Last weekend was Father’s Day, a time to celebrate the “fun parent” with gifts, grilling, and giggles galore! I am blessed to have a fiance who not only financially provides but also emotionally supports and encourages our son as he grows bigger and smarter every day. We have gotten to a point where we appreciate the roles each of us play, but we were not (and sometimes still aren’t) always at that point. Most days he physically works 10 hours or more, outside in the heat and elements. Everyday, I parent my son from when he wakes up to when he goes to bed and do all the homemaker duties. So how do you figure out who workers harder?
The most common thing couples argue about is money, and we are no exception. The biggest, and most difficult, transition for me was letting go of the physical reward of money in my job…because, yes, being a mom is a job. There have been studies on comparing working hours of a mom to that of her husband, but I don’t want to get into tit for tat. In fact, that’s exactly the mentality I wish we could all get away from.
It’s not about the money…
First of all, when we compare a man working outside the home, earning a fixed wage, and performing an expected list of job responsibilities… to a woman staying at home, performing chores, raising children, and not receiving an income…we are comparing apples to oranges. Literally, my fiance and I have argued until we are blue in the face about who “works harder” or who has more of a right to be tired. To no avail, we are both right and we are both wrong. I had previously convinced myself that I was the one capable of understanding his job more (as I had worked in management at one point) then he could ever understand mine… so I HAD to be right. And I somewhat resented the fact that I wasn’t contributing financially, as I had always been able to do. Turns out, when you take money out of the equation you end up with a family unit that naturally separates and assigns all the necessary duties to the ones most qualified for each task. Not to get too national geographic, but there are still societies that function like this in Africa and South America. I highly recommend the movie The Gods Must Be Crazy if you are interested! It’s old, but it’s funny and educational. Anyways…
The only thing that remains the same is change…
So when you have kids, all these preconceived notions of what your life needs to be like should disappear, but they don’t. We are hard wired to think certain things. For example, the pressure on both boys and girls to get a college degree and find a high paying job sets half of us up for failure right from the get go. We have a societal expectation that we HAVE to have more then just our needs met on daily basis…even though that is near impossible on minimum wage. And we have so much accessibility to any and every opinion in the world that it’s overwhelming trying to figure out where the line is, if you crossed it, or if you’re just walking like a failed sobriety test because there’s too many options to choose from. Ugh! We, including myself, have so much trouble acknowledging and adjusting for change in our lives it’s no wonder we all need coffee to function and 100 likes to feel good about ourselves. A major life event, like having children, DOES change everything, especially your plans and expectations for yourself! We can accept and embrace our new roles, or only acknowledge and fight them. Consider the phrase, “a new chapter in your life”. When you start a new chapter in a book, you know everything that has previously happened up until that point, but you have no knowledge (and generally no expectation) for what is to come. Put that concept to practice in a real world setting and you have a created a beautiful new path for yourself to follow.
It’s a personal family choice….
So, lets be straight up. Little people are hard fricken work. There is no right way to do it all… so mom might as well mow the grass once and a while and dad can do the dishes. It really doesn’t matter because every family is different and every family has to find what works for them. I have come to terms with the fact that my life is about my kids. Yes, I take care of myself for my own mental stability; but ultimately it’s for them. Some families have working moms and stay at home dad’s, while others require both parents to work full time. I have mom friends who are home-schoolers on top of everything else…while I’m sitting over here looking forward to the break public school provides. What works for our family unit may not work for others’.
We all work for ice cream….
The bottom line is that we cannot base our family off of others’. I am committing myself to focusing on what I can do in my role right now that will have a positive affect on the family as a whole. Honestly, it doesn’t work if you’re not in it together. 10 years down the road you won’t remember that this weeks paycheck was a little short and you couldn’t pay for the cable bill…but you will remember how (since you couldn’t watch TV) the family took a spontaneous road trip to try out a new ice cream place… that now is the only place you get your ice cream! Win 🙂 Ultimately, how can we decide who works harder, when everything each parent does is a necessary contribution that affects the whole family? We can’t…and we shouldn’t. Modern day society, particularly, seems to put more emphasis on how we can improve ourselves as individuals, rather then improve our relationships with those who can help us thrive in the long run. If you have the same goal (in my case, to raise a happy and healthy family), then ALL work is equal; equal in pay, equal in hours, and equal in family.
To my amazing future husband, I love you more then cake 💓