So, a few months ago, Robb and I more-or-less switched places.
For the past few years, I’ve been working while he started our business. Now, he’s working to support our bread habit, and I’m working part-time and running the business, being with the kids more, and *writing (see also: not writing). I’m not actually making the ice cream for our small ice cream business like he was (we have a great staff of cooks for that now), so I’m kinda/sorta able to do all this other stuff. I’m way more involved in the day-to-day with the kids- like I had the distinct pleasure of taking 4 (four) seven year-olds on a field trip to a nature center last week where 4 out of 4 of them farted and screamed the whole way there and back. I’m also dealing with house stuff and managing our affairs and buying the things and *cleaning (see also: not cleaning).
All couples have to negotiate the duties of life (heheh, yeah, I said that), and we’ve re-negotiated these a bunch of times. Here we’re doing it again. Laundry detail, grocery shopping, meal planning, house cleaning, kid decisions and maintenance, social planning, bill paying, etc, etc. Over the past few years, Robb’s taken on a lot more of all of that while he’s been home/more flexible. He got pretty good at all of it, and was glad to do it most days. In retrospect, I was probably never as grateful as I should have been, never aware enough of all the things he was managing without my knowledge, never entirely clear on all he’d taken from my to-do list. I was often jealous of his freedoms and bitter for having to be the money-maker.
I’ve written before about how complicated it was for me to have my spouse not making money, and how worried I was about not making money myself, as far as ego and identity go. It’s been easier than I thought- I’m really happy doing all that I’m doing at present, and we’re doing OK figuring out what jobs should land on whom. I’m less calloused and bitter than I was, and generally in a better state of mind. Not exclusively related to this transition (therapy, antidepressants, exercise, chocolate), and I’m not taking it for granted as a static state, but I’m thrilled for the peace and contentment at present.
I’m aware we have major luxury that we can rotate like this. That we don’t both have to work full-time just to exist. That we have benefits, that we have a comfortable home, healthy kids, all of it. This is a huge privilege, that we’re both able to do work that supports us, and able (and willing) to do the work that needs to be done at home. If anyone is reading this and thinking that my husband is giving up man points or is some sort of unicorn miracle for not making the money all the time, and for taking care of the house and the kids and such………sigh to both. He’s good stuff because he’s him, but what he’s done shouldn’t be an outlier. This is what partnership should be like, to me, regardless of sex. I’m proud that we can bend a long way without breaking. We’re supporting each other in all the things we need to do, and it feels dynamic and secure, like this union really has the potential to work (and less like one of us will stab the other one on some stabby sort of afternoon someday).
So, for everyone who’s been the HOME one, and everyone who’s been the WORK one, dudes- it’s hard and weird and bitter and insecure on both sides sometimes.
Here are some things I’ve thought about being home this past week:
- Hahaha, wow. I’m not very domestic. All laundry goes in together on hot….right?
- Why do we have 7 bags of onions, but none toilet paper??
- Don’t look at me with that voice! What did YOU do today?
- I just really want to do a good job, but FUCK YOU if you don’t think I’m doing a good job
- (Am I doing a good job?)
- If the kids are awesome-you’re welcome, I did that.
- If the kids are rotten- it’s the moon cycle.
- Why do they expect to eat so many meals every week? I swear we just had dinner yesterday.
- These ARE my good yoga pants because they only have the paint on them and not the mystery stain. NOT blood! (Is it blood?)
- Whatever I’m doing, I’m wondering what else I should be doing. I am learning to just keep the list going and not panic, and not feel crushed by it most days.
- Joy, damnit. We’re finding joy, we’re making it. More drop to the ground hugs for the short people. More finished cups of hot coffee. More sex!(!!!!) I’m finally floating instead of drowning, and we’re all better for it.
(Thank you for your patience. Blogging has fallen off as I’ve been working on my novel- fiction, but guess what? It’s about marriage and a surly tall woman trying to make herself the person she wants to be in her late 30’s….so…yeah…I’m taking a class that is pushing me to finish my novel in 10 weeks (eek! puke). BUT I am brewing some bloggy thoughts on trying to be (gulp) sexy at this stage of life, marriage, kids, and an essay I’m making Robb write on being a male feminist who sits around bitching about men with his wife. )