Responsibility and the Ducking Thereof

I'm tired of being the responsible parent in my daughter's life. The one who makes her do her homework, and practice the piano, and clean her room, and put her laundry away.

My ex-husband signed her up for and takes her to piano lessons, but he expects me to make sure the practicing is done. Ditto for homework - he picked and paid for the private school and goes to all the award ceremonies, but the actual work part is almost always done on my watch.

He's a college instructor and despite the fact that he constantly whines about how hard he has to work and how gruelling his schedule is, he doesn't actually put in more than 35 hours a week, and sets his own schedule so he's not actually on campus more than 3 days a week (Plus he gets 2 weeks off at Christmas and almost 4 months in the summer, but I won't get into that just now). Which means that on the days she's with him, he doesn't work. He bitches about how much work he has to do, but when they're together, his schedule is free and clear. It's just the two of them, and they go hiking, kayaking, fishing, swimming, work in their garden, look after their dog, cat, rabbits and chickens. They took stained glass classes together, then built a workshop in the basement. They go out for dinner at fancy restaurants, have seasons tickets to the opera ... he treats her more like a girlfriend than a daughter, but they do a lot of cool stuff together. And I don't think she's ever cleaned her room at his house.

I'm very glad that she's being exposed to all these wonderful things, but it often makes me feel like the also-ran parent. I work 4 days a week, but can't set my own schedule, so my weekday off is devoted to laundry, grocery-shopping, and cleaning the house. Weekends are a little better, but there are 4 of us to coordinate, money's tighter, and we have other obligations. And this summer, neither Dean nor I can take vacation time.

Chickadee and her dad are heading off for 10 days at a cottage on one of the Gulf Islands this weekend, kayaks, bikes and fishing gear in tow. She'll have a ball. When she gets back, I'm entitled to an equal amount of time with her, but I have to work. So my parents are taking the kids to their place on Mayne for a week and a half. Dean and I will join them on the weekends. She'll have a ball there, too, but all the fun stuff will be courtesy of Grandma and Grandpa, not me.

I worry about how she's going to look back on her time with me when she's older. Will she feel that I didn't value her as much as her father does? That I didn't make time for her? Will she resent my pushing and prodding her to work?

The only consolation I have, and it's a small one, is that it would have been infinitely worse if her father and I had stayed together.