For as long as I’ve been married, I’ve had kids. And for the majority of that time, both my husband and I have worked full time jobs.
If both parents are working, it stands to reason that both parents would equally share the other responsibilities of being a parent - including playing taxi, cooking dinner, helping with homework, and staying on top of the laundry. Right?
And yet… not so much.
Many times over the course of the last ten years, one of us has had to bear a larger brunt of the home front burden, despite the fact that we’re both working. There have been times when I was responsible for the morning and afternoon pickup as well as the majority of the household chores and making sure dinner was served on time. When one of the kids got sick, it was generally assumed that I would be the one to leave work early or not go in at all. If my son had to be at a sporting practice at a certain time, I was the one rearranging my work schedule to make it all work.
In my husband’s defense, there have been other times over the course of the same ten years when those roles have been flipped. I’m certainly not married to a man who is incapable of or unwilling to prepare a meal or run a load of laundry.
And yet, time and time again we find ourselves facing this imbalance in the responsibilities of “everything but work”. It’s almost as if one person’s job is more important than the other’s - or at least, that’s how it has felt.
Looking deeper, I realize that the person who made the most money at work was often given the most leniency when it came to parenting and at home duties, regardless of how many hours were worked. At other times, it was generally assumed that one person’s employer would be more understanding of family obligations - usually mine, because for some reason it seems understood that women in the workforce will have family obligations more often than men in the workforce, which is crazy if you think about the logistics of how babies are made.
I’ve seen a lot of this same imbalance among many of my friends. Although both parents are working fulltime (or more), there seems to be an unspoken rule that one parent’s job is somehow more important. Or perhaps I’m looking at it entirely wrong and the assumption is that one parent is simply more capable of balancing work and family than the other.
It may surprise you to know that I’m currently the parent with the “more important job”. At this point in time, I make more money than my husband does, and, while we share the pickup/drop off duties equally, he takes care of the majority of the household chores.
And I’m kind of thinking this is crap.
After all, we’re partners in this parenting/family gig, aren’t we?
Have you ever found that your spouse’s job seemed more important than yours - or vice versa? Have you found a way to better balance having two working parents in one household? I’m interested to hear your ideas and thoughts!
Photo by whiteafrican on Flickr.