Boys can clean too. ;)

Asa just fell asleep, Jeff and Vera are off to pick up the milk and go to get some chicken coop supplies, and here I am in the precious, precious quiet. I’ve got my cup of coffee. I’ve got a little space to write. Reset.

This morning was intense. Kids were tense- Vera is definitely a little stressed and we’re working out some 2 year old stuff with her. It’s normal and I’m not worried in the slightest, but the NOISE sometimes is just so overstimulating. When you’ve got an infant fussing and a 2 year old screaming for mama and papa to stop talking, or give her raisins, or now she wants an egg- but just from Papa, or because she wants milk milk milk and can’t deal with the fact that I told her to wait… it’s just. Phew! Then Jeff or I start to lose it, but thankfully never at the same time. I’m just really glad to have him home right now. I’m wondering how I’m going to pull some of this stuff off on my own after he goes back to work. I’ve got a couple of weeks, so I’ll try not to stress about it yet, but man… I’ve said to him "How am I going to do this?" and he’s like "Uuuh, yeah. I don’t know." At least when I do pull it off, he’ll be impressed, and I’m pretty sure he won’t give me any crap if the house is a wreck at the end of the day or if I haven’t managed to cook and need his help. If there’s one thing I can say for Jeff, it’s that he really sees what I do. I feel really blessed in that area, and I won’t take it for granted. We both know when the other needs help, and when we can’t see it, we ask for help and generally receive it.


Actually, this seems to be something I hear about a lot recently. I know so many women out there, with and without kids, who’s partners don’t seem to get it. Even really great, feminist guys, who I really respect, who seem to be stuck in these meaningless gender roles when it comes to caring for the home/kids. There are lots of men that I hear about who work a normal work week (which is surely tiring), but then feel as if they’ve paid their dues and that’s where the work ends. Their time off means no more work… or because they make money, their work is somehow more valuable. Or when they do do something around the house, it’s worthy of more praise than normal because it’s above and beyond what they feel is their responsibility. They don’t necessarily say this, but their actions (or more like inaction) is indicative of this value. This is so strange to me, because now that I’m a homemaker/mother/what-have-you, I don’t really get time off. It just doesn’t exist like that for me anymore. I get "breaks", I get to relax here and there, but there’s no designated time for me to check out and do whatever I want. That’s fine with me, I’ve realized that’s life- and it’s the life I want. It’s full of stuff that actually matters. It took a little adjusting to think differently about it all, but it’s a good thing. Jeff went ahead and adjusted with me, even though he’s still got a day job. Plus, when he gets home he readily admits that he likely did far less work* than I did all day, and that my role of keeping our house in order and feeding us all and nurturing our kid is a super valuable thing to him.
Anyway, we’ve chosen "traditional" roles- where I’m mostly home and he’s going to work every day. I suppose those roles were established at one time because women were best equipped to raise young children and the men were off doing things that required their manly attributes… but last I checked none of the men I know were defending the home from any attackers, and I haven’t seen Jeff spear a buffalo once. I assume those roles stuck through the years because of sexism- women had no rights/education/etc., so who else would work outside the home but the men? And the home still needed caring for anyway. And of course, women were risking a lot to demand more from the men in their lives, because how would they take care of themselves otherwise? But now this stuff is just outdated, and I feel so surprised when I hear about these men who check out when it comes to pulling their weight. I hate to hear that a friend has asked her partner to do really simple stuff and it’s like pulling teeth.
I guess I’ve been lucky in a couple of respects. My parents, for one, who did have very traditional roles. My mom stayed home with the four of us, and my parents even believe in the whole "man is the head of the household" thing, and my mom obeys him and stuff if it comes down to it. That’s not the way that Jeff and I do things, but I can’t say that I don’t respect my parent’s choice because it seems to work for them. My dad has done the laundry for as long as I can remember, and he almost always hand washes all the dishes after dinner (even though they have a dishwasher… he’s quirky). He also vacuums a fair amount. I dunno. I’m sure there are ways in which my mom probably wanted more help from him and didn’t get it, but ultimately I think he was a good "head of household" in that he sincerely looked for ways to contribute and I think made an effort to help out with some of this stuff. And then on Jeff’s end, he had a mother who was the primary "bread winner", and I think he grew up knowing how hard his mom worked (working all day long and then coming home and making dinner, cleaning, taking care of all the kids… she’s incredible and I don’t know how she did it). Jeff really takes initiative around here, and doesn’t give me any crap when I ask him to do something either. And vice versa. We just try to work together.
Anyway, I was thinking about this because I had a friend come over recently who is in a pretty traditional relationship. I don’t know this for sure, but I’d guess that it’s a "man is head of household" kind of arrangement. I’m almost positive it is, actually. Anyway, no judgment from my end, but she came in to find Jeff scrubbing the toilet. She said "Oh my gosh, what a good guy!!! Scrubbing the toilet!" and turned to me with an impressed look on her face. I said "I know! He’s a keeper." or something like that. But there’s a part of me that, while I love singing Jeff’s praises, is disappointed that it’s seemingly such a rarity. Many of my women friends take note of things that Jeff does around here, like he’s doing something extraordinary and I’m all super lucky. I think it’s great, and he’s deserving of the notice. But it should also be normal, I think, to be loved by your partner through service.

*For those who don’t know, Jeff works as a cashier/change relief guy for the downtown parking system. Basically, he’s one of the guys in the booths, and when he’s not in a booth he’s running change to other cashiers.

Anyway, I say all this knowing that people do what works for them, and that each relationship is different. I don’t mean to generalize, either, I just don’t like hearing so often that my friends aren’t feeling the support they so deserve. I’m also just excited to raise a couple of little people who get to see mama working outside and papa scrubbing a toilet here and there. I feel really happy to have the family that I do, and while we’re not perfect, we’re gonna keep working at it together.


(photo credit to the lovely [info]unicorntapestry , taken when she visited last week)

Gracie
Gracie

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Comments (25)

  1. ladyfaith3

    Tim and have a mostly traditional family life. He works and I do most everything else. most of the time this works beautifully…but not always.

    Reply
  2. muirichinnahali

    We get a lot of semi-shocked comments about the things Myles does around the house too. Sometimes it still surprises me to hear it because I can’t imagine having it any other way, haha! We both definitely pull our share with the household duties. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I totally agree. It’s just so normal, but when people act like he’s this angelic thing I start to wonder if I’m not appreciative enough. Then I realize that we are both just being good partners to each other, and that’s just healthy. What do we get if we start to idolize what should be the norm? I think we likely get a new and less healthy norm, and a bunch of men who are somewhat entitled and less willing to contribute…

      Reply
  3. impeccablyme

    Yup, totally feel you on all of this.

    Our situation is a bit different, because I’m trying to play the role of a full-time stay-at-home mom while also working part time and going to school part time. It’s a very full plate, but I love it. Ty is a wonderfully supportive partner, and while he works an average of 50 hours a week, he pulls his weight around the house, too. He helps with the cooking, the cleaning, the yard work, and of course the baby care responsibilities.

    He regularly shows/speaks his appreciation for everything I’m doing, and I try to remember to do the same for him. I hear the same thing from friends, that I’m “lucky” and that these characteristics are somehow rare in men. I do count myself very fortunate for having such a great partner, but I think a relatively equal distribution of labor (whether we’re talking paid work or not!) should be the norm, not some awe-inspiring exception.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Sounds like you two have a really functional and happy relationship! I’m glad you know what I’m talking about- it really should just be normal, and appreciated for just being healthy, not extraordinary. 🙂

      Reply
  4. pagangoat

    love this entry. feeling too braindead to write a coherent comment, but I am slightly envious right now. I can’t really even imagine kris scrubbing a toilet…and the last time he made me something to eat was a couple of times in the first few days after eilidh was born. I sometimes worry about the gender-role examples that eilidh will see growing up…because you’re absolutely right, a more equal share *should* be the norm. But it’s not, or at least not anywhere around here. Even in families where both parents work full time, the mom still comes home and does all the traditional wifely/motherly duties, and the guy drinks beer, watches/plays sports, video games, etc. There’s the odd exception, but few and far between in my community.

    hope everything is going great, it sounds like you at least had a little time to power up today, which is pretty necessary:)

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Yeah, I wondered if you had thoughts on this. I remember when one of your friends (although I use the term “friend” loosely) was telling you that you better change what you were doing or else you were going to lose Kris, etc. It was over something really stupid and out of your control, and thankfully you had the good sense not to listen to her. This is really sad to me, because the reinforcement of those values ends up being perpetuated by women also, like your friend, who are likely pretty unhappy with the arrangement. But there’s fear, there’s stigma, it’s just tough to conquer in some communities.
      You seem like a really strong woman who knows that she deserves more support than she gets. Do you feel like the community keeps him from rising to meet those needs? I know there are more issues at hand, but I can’t help but wonder what he’d do if his community was more admiring of a man who took on those responsibilities (thereby seeing your requests as an opportunity to be a good guy, rather than nagging, etc.). What do you think?

      Reply
      1. pagangoat

        yeah, that would be my sister-in-law…I try not to listen to much of what she has to say, because it’s mainly negative.
        I think that community/family plays a role, for sure. I wish it were different, but it is what it is. I used to be a stronger person, but I’m not feeling that way lately…

        Reply
  5. pithy_epigrams

    My family’s dynamic growing up wasn’t typical, as both my parents worked full time jobs, that were extremely emotionally and physically demanding. However, their relationship was also atypical as my father almost always cooks, and they clean the house equally, etc. I think this lifestyle has definitely transferred to my relationship with Shaun. He works full time, while I go to school full time. He cleans the apartment much more than I do. We tend to kind of divide the work and do what we prefer. He is never resentful of the fact that he works full time, while I am just a student. (Some people think this means I should do more around the house.) He’s a great guy, most of the time. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      I was curious about your experience growing up and what it meant in terms of those roles. What you say about being a student and people thinking you should do more around the house is interesting. I find that it’s just a more prevalent problem than we think- if you were the one working full time and also coming home and doing cleaning, etc., no one would bat an eye. I think it’s when a woman does less or equal to the man (or they see a man doing a less traditional job, like scrubbing a toilet) that people take notice- at least more than they would if it was a man doing less. Just a hypothesis.

      Reply
  6. unicorntapestry

    That was one of my favorites.
    Yours and Jeff’s is an awesome relationship. I love you, and I love him, and I love you two together.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      WE LOVE YOU! I wish I had seen you more on your visit, but I know we’ll make up for it next time (when I haven’t just had a baby that week…) 😉

      Reply
      1. unicorntapestry

        We definitely will. Next visit will be: keeping Asa from putting things in his mouth that shouldn’t be there. 🙂 I love seeing you guys no matter what’s going on.

        Reply
  7. decemberthirty

    This post is really interesting for me, since I think a lot about domesticity, gender roles, and how those traditional roles do and don’t show up in my same-sex relationship. I am, by nature, the more domestically inclined of the two of us: I do the cooking and, although we share housecleaning chores, I’m more often the one who knows what parts of the house most need attention. The difference is even more pronounced now that we’ve gotten to a point where my girlfriend works full time and I don’t.

    I really enjoy most of the domestic work that I do–cooking especially is something that I love–but many times I’ve found myself thinking, “Thank god I’m in a relationship with a woman!” I think I would find it much more difficult to accept the fact that I’m sitting there planning what to make for dinner when my partner gets home if that partner were a man. I’m certainly trying to criticize anyone else’s choices here–just saying it would be more difficult for me. But the interesting thing here, of course, is that it might be harder for me to step into that role, but the role itself would not be particularly different.

    Well, that’s interesting to me, at any rate–maybe not to anyone else! But I’m glad that you have made a partnership that works so well for you. 🙂

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      That is very interesting. Any idea why that is? Do you think, as a woman, your partner is better able to appreciate the work that you do?

      I’m also glad that you’ve found a good partnership. 🙂

      Reply
      1. decemberthirty

        Well, I think that may be part of it. As you say in your post, there is a seemingly widespread assumption (by men, but by women too) that the domestic work simply will be done by a woman, so perhaps the fact that we’re both female means that she’s a little more tuned in to what I do at home (than some men would be–not all, of course!)

        But really I think it has more to do with me than with anything she does or doesn’t do. Even though the work is the same no matter whether you’re with a man or a woman, I think my role would feel more traditionally “housewifely” to me if I were with a man, and that’s something I would struggle with. I don’t necessarily understand all the reasons why I would have a problem it (and again, I certainly don’t say this as a way of criticizing anyone else’s choices!), but it may come down to my parents. My mother stayed home while my father worked, and I think that most of the time while I was growing up she didn’t get much support around the house from him. He worked incredibly hard to maintain a small business, so I don’t want to belittle my father’s contributions, but I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him do a load of laundry in his life. (His mother definitely felt it was “just easier” to do things herself than to teach her sons to do chores and then nag them about it.) Anyway, my mother didn’t talk about this to us when we were kids, but now that I’m older I have a better understanding of the fact that she was often not that happy during my childhood. So I suspect that my concern about allowing myself to occupy a “housewife”-type role stems, at least in part, from my desire not to repeat the dynamic that existed between my parents while I was growing up.

        Reply
  8. ladyfaith3

    eek I am feeling kind of alone on your friend’s list here. Tim and I do keep traditional rolls. He works, I stay home, he is the “head” of the house and I do most all domestic chores raising the girls to also know how to run a home- but not forcing the idea that they have to. (they of course could work outside their homes and we talk about this often)Tim does cook sometimes but 90% of the time I do. I also do all most all the cleaning, home schooling and childcare. I am not unhappy in this role and feel that we both made this choice because it works best for us, and I really feel it’s good for the kids to have me at home. (fyi Tim does end up working 60+ hrs a week)

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      You are not alone! I am definitely the domestic goddess around here, and Jeff does work outside the home and do a lot of the carpentry/grunt work outside (especially this year as I wasn’t able to help him as much). My point was just that we’ve found a balance that really works for us, that we’ve agreed upon together. And, if I need him to make dinner because I’m too tired or just because, he does, because he loves me and wants to be of service. We both have our niches, but I guess I just hear far too often that the women in my life aren’t getting the help and support they need, and feel as though they’ve been thrust into that role because no one else (meaning their partner) will do it. They feel overwhelmed, unsatisfied, overworked, and resentful of a partner who refuses to empathize with them and chip in a little more. THAT is the problem that I see, not traditional roles, or the agreement that one person is more the “head of household”, etc. 🙂

      Reply
      1. ladyfaith3

        “I guess I just hear far too often that the women in my life aren’t getting the help and support they need, and feel as though they’ve been thrust into that role because no one else (meaning their partner) will do it. They feel overwhelmed, unsatisfied, overworked, and resentful of a partner who refuses to empathize with them and chip in a little more. THAT is the problem that I see, not traditional roles, or the agreement that one person is more the “head of household”, etc. :)”

        I can’t say that I always feel so great about being at home and “doing it all” Sometimes I agree and identify with the above quote from your reply. I end up frazzled sometimes and get tired of being inside the same walls day after day. I love my kids and this IS what I want but when I start to feel overwhelmed it’s usually when I make it known that “WE” need to leave the house and go do something for the day! TIm’s working so much lately I am struggling because we barely see eachother. I know he loves us and it will get easier soon. Tomorrow we’re going to the park and grill out with his Mother. It will be great for me and the kids. There’s a balance to each situation. I just found a website from a friend on FB it’s called “No Longer Quivering” to do with the antifeminist movement called “Quiverfull” My friend is a quiverfull mom, I am not and I can see where the site refuses to acknowledge the good of traditional roles for the sake of smearing EVERYONE rather than honestly pointing out the troubles or flaws of SOME. Anyway just thought it was interesting and I’d share.

        Reply
        1. Gracie (Post author)

          I wasn’t familiar with the term “quiverfull”, but now I’m googling all over the place! I’m definitely going to take a closer look at the “No Longer Quivering” site. I actually have quite a few friends who would probably fall under that category (anti-birth control, I mean), and they have beautiful, large families that I really enjoy. I have criticisms of those choices in terms of population/consumption issues, but I often find that those families are far more frugal and conserve more than some of the smaller families I know, so I try to reserve judgement. I do think we’re overpopulated, but it’s just not as simple as pointing the finger at people who have large families.
          I worry with the quiverfull movement. If those women are feeling genuinely happy and fulfilled in their role, then great. However, I suspect that there’s a good lot of them who feel somewhat trapped and physically burdened, and blame themselves for that feeling- being told their whole lives that they should be a certain kind of woman, and that not to be means separation from God, their children, their husbands… It could easily be dysfunctional and abusive, and keep women subdued because they fear they have hard hearts or are not loving or faithful enough, rather than just having different boundaries and goals for their lives. Just thinking…

          Also, I think it’s totally normal to sometimes feel overwhelmed or restless, but from what I’ve read it really sounds like you and Tim have good communication and you are pretty self-aware. I would guess that if you really wanted to go back to work, or have Tim help out a little more, etc., that you’d be able to figure something out. I don’t know, but that’s been my impression so far. You two seem to be content with your life and choices. 🙂

          Reply
          1. ladyfaith3

            Thank you, yes, Tim and I seeem to do well. I did go back to work for a while before but I missed Jorri so much!

            I would also like to point out that the site “No longer Quivering” absolutely paints the “worst case” senario for everything they claim. It’s not wrong to raise a daughter to remain pure and expect to be treated well by a man. It’s eventually up to the individual. I have not read most of the books they point at but I do follow the one they claimed the harshest No Greater Joy . I think that with any literature a person can go to some bizzare extremes but what I like the most about that particular one is the “amish” influenced lifestyle where one is content to have a little less and work hard, the children are included in every part of daily living and treated as valued members of the family who can contribute. (Like Jorri and Jabin loving to wash silverware at the sink)I really like their focus on living out what is “right.” The people who write the articles and literature are calvanists- which I am not so I don’t agree with everything they do and can intelligently decide what is right for my kids and myself.
            I didn’t have a good family life growing up and didn’t have a clue how to be a wife and mother from my childhood experiences- I’ve had to grow into it and learn from friends and others.
            I am sure that is where that super ugly comment came from on my blog a few weeks ago too- I had the link to the NGJ site posted in interests, but what is true of some is not true of everyone. No longer Quivering is set up by some ladies who are still very angry with their experiences. You know the Duggar family though and they are not horrible though the site tries very hard to find negative things to say abou them as well LOL. Let me know what you think. I have one friend who is expecting her 7th child and one who just had her 7th so this large family thing and the quiverfull movement interests me too but like I said, we’re not a quiverfull family 🙂

  9. shoeboxfaery

    sorry for the tl;dr comment

    i guess i am relatively new here…and i’m not sure how i got here in the first place. but i do love your WFP’s. and your garden.

    i have a fairly equal relationship with my partner (he works full time and i work part time and we have no children yet) but i want a more traditional role in my relationship with him…and he wants me to work in a career, because i am “wasting my brain.”

    i feel like i am pretty fully educated on my choices, since i was a sociology/womens studies major at university…but i love being at home and taking care of our home. he just sees a home as a giant storage container for all our stuff. so yes, this is a difficult post for me. interesting and actually helpful too.

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      Re: sorry for the tl;dr comment

      Thank you! Yeah, I’m not sure how we met, actually… but nice to meet you!

      That’s interesting what you say about your partner. In my decision to forgo a degree/career and stay at home mostly and homestead, I had to address some of my prejudice. Growing up in 2 towns, both homes to universities… well, it creates a culture in which a SAHM is just under appreciated. Thankfully there’s a movement afoot, and I think soon we’ll start to associate homesteading with educated, thoughtful people. Hopefully you can sway your partner and show him just how utilized your brain is in a role like that, and also just how respectable a job caring for the home really is. 🙂

      Reply
  10. moondaughter20

    What a lovely lovely picture of your sweeties! It made me tear up.
    Jeff sounds like a super guy, because he is THERE. It sounds like he is open and present and unaffected.

    You are right. It shouldn’t be a big thing that a guy is scrubbing a toilet. In fact, when I was living as male, I used to get annoyed and a bit confused when one of Carol’s friends would say something about me being special because I carry my weight.

    But I realized it was because men have been taught that they have privilege in this society and most of them avail themselves of it at some point. Women still do most of the work that keeps the world going around.

    Hope you get some moments of calm and regathering. I can’t imagine the level of activity and care in your life right now. I thought getting a new doggie was busy!

    Reply
    1. Gracie (Post author)

      You’re so sweet! I really love that picture, my friend gets such good ones when she comes to town each summer.

      I like the way that you put that- that men have privilege and it’s just a question of whether or not they take advantage. But it’s privilege none-the-less.

      I’m glad you’re having fun with your new doggie, even if it makes you busy. She’s got a good home with you. 🙂

      Reply

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