“Did you just take the plate I left on the table?” I looked over my shoulder at my wife. As she’s putting dishes into the sink, I can see her looking around for more things to add to the dishwasher.

“The white one?…I thought you were finished with it?” she keeps moving, adding more to the dishwasher in a distracted way. I take a deep breath. Sigh. And then take another plate out of the cabinet. I’m pretty sure I grumbled a bit and managed to huff at the same time. I think of this as multi-tasking a pouty face, eye-roll and ‘pure’ attitude. These are skills my spouse has identified as critical when I am acting on my ‘Princess’ tendencies…that is a story for another time though.

“I wasn’t finished with it. I put it out for breakfast.” I placed the new plate I’m holding on the table and start pulling breakfast out of the fridge, bumping into Sharlene as we reach for the same container.

“I gave her some Cheez-it’s already (please no judgments), I was going to give her the leftover chicken.” she responds. We look at each other and say in the next breath, “Double-Mom-ing!”

Double-Mom-ing is the way we have come to describe an event where we are doing the same parenting task, at the same time, without realizing it. This usually happens when we are both on auto-pilot and simply trying to get through the normal routine of parenting and work. Rather than fight, we’ve consciously and often unconsciously agreed to laugh it off and move on with our busy day.

As a clinical social worker, I can’t help but overanalyze how we use this term. During a recent conversation with a work colleague, we candidly discussed how we put aside ‘being a couple’ while parenting young children. It’s a bit of a shock going from ‘a couple’ to having everything revolve around the physical, financial and emotional needs of your children. She laughed it off and said I hope that when this part is over, we’ll remember what we liked about each other. I agree!

Sharlene and I have recently started to add to our family collection of parenting terminology. The other day we realized we had both given our son different answers to the same question, which is not a new experience. Rather than the usual rant (mostly in my head), we gave each other the same look as when we ‘Double-Mom’ and identified the “Cross-Mom-ing”. I believe this is when we both have made a decision without speaking with one another and cross the other parents decision.

I will freely admit to using the “Under-Mom-ing”. Let me create the picture of why I would come to the decision to ‘undermine’ a decision my spouse has made. It’s a late Saturday morning and we are splitting up to make a Stop & Shop and Home Depot run. I lay out our daughter’s outfit, solid purple with a white and purple flower pattern throughout the shirt. I put on her purple and gray sneakers before I go upstairs to finish dressing. As I come back down the stairs, Sharlene is finishing two pony-tails with bright YELLOW scrunchies.

This is a critical moment in our day. I have two options in this situation. One, comment on the yellow pony-tail holders and suggest we change the color. Or two, let it go, it’s just a shopping trip. Past experience has taught me that Shar is not receptive to feedback about outfit choices and color coordination, which naturally include hair ties. I have decided that the battle is not worth it.

It’s not until I’m in the car, buckling Sage into her car seat that I recognize and execute option number three… the “Under-Mom!” As Sharlene, pulls her car out of the garage, I quickly pull out the white hair ties I snuck in my pocket on the way out of the house, and change her hair ties with my back to her car. I quickly close the door, smiling and waving good bye.

It’s not until later that evening, as we are cleaning up before bed when Sharlene comments, “You know, I saw you changing her pony-tail holders as I pulled out of the driveway.” I turn my back to hide my smile. It’s not that I think undermining my spouse is okay, but there are some times when you have to make a critical decision. I put my foot down at the yellow hair ties!

Parenting is tough enough. Finding small ways and new words to manage our lives can be both important and fun.

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