This may be an unpopular position these days, but I’m really okay with gender roles in a marriage. I’m at an age where I don’t have to adopt the prevailing position anymore. I can say unpopular things and people just look at me and nod in that “well, she’s old” kind of way.
I read a thing on Facebook today (amazing how many conversations start with those words these days, isn’t it?) about a guy who did the dishes and then patiently explained to his friend why that is not “helping his wife.” Why doing laundry, and cooking, and cleaning the house is not “helping his wife.” Because he lives there too. He eats too, and dirties dishes, and dirties clothes. So doing all those things is just a natural part of living in the household. It’s called “being a partner.”
Yes! I thought, as I read it. Yes. Absolutely. That’s right. Why is taking care of your kids “babysitting” instead of fathering? (This has been a pet peeve of mine for years.) When a mom takes care of her kids it is never babysitting. Why do dads call it babysitting when they “have” to take care of the kids? Same with household chores. It’s their house too, right? Wifey isn’t the only one who drops crumbs from the tortilla chips on the carpet, dude. For sure.
But in the back of my mind a thought kept floating around, just out of reach, so I sat down and shushed all the little crazies that were jumping up and down and doing fist pumps because someone – some guy – had finally recognized that he shouldn’t necessarily expect high praise from wifey every time he vacuumed the living room. And that little floaty thought came into focus.
Whenever I weed whack the yard, or mow, or trim, I kinda wait expectantly for a little of that high praise to come my way.
Whenever I wash my car (my own car, not his truck, because I never wash his truck), I kinda hope he’ll notice and thank me for sparing him that chore (the chore of washing my car).
I never pay attention to when my car might need servicing. He takes care of that.
I never trim the trees that constitute the jungle growing up the driveway so that they don’t scratch – again – my car as I drive up and down every day.
I never take the tractor out and work for hours in the heat and humidity leveling the quarter mile road that is our driveway to fill in the gullies the latest thunderstorm made.
And I never – or at least very rarely – heap lavish praise on him for doing All. Those. Things. And all the other things he does to keep our home up and running.
So you know what? I’m okay with our gender roles. I’m okay with doing most of the housework (although he does pitch in sometimes, and I do appreciate it when he does). I’m okay doing the cooking. I’m okay doing most of the grocery shopping and laundry and etc. etc. etc. (I’m especially okay taking care of the kids, since, you know, they’re both in their 30’s, married, and out of the house. Can you say low maintenance? At least for me. I can’t speak for their wives.)
To the guy who wrote the FB post about not “helping” his wife but being her partner: I think you’re awesome. I do. I love what you wrote. But in my particular marriage, being a partner means I (mostly) do a certain set of chores, and he (mostly) does a different set of chores, because those chores are the ones we are best equipped to do well. I’m a better cook than he is (except he does make a mean frozen pizza). He’s a waaaaaay better mechanic than I am (case in point: he asked me to bring him wire snippers yesterday, and I came back with three different things because, really, what????). I have my gifts, he has his. Together we make an awesome team. And everything gets done. Most of the time.
But it’s still not babysitting when dad watches the kids.