I was thinking this weekend about a conversation I had with my mother in law when The Boy was just born. I was recounting a story that involved Juanito helping with some aspect and she made a comment about how his father never helped with any of that. “That” being taking care of his children. I wanted to say well that should have been your first indicator that he was not a spectacular father but I held my tongue. I do that every now and then, but rarely. Sadly I was told this by many women in my family. I have never really been sure what to make of it. Was I supposed to feel bad for them and how bad they had it with their lame husbands? Was I supposed to feel thankful for having a husband who gave a shit about being a father? Was I less of a mother because I’m not doing it all on my own?
So this conversation and the questions it brings always bubble to the surface when I feel conflict with Juanito. It’s a struggle to balance the house and careers and children and pets and car maintenance and home maintenance and laundry and cleaning and social lives and personal time oh and sleep. I know that just like there are times that I feel like I carry more weight than Juanito there are times that he feels that too. But I found myself having this internal dialogue while I was unloading and reloading the dishwasher for the third time in a weekend (a weekend that we ate out more often than ate in it mind you) and I thought, am I just supposed to accept this role and be thankful that he will change poopy Pull-ups (or worse poopy underwear)? Am I asking too much that he do both? And this is no reflection on Juanito and his side of load. (So don’t read into this Juanito.) I’m asking more for all the working moms. Is it too much of us to ask that the workload of maintaining house, home and family be evenly split? Are we spoiled when our husbands share the workload? Am I less of a mother and wife because he does?
Then seriously this is the thought that comes into my head. What about gay and lesbian couples? They must have to struggle with sharing workload but do they grapple with the traditional roles? How can I assume that mowing the yard is “his thing” when lesbian couples I know fight over who has to do yard work. And then what about those couples that have children? Do they have to talk it out and say “this is what I want to do and you can do this?” Do they reexamine their plan to make sure everything is covered before implementing? Because we do.
When we started this relationship so long ago I know that everything was split. Rent, closet space, cleaning, everything. I know that if it hadn’t been this way I would have bailed on the relationship a long time ago. We both went into it with this even-stevens mentality. So why should I be grateful for a husband who would get up in the middle of the night with a newborn because my MIL didn’t have that? I shouldn’t feel guilty that I can chat with friends or family while Juanito corrals The Boy. And he sure as hell doesn’t deserve a parade for washing poopy underwear.
Sometimes this adult thing sucks and the figuring it out part is exhausting.
**Side note: not sure how I’ve made the gay and lesbian population my litmus test for all things, but I find myself doing more and more these days.