Saturday, August 21, 2010

A Single Mom with a Husband...?

I was watching the Today Show the other morning, as I do every morning before Rory wakes up. There was a woman on there talking about gender roles changing lately. (And rightfully so!) She was talking about how a woman she knew described her life as being a "full time working single mom with a husband." What she meant was she worked full time and still did 90% of the housework, child rearing, meals, disicpline, bed time, baths, etc.

And that got me thinking.

There was definitely a time, at the beginning of Rory's life, where I felt that way. I was exhausted, resentful and not at all satisfied with the division of labor around this household.

Want to guess who's fault it really was? I'll give you a hint. Not Dave.

I wasn't asking him to help. I was just taking charge because I was way more comfortable around babies than he was. Why did I view that as a bad thing? It's certainly not! I just happened to have 2 cousins born when I was 12 and 15 so I had the opportunity to take care of babies. Of course I'd be more comfortable. I was assuming all the duties because it was easier to do it myself than to a) teach Dave b) watch him get frustrated and c) deal with his nerves. None of those things are bad. I don't know why I ultimately decided that I would be "in charge" during that portion of Rory's life.

It took me a good 2 months to realize if I was going to ever have a "normal" life, I needed to relinquish control and share Rory's needs with Dave. And guess what! She lived!! :) He learned that it was okay to guess your way through some things, like when to nap or if it's snacktime and I learned that Dave really desired to be an involved, active Dad. When I let him take control, he took to it like a fish to water. It was ME that was putting the pressure on myself to be the "super mom," not Dave. I backed off, he stepped in and now Rory has 2 parents who make joint decisions on her upbringing.

I wouldn't say our division of labor is 50-50, I don't think anyone's ever is. I do tend to do a little more, only because it comes naturally to me. I also don't have a lot of friends, so there's not much for me to do other than work and be with Rory. Dave is a big time golfer so in the summer, we work that in to our schedule. We aren't perfect yet and I'm sure there will be another period of unharmonious living when Trace arrives. But you better believe it won't be because I'm doing it all myself and over exerting myself.

One area we are working on lately is the fact that I do need some time to myself. We both work full time and we both need time, every few weeks, for ourselves. In the summer, he works WAY harder than I do, 10 hours days at least. It's only fair then that he gets a little down time when he gets home. That's just obvious. Around the recital and registration, I'm the one working the most so I get to pass off a bed time or meal time every once in a while to regroup. It works for us and that's what matters.

I had lots of people ask me when Rory was born if I was going to close the studio to stay at home with her.

Um. No.

Let me explain why I could never be a stay at home mom. First off, my mom worked my entire life growing up and loved it. She was an elementary teacher until I was 10, then started her own ministry business. I really valued her role as a working mom in mine and my sister's life. She demonstrated to us that women can be 100% responsible for their own financial needs, set and achieve lofty goals and still be a fantastic mom to their kids. (Not to say stay at home moms don't make the same contributions, of course!) Every woman in my family works while raising kids. I can't really see any of us giving up our careers for our family OR giving up our families for our careers. We make it work.

I crave creative outlets. I am incapable of scrapbooking (it's true! omg it's so true!) and I don't play an instrument anymore. I dance. I need to be creating dance, creating art in the form of dance, every day. Music comes on and my toes get to tapping without me even realizing it. I am at my happiest when I am dancing and creating dance for my students. I thrive on the adrenaline that comes from performance, even that of others, and would never be a happy version of myself without dance.

I also crave the challenges of owning a business. I enjoy the thrill of conquering challenges and problems. I enjoy putting the pieces together to make a recital happen. I admit that I am addicted to the "stress" of running a business. I need that challenge in my life.

Could I find creative outlets at home and challenges at home? Of course I could. Do I want to? Nope. I want to be a working mom because it's what works for me. I'll continue doing it until it doesn't work anymore. At that time, both Dave and I will reasses our situations and figure it out TOGETHER. You never know...he might become a stay at home Dad someday! :)


Anonymous said...

I think I will need to re-read this post after I give birth as I already have a tendency to just take control and get mad when my husband "isn't helping" (when really, I'm not letting him). Great reminder!!

Laura said...

As I read the first few paragraphs, before you said it, I was thinking all "I bet the women doesn't LET her husband help." I've seen it plenty of times. I learned early on to let Mike just do it his way... and his way is ok too. It's great because now he doesn't have a problem with me leaving him with the kids for a few days at a time if I need to. I can leave the house without having to run through the list of things I would have to tell a babysitter. Sure it can be hard to not go back and fix that little bump in Liza's hair when Mike puts a phony in it... but you know what... I can fix the bump and deflate my husbands ego and he will never do it again or I can leave it and praise him and thank him and he will want to pitch in even more. It's not a manipulation thing. It's just a love thing. :)

Melissa said...

TOTALLY understand the creative outlet need! Your passion for dance is like mine for theatre & my husband's for music. I do want to be a stay-at-home mom, but theatre (unfortunately) is not my career. It's all volunteer work, in the evenings. So i don't do it as much now that i am married b/c i miss my husband too much! Not sure how much theatre i can do once kids come along, but the good thing about theatre is you can pick a show & do that & then take a break for a few months or years or whatever you want! So i guess as long as i get my theatre fix every once in awhile, i'll be ok! HA!

It'll be interesting to see how brad is around babies! I know he'll be a great daddy, but it's not like he's ever babysat before... LOL.