|Playing dress-up. I did like the outfit!|
Just to make things clear, my fiancee is every bit a "manly man." He's into cars, football, and golf. He eats red meat, and does all the stuff around the house related to tools. He is very confident in his masculinity, comfortable enough that he doesn't feel threatened by wearing the cook's apron. He also always takes out the trash. And I do the laundry.
The division of housework we've somehow fallen into works out pretty well for us. My fiancee doesn't feel in anyway emasculated by doing the dishes and the cooking, a well-ordered kitchen is something he takes pride in. I take a strange satisfaction pulling globs of hair from uncooperating drains, and none of our friends or family members seem to think that this sort of division is in any way strange. We're a modern family, I guess you could say.
|The Boys, making turkey ruebens with homemade dressing.|
Because of our home dynamic, my fiancee and I have decided that when we have a child, (which is still a few years off) he will be a stay-at-home dad. I don't feel that I have it in me to be the stay-at-home mom type, I'm afraid I'd go stir-crazy. I know that while I'd likely be able to do a passable job at full-time parenting and keeping a house, my fiancee would be far, far better at it. Being a stay-home dad is something my fiancee is genuinely excited about, while to me it feels like kind of a chore. And we are very happy with our decision.
So imagine my surprise when I started telling people about our plan. Reactions ranged from condescending to pity to shock. I was told by one friend that maybe I shouldn't have children if that was how I felt. "Some people just aren't cut out to have kids, maybe you're just one of those." I was told that men lack the innate ability to nurture a child the way a mother can. People questioned both my mothering instinct, and my fiancee's masculinity. Somehow I was less of a woman, and he was less of a man. I was very surprised, especially since I thought that it was now considered to be socially acceptable to have a working mom or a stay-home dad. Families are doing it every day, all across America.
What I finally realized, was that it is okay to do things this way, but not by choice. Men are only supposed to be the ones to stay home with the kids if that's just the way things worked out. Unemployment, finances, a career that is impossible to break from for the wife. Women are allowed to go to work, but there has to be the same justification. Then it's okay, because everyone knows that in a perfect world things wouldn't have to be this way. People are less likely to look down on you when they feel free to pity you. The problem with the scenario my fiancee and I have dreamed up in other people's eyes is that we're happy about it. We are choosing this way of child-rearing, and strategically planning to make it a reality.
It's not that I am uninterested in my home, or the prospect of raising a child. I'm very home-oriented and family oriented. I do take a lot of pride in our house, it has been a labor of love over the past year. I absolutely love being second mom to my nephew, he brings so much joy into my life. When my fiancee and I do have a baby, I'd like to take about a year of maternity leave, if we can swing it. I just don't want to have to feel tied into the homemaker role, especially when I am lucky enough to have found a man who is not only willing to do it, but excited.
It's still a ways away. I have to finish grad school, we have to do that whole wedding thing, and we'll likely take a few years for ourselves. I'd like to think that maybe by then, when my husband is pushing little Charlotte or Jacob on the swings at the park and I'm sitting on a bench making last-minute revisions to a proposal, the other parents will not look over and say "poor man, poor child, bad mother," but rather "they look so happy..."