Sunday, October 06, 2013

Division of Labor

*Disclaimer: Jacob has read and signed off on this post.

I know couples in all walks of life, in all parts of the world must struggle with the "division of labor" in their household.  I'm thankful I live in the 21st century as I would have lasted about 60 seconds in the 1960s.

But I've realized that it doesn't matter how enlightened your marriage, raising kids and earning a living are taxing jobs, and that's when they stand alone.  When you add in the necessities: procuring food, preparing food, keeping a clean household, washing clothes...WASHING CLOTHES... and then the niceties on top of that, it gets a little insane.

Life's not always engaged-in-Hawaii perfect :)
Jacob is an amazing dad and husband.  In our kitchen, we cook and clean evenly (he's more of a chef, I'm more of a cook).  Bathtime and bedtime are also shared roles. He handles all of our big picture finances (investing, managing our accounts); I use to analyze our monthly spending.   But, it doesn't make sense for us to split everything.  We each have strengths: he is a master gardener: I know we have basil, but don't know which plant it is.  He takes care of all of our car issues; I went a year once without getting gas.  On the other hand, I'm the details queen. I know where everyone will be at all points of the week and I plan meals, tasks, pack bags, etc. to ensure we are all where we need to be with what we need.  Jacob gets stressed out just looking at our diaper bag (too many pockets.) I handle all laundry duties; I make breakfast.

More Hawaii-era love

So the reality is that we both contribute a lot to this family.  But I will admit I struggle with the equity of it all on a day to day basis.  I can go from a rational, calm, loving wife to a raging b...east if Jacob gets home at 6:45 instead of the 6:15 we'd "agreed" upon.  It's like we exist peaceably in our give-and-take, but when things get jarred, even by a minor incident, something that resembles resentment flares up and I start hashing things out.

Busy, but child-free Seattle life
For example, Jacob recently asked which days Cora goes to school...  I just stared at him.  And then I let loose.  How can you not know when she goes to school?  She is OUR child, not MY child.  Why should I be the only one thinking about where she is when.  In hindsight, I realize how yelling is only going to make him defensive and since neither of us backs down easily, a comment escalates into an argument.

With a cool head, I realize the problem is not with our division of labor.  We both do a lot; we are both great parents with our own parenting styles.  The problem is that we let ourselves get so swept up with everything going on in life that we aren't spending enough time interacting as friends/adults/a couple and so become these feisty co-parents, co-household CEOs, who feel the need to always emphasize our own contribution to the operation.

We're working on it.  Maybe we should take a page from these two:

Don't let the cuteness fool you - they're not always this sweet to each other :)

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