The Division of Labor

Often times when I'm around other women, there is a lot of complaining about how their partners "don't do" certain things.  Clean up after dinner, cook, give baths, do bedtime, school pickups, sweep floors, fold laundry, the list goes on and on.  It's hard for me to commiserate with them because that's not how our household operates.  Sure, there are certain things that I don't do (lawn care) and that he typically doesn't (bathrooms), but that's not to say either of us wouldn't do those things. If I asked him he'd do it because that's how we work.

It's hard to say when exactly we started running our household the way we do.  I think that part of it is because I worked odd hours in retail management, and my hours were usually longer than Mark's.  He had to help out or things wouldn't get done.  If my kids waited around for me to give them baths, they'd be pretty smelly.  The other part is that we both grew up in a household with a more typical division of labor, when most the household stuff fell to our Moms, and I at least knew I didn't want to live with resentment I saw our mothers had.

There were also things that I didn't enjoy doing that were typical "wifely" duties. There was a long time that our friends and family thought that I couldn't cook because I never did.  The truth is Mark enjoys cooking much more than I do, so I let him take the wheel there.  It's not that I can't, it's that I'd rather not.  And why deprive him of what he enjoys? As the years have gone on, things have had a sort of ebb and flow to them, I recently have been doing more of the cooking, but maybe in a month, six months, a year that will change.

I feel that it's important for our kids to see that both of us take an equal part in the things that are needed around the house.  I want to raise the boys especially to be productive members of society.  You won't find me doing their laundry through their college years.  I am not going to perpetuate the stigma that men can't or won't do these things.  The same goes for our girls, they won't be depending on a man to unclog a toilet or fix their flat tires.  Eventually, I'd like to see each them able to live on their own and function as adults with minimal help from us.

This division of labor hasn't changed as much as I thought it would since I have become a stay at home mom three years ago.  I know that at least I was envisioning that I was going to be doing more of the house chores since I was now home all day.  The reality is that we still take a pretty equal part.  I've come to find out that somehow my days are eaten up and I often feel pulled in a million different directions.  When I look back on our week there are times I can't figure out what the heck we did all week.  Maybe that's life with four kids?  Maybe I need to be better at managing my time? I'm not sure.

One of the things that I love about our relationship is that even if I don't get all the typical duties done during the day when I'm home Mark never questions it.  He doesn't walk through the door and ask "what I did all day".   Possibly that is because he was on his own with the kids a fair amount of times when I was working weekends. Whatever it is, it works for us.

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