working parent

I Don’t Believe In Gender Roles—Unless They Are Convenient For Me

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shutterstock_162670547It took my husband until our second kid before we decided to split baby duty and housework right down the middle. After all, it’s only fair. We both work at home together 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We both work the same amount, so we should both share in the daily grunt work.

This sounds noble, but I honestly started out my marriage with more “traditional,” imbalanced gender roles passed down from my parents. My husband was in the same boat: Both of our moms were stay-at-home moms in Christian communities in the 80s and 90s. As you can imagine, they did the majority of childrearing, cooking, and housework. The 1950s called, and they want June Cleaver back.

So, when I got married I just assumed that women should do more of the “womanly” stuff at home. It wasn’t until I had kids and started questioning our parental balance, as well as reading and writing for Mommyish, that I realized “something ain’t right.”

My husband has always been on board and openly proclaims that we are equal partners, but I was the one who was resistant. I felt uncomfortable and somewhat worthless if I didn’t live up to this mom expectation passed down from 30 years ago. I felt like I wouldn’t be a good enough wife and mother if I didn’t do the majority of the cooking and cleaning—that is, until I was totally burned out caring for kids and working all day long, on top of everything else.

I decided to grow a pair and set some personal boundaries. I decided to challenge myself and choose to share the majority of our family tasks 50/50 with my husband because we are equal partners, after all. The transition was positive, though it wasn’t necessarily easy on me emotionally. Now my husband and I are equal co-parents, with a few exceptions.

There are still gender roles my husband and I embrace at home out of convenience. We have a Google calendar for all of our daily chores split down the middle because ain’t nobody got time for that. But I still do the majority of cooking and grocery shopping for the week to make sure we always have something on hand for dinner. I like that role for myself, and I don’t mind doing it. My husband is happy to cook whenever I ask—though his forte is more stereotypical grilling and cooking complex dishes, as I hate following recipes.

On the other side of the coin, more stereotypes abound. My husband still does all the yard work because it’s hard, and I don’t want to. He also manages our money not because I’m bad at math, but because I grew up with serious money issues passed down from my parents that give me anxiety. He maintains our car for the most part because every time I end up at Discount Tire, I get sold some kind of super-bonus-plus auto care package.

So, there you have it. I firmly believe my husband and I are in a modern marriage. We have made a commitment to share all aspects of parenting equally. But there are still some gender roles that exist because they work better for my family. I’m all for an equal partnership, but I don’t want to mow the lawn.