On Parenting

Why You NEED to Take a Day Off (Hint: It’s not about self-care)

I just spent the afternoon listening to the legendary author and feminist Gloria Steinem.  Among the topics she addressed was the issue of democratic heterosexual households.  She argued that society has convinced us there are “male” qualities and “female” qualities.  However, when we realize that the “qualities necessary to raise children – patience, nurturing, attention to detail, empathy” – are HUMAN qualities, we’ll have taken the first step towards a democratic household.

Why don’t many men readily display these qualities?  She argues that it’s because they haven’t been given the opportunity to raise children.  Which brings me to my story.

My husband and I have what you’d call traditional gender roles.  He works outside the home; I work within it.  When we’re together on the weekends, I’m still on the clock: making the food, holding the limits, and managing the logistics, as I do during the week.  This is both convenient and devaluing to my husband.

I recently decided to step away from my home for 12 hours every Sunday, leaving my husband 100% in charge of the home, the children, and the schedule.  I’m launching a couple of projects and wanted time to work on them, but I also knew that I needed to give my kids and husband space to build their own relationship.

Is my husband thrilled about it?  The jury’s still out.  Is my absence pushing him out of his comfort zone and allowing him to become more organized, patient, and empathetic?  Yes.  Is he rocking it in his own way?  Absolutely.

Switching roles one day a week is helping both of us cultivate qualities that have lain dormant for a long time – qualities that make us more human, more whole.  And this is slowly but surely leading to a more equal partnership.

The road to true equality is long, rocky, and treacherous.  The archaic claws of tradition and enculturation threaten to pull us back at every turn.  But I’m strengthened by the words of Gloria Steinem, who reminds us that “women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal inside it.”

Women are not going to be equal outside the home until men are equal inside it.

3 thoughts on “Why You NEED to Take a Day Off (Hint: It’s not about self-care)”

  1. Hello young lady…I’m still reeling from the knowledge that you are out of the classroom….but I’m adjusting!! 😆 Chalk it up to my seasoned stature!
    My husband is 9 years older than me. When I married him, I fully “acquired” two precious little girls. We went on to have three more…all girls! Blessings every single one.
    Well, when he retired about 8 years ago, he began to have a full-time look at how little kid grow themselves!! 😆 He would remark about this milestone or the other, marveling MOST of the time.
    And it’s not that he wasn’t always hands on. When he wasn’t at work, he was at home.
    I was principally at home until daughter #5 went off to Montessori school (a school I founded BTW).
    I worked part-time for my husband when his admin. asst. went out for major surgery.
    I’ve since had a number of full and part-time jobs.
    Meanwhile, after 10 years of practice, my husband got a partner.
    That move freed him up to work a 48 on, 48 off, 72 on, etc., schedule. And that in turn gave him day time with our kids and eventually grandkids.
    BUT, it still didn’t afford him the perspective he gained upon full retirement and our full-time care of grandchild #9 (whose mother is an AMI primary directress & admin.)
    Those two became like Velcro. Of course they did.
    But what was so revealing was his constant amazement at this or that change, or new skill, or word, or, as I said before, milestone.
    And there was a side of me that felt sad that he hadn’t seen those very same things as our girls were growing up.
    Life was what it was. And I never once said, “look what you missed out on”. I would just nod my head in agreement with his amazement and obvious joy. ❤

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