There is a scrapbook layout at the end of this post. Promise. Two of them even.
Over the years, I have read countless articles about the state of feminism, women in the work place, women at home, women balancing work and home. I guess I read all those articles because pretty much my entire adult life has been spent married, working, and parenting. So, you know, they were articles that were related to me.
I also liked to read all those articles, because they allowed me to feel a little smug. All those articles often mentioned how even though women were earning more, and working more, they were still taking on more of the parenting and housework responsibilities. And, I was able to read those articles, smile, and say, "I don't fit into that category."
Because from the moment we were married, Dave has done the cooking. Sure, over the years, I eventually learned to fill in when he couldn't make dinner, or days where it just made sense for me to do it. But most of the time, I just come to the table. I, in turn, have cleaned up Dave's messes, which have been many. And just as I have learned to cook over the years, he has learned to clean up after himself a little better.
And, on the first night home from the hospital, with a scrawny, screaming, baby Max I really wanted to be the perfect, all knowing, ever calm, mother to soothe my crying newborn. But, while I knew that childbirth would be painful, I didn't know that for a good long while after childbirth, you still feel like you were hit by a truck, and kicked in the nuts, even though you don't have any nuts. Oh, and it turns out, I didn't really know what I was doing. And, I later learned, that even when you do know what you are doing, babies still cry, and sometimes that crying will make you wish that you were hit by a truck so that you can just lie in bed and recover. So, on that first night, after I fed Max, and changed him, and walked back and forth, and back and forth, and back and forth, and he still didn't stay asleep when I put him down, and everything hurt, Dave said, "You go to bed, I'll take over." I felt like a failure, but I also didn't think I could stand up for one more second. I even apologized to Dave for being a bad mother, and that he had to get up in the middle of the night. And, he said, "I'm pretty sure I'm also responsible for taking care of him."
So on that night, though I didn't want to, I handed over my baby to his father, and I had to admit, that I was not the all knowing, ever calm, soothing mother. And that was the best thing I have ever done. I certainly have spent plenty of time in the last 15 years feeling guilty for my mothering skills, but I can also admit, that I am not as bad at it as I sometimes think. More importantly, I don't have to be the perfect, because there is someone else to pick up my slack. I'm pretty sure my kids are better off for it.
And, as promised, there is a layout to go with this:
In my 15 years as a parent, and slightly fewer years as a preschool teacher (during which all different kinds of families have walked through my classroom doors), I have come to appreciate that being a mother doesn't mean always being the one to provide care, comfort, and stability for children, but to help make sure that they are being cared for and comforted by someone who loves them. It could be a grandparent, sibling, nanny, partner...any combination of loving adult humans can work.
Which reminds me of this layout that I made last year: