unemployed. During the 3 weeks I had off between gigs, I was constantly writing down little snippets of something. Facebook posts, maybe? I really had no idea, I just knew I needed to share them somehow.

Then, suddenly, it all hit me. A blog.

So… here I am. Adding noise to the already busy “working mom blog” club. But here’s how I intend to be different, and why you should subscribe:

  1. I am an open book. No topic is off limits — and I will never sugar coat things. You can always expect realness from me.

  2. I am in no way claiming to know everything. I am very open to conversations with people who may not agree, so long as they are respectful. I’m here to learn, too.

  3. I am NOT the working mom who’s devastatingly torn between wanting to further her career and also be the most amazing, Pinterest-worthy mom out there. I am a career woman who happens to also be a mom. And I ain’t about that Pinterest life. 

  4. I am here to break down gender norms and I firmly believe that can start with redefining parenting. And yes, that means holding men accountable to 50/50 parenting.

I hope you’ll join me on this journey.


27 thoughts on “Meet Megan, the Back-Up Parent

  1. You do have a way with words! You are a great co-parent. I love your open mind and communication, keep up the good work.

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  2. I love this, Megan! I’m a stay at home mom, but completely respect working moms. And while your parenting situation is, as most would say, “unconventional”, I like it. It’s honest, it works for you guys, and Brecken is obviously wholly loved and taken care of.

    I’m not the “back-up” parent, but I am a step-parent. In that way, I can totally relate to your point of being the first contacted even though Chandler is listed first. I am listed first on everything for my stepson’s schooling, but I’m called third. I understand that to an extent, but when even my husband tried to explain to the school that it needed to be me, they said, “By default, we always call the mom first. And there’s no way to change that in our records.” What?! His mom lives 45 minutes from the school, is not even remotely involved with the school, is completely uninterested in his schoolwork/school life. I am less than five minutes away from the school, I volunteer with the PTA, and I handle all communication with his teachers. It’s beyond frustrating.

    And don’t get me started on the changing table situation! My husband actually gets excited when a store has a family restroom, because he can change our son rather than me!

    Anyway, I’m excited to learn more about your journey! I had no idea you guys had this arrangement, but I think it’s great and I’m excited to see where this blog goes!

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  3. Meg Rad I wish I would have done this 40+ years ago. But of course that was way before social media, and other factors. Keep the faith; this needs to happen. Signed A Baby Boomer who loves you.💕

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  4. I am so here for this 🙌🏻
    We do a pretty good job doing 50/50 at the house, but man outside of it is so hard. Especially like you said with school and health care.

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  5. Great blog! My husband and I also had “reverse roles” whatever that means. Working wasn’t optional for me and I was fortunate/unlucky enough to find success in a career I enjoy. Because my husband worked for himself he had greater flexibility to be the “primary parent” whatever the heck THAT means. We experienced the same blatant sexism and I struggled with working mommy guilt daily (not to mention a little bit of jealousy). Now that my kids are grown I have no regrets for doing what was best for our family and know we both have 100% in our ways.

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  6. Love love love your blog and the concept of the “back-up parent.” Absolutely agree with everything you said about gender norms and assumptions we make about couples and co-parenting. Can’t wait to read future posts!

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