Wednesday, March 6, 2013

the business of parenting

I've made no secret of the fact that I want to become a mother.  And while I don't feel ready quite yet - emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, geographically - it's on my radar, bigtime.  It's kind of like watching the weather forecast and the storm is moving toward you, slowly at first, but then picking up speed as it gets closer. 

I'm not sure when I'll be ready for that "perfect storm" of motherhood, but I know (I hope) that it's getting nearer all the time.

As I contemplate having children with Scott, and as we slowly make the preparations for that chapter of our lives, I've thought a lot about what I want that to look like.  Certainly the more surface level stuff, like how much money I want to have saved and how many children would be ideal, but more recently I've started reading and thinking and talking about how I want it to look in terms of Scott and me.  Not just our marriage (although certainly the changes that are bound to occur, too) but specifically about the division of labor in regards to the daily, hands-on work of parenting.

One of my biggest pet peeves lies in the disparity between women and men when it comes to parenthood. I am a feminist in the strongest of terms - meaning that I believe in the equality of women to men.  Many "anti-feminists" (I can't believe that that's even a thing) believe that feminists think that men and women are the same, and that's an incorrect nuance.  I believe that men and women are equal, but the fact is that there are things that I can do as a woman, that Scott cannot do as a man (giving birth being paramount among them). 

That's pretty close to where the limitations end, though.  Scott can't grow our children, he can't birth them, and he can't feed them from his body... and that's about it.

Scott and I have a very 2013 marriage.  Our financial contributions are almost exactly equal.  Our education level is almost exactly equal.  We're at work, away from home, for the same amount of hours.   He does almost 100% of the "food stuff" (grocery shopping, cooking).  We share the household cleaning duties, we do laundry together.  Our contributions to the running of our household are very, very even in the "split down the middle" sense.  I anticipate - I expect - that our contributions toward raising our children will also be very, very similar.

.Some of the best families I know have very traditional gender roles in many ways, and child-rearing falls almost exclusively to the woman (so even if the larger job of "parenting" is even, the father is the primary breadwinner and his principle duty lies in bringin' home the bacon, where the mother's principle duty lies with the children).  I am certainly not suggesting that this is wrong in any way.  The most important thing, to me, is that the parents are satisfied with their situation.

Even when both parents are satisfied, many obnoxious double standards can creep up.  If Scott and I decided that I would be the solo breadwinner, and that he would stay home with our children and not work outside the home (which, for the record, is a possibility) there would be scoffs and judgements from the world at large - and even some from my own extended family.  I can practically hear the harsh words.  If I was a stay-at-home-mother, the language would be very different, and the praise would be for Scott's skill at "providing" for us.  That's not just wrong.. it's sexist.

To reiterate: I know that traditional gender roles work for many couples, families and households... and that's lovely.  I'm thrilled that those people have found something that works so well for them.  But for me - in my family, in my household, with my children - the situation that will work best for me is a more modern, 2013 "split down the middle" arrangement.

4 comments:

  1. If there was one way to do things when you went to the bookstore and looked in the "life" section there would be one book instead of hundreds! Damn the torpedoes...do what works for you and the "h-e" double "l" to those who don't get it. Seriously.

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    1. I loved this comment. Thanks for reading.

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  2. you will be awesome parents!

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    1. Thanks Anonymous - I think so, too! :)

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