Our Valentine’s/ Family Day (real thing in Ontario) was definitely subpar, considering Wildflower and myself were horizontal for most of it. Flu-stricken and bedridden is how we spent the majority of the day made for lovers, and Family Day (yes,I’m not kidding) was spent in much the same fashion only with less jumping out of bed. It’s during times like these, when I am forced to turn off the outside world, forced to move slowly, and appreciate simplicity, that I realize how wonderful my life is. I know my life is grand, but sometimes, a little extra love goes a long way in helping me appreciate what I have. I witnessed, from my bed, in a semi-conscious state, the way my partner speaks to our crew, the way he cares for them when I am not around; not to mention, I have freshly folded laundry in my drawers this morning, and I didn’t do one load of laundry this weekend. In a world where our roles are no longer defined by our genders, it can still feel tricky without very clear lines deciding which chores and expectations belong to which partner. One can easily say duties should be spilt 50/50, but with so many variables, what does that really look like? In the beginning, we thought it would be simple– whoever had the best job would be the parent to go to work, but very quickly, I realized that I wanted to stay. So now that Papa Bear is our bread winner, the one who ventures into the world everyday, it’s apparent that my responsibilities are centred around home. I manage the bulk of the homeschooling and the chores inside of our house, while he tends to those on the outside. On our property, that list is currently about five years long, and those are just the realistic goals. This is not to say that we don’t occasionally team up, swap, work out alternate systems, or stand around a take photos… but we tend to fall into these roles because they are supported by our strengths. Lets face it, I haven’t touched a lawnmower since I moved out of my mother’s house, and I’m not ashamed to admit it. As much as I’m learning about some of Papa Bear’s trades, most of the build it, repair it jobs, even those involving crazy glue (long story) are his. He never makes me feel badly about those things. He never whines that I won’t partake in my share of his duties. In a household that strays from stereotypes and social norms, it often surprises me that we have followed these traditional male/female roles. How is it that I, myself, the believer in equality, am the first one to protest my chore list, until I realize, that perhaps it is my expectations of my husband that are most unfair, since I can’t expect him to take on half of my work in addition to the list of his own that he can barely manage, the way the world expects ‘a good man’ to do.
My work, does not have an 8-5 day. I don’t get scheduled lunch breaks, and I certainly don’t get to leave my job at the end of the day, so I’d be lying if I wasn’t occasionally resentful that he is entitled to these things, but then, I come to my senses and remember that this is what I asked for. This is what I longed for. It doesn’t make it easy, but I do know that I am fortunate to be here, at home, with our children. I know that I am putting in the long hours for our own benefit, and not someone else’s. I’m the woman on the home front, and we are a team. I, generally, in some way, get to see the product of my sweat equity. My work is HARD, and at the end of the day, my feet are often so tired that I have to stop before I’m finished. It’s not only back- breaking, but also emotionally exhausting; however, this also means that the rewards that I reap are that much greater. This is where I get to insert all that stuff about being the one our children will remember being around, knowing how deeply they love me, and witnessing their daily growth and progress, and I am so grateful for what he has sacrificed in order for me to have this. Not to mention, as our children grow, my showers become longer; they don’t have to fall in-between the confines of my commute, my family, and my workplace. I can pour myself a cup of coffee, and I can tell my ‘co-workers’ to wait just-a-second if they don’t want me to lose it. When they are busy, I can even take time to learn a new skill, read a book, have tea with supportive friends, or sew. I have the creative license over our daily life, and I can see that these are things that aren’t so easy for him to miss out on.
Although there clearly are benefits, it is difficult to leave the system that previous generations have carved out for us. Some traditions are habit forming because they worked for the majority of the people while others are rooted solely in oppression. Women with choices are a new breed because, let’s face it, things still are not ‘equal’, and the world is still waking up to this fact. (Ladies…it’s still not equal!) But that’s a post for a different day. Feminism plays an invaluable role in our world, and contrary to many people’s beliefs, its is not interchangeable with burning bras (although I have considered it), protesting crudely, and turning men into boys. This would be doing a great dishonour to women as a whole. Feminism is meant to create an equilibrium– a balance of the majestic, nurturing, sensual feminine energy, and the strong, level, protective, masculine energy. So we’ve gotta support each other, respect and value each other’s strengths and fill in the gaps with our own talents. Which in our case sometimes looks a little like Papa Bear taking on last week’s laundry, and myself lending my hand to this summer project…gulp.
Wish us luck,