Bad Mum

Magazine

18 May 2018

There's nothing lucky about it (but I sure am grateful!)


I am lucky to have my partner, he is (mostly) wonderful. Where I refuse to say I’m lucky is he does do the laundry and gets the changing bag ready- all by himself-  if he takes our daughter out, which he often does. I am not the lucky one, we all are- the three of us: to be able to build and lead this life together, as a family. To have two parents share responsibility for our daughter and be able to follow our separate career dreams: that’s fortunate. Oh, and the result of some careful thought and planning. So, the aim is: our daughter will grow up knowing her worth and capabilities are not defined by gender, seeing both parents do the housework and chores and -more importantly- doing other things that bring them joy. 



Don’t get me wrong, we do not lead an insta-perfect life. When our daughter arrived and we were thrown in to parenthood, we had ALL the fights about the empty cups next to the dishwasher and nappy bags left on the floor. But he listened- because it was me that gave much more of a damn- and we’ve agreed to work towards the blatantly-totally-impossible-but-we-all-strive-for-it-balance as best we can. Again, I don’t think I’m lucky to have a partner who listens: I’m grateful, sure, but that should be the expectation, right?

Interestingly, since we’ve been figuring this all out, we’ve noticed people generally ask me what our daughter eats, when she naps, if she needs something... All that daily life stuff. When there are two parents in the room (who both know the answers). No wonder so many women are frazzled from the mental load- even when you’re working it out within your relationship, society puts that expectation on you. Unthinkingly. And I guess that’s the issue: many people are not thinking about this.

And hell, it’s a lot of work, doing all the thinking, talking and implementing. I haven’t even managed to write the weekly chores schedule, so he has something to work from (we still have a fair amount of him asking me what needs doing). Ideally, of course, I wouldn’t need to write the schedule. We’re pragmatic though and have acknowledged I have different standards and we do things differently. He’s more oblivious but is happy- after some ‘discussion’- to meet my requirements when he’s on the childcare shift. A project manager for years, a task-list is what he needs and I’ve accepted that.

That’s not because I subscribe to the bullshit notion that we (women) should be judged on the upkeep of our home. If you are happy to ignore the mess then I am- honestly- envious of you. It simply makes me crazy when there is crap everywhere or when the sides are dirty. And nobody wants me in that frame of mind. Nobody. I don’t like it tidy because I am a woman- I like it tidy because I like it tidy. This way, with my partner keeping it neater than he might normally do, we can both work when we are not looking after our child. He can work, whatever but appreciates I find it more difficult. The result: we have a probably-tidier-than-most-homes-with-a-one-year-old-house and- thankfully- a relationship where I’m not harbouring loads of resentments about ‘having’ to do it all.

Hey, it’s not perfect yet, it’s very much a work-in-progress. But when, actually ever, is life not a work-in-progress? By doing this work now, when our daughter is young, we hope to help our daughter learn she can be whatever she wants, do whatever she wants to do and still have a clean and tidy house (if she wants one). If she chooses to be with a man, or woman, or a person not identifying as either, she’ll have a positive model of how to build a relationship, life and home based on respect and collaboration, rather than society’s expectations or binary definitions of gender. I am really bloody grateful for that.

Written by Holly @nolessthanskies

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