Monday, August 15, 2011


I've been thinking a lot lately about the roles that B an I play in our family and how I feel about those roles. One of my favorite blogs, A Cup O Joe, ran a series a few weeks ago that featured lots of different working moms. I found what these women had to say really interesting and it got me thinking about the topic a bit. You can find the series here.

Five years ago, if you would have asked me what marriage and mothering would look like I absolutely would have told you that it would be me, home with children, filling all the traditional mom/wife roles, and my husband working to support our family. As it turns out, that is not the reality of our situation.

B and I both work full time. I work full time from home and B works from home 2-3 days a week and is in the office the other days. While he is the breadwinner for our family, we rely heavily on my job to provide affordable health insurance for our small family of three. If we were to switch to private health insurance or go onto B's work insurance plan we would barely be able to survive paycheck to paycheck. The fact that health insurance is completely unaffordable for a small family with double incomes is just more proof that the insurance industry in our country is borderline criminal and in need of some major change. I get fairly worked up when I talk about it. So we will leave that topic for another day {or not}.

I often feel overwhelmed with the sometimes hectic schedules that we have. A typical day for us usually consists of B getting up to workout at 5:30 am while I try to grab a few more precious hours of sleep since I usually have very late nights. C wakes up around 7:30 or 8 am. We do breakfast, work out, get dressed, run errands and try to fit in a fun activity here and there. C naps from 1:30-4 and this is when I really try to get some work done. However, if I'm up for having a late night I sometimes use this time to clean or relax. From 4-7 we cook dinner {or grab something fast if I'm being honest}, try to have some family time and get C ready for bed. She goes down around 8:30 and then from about 8:30 to anywhere from 11:30pm until 2am I work.

Because B and I both work full time we really have to share the parenting and household duties. We both cook, clean, change diapers, parent, do laundry, grocery shop and watch Ann Curry try and fail at successfully interviewing people on the Today Show.
For us, marriage and parenting is a partnership that is split straight down the middle. In many ways this is a great thing. I LOVE Brandon being home the majority of the time. I never get sick of having him around. I feel like I have a constant partner and for me that is a a very fabulous thing. However, deep down I feel a longing to have our roles be more traditionally divided. I would love to be able to clean and grocery shop and cook while he is at work and then have a hot meal ready for him when he gets home. That might sound old fashioned, however, I really wish that I could provide that for him and I often feel that it is missing in our home.

So while I know our situation is ideal and wonderful in many ways, I also see the areas where it lacks. I'm trying to think of creative ways for me to be a wife to my husband, not just for him but for me also. I need that separation in our roles.

I'd love to hear about the roles in your home whether they are traditional or not. In the end, I know that not one way is better than the other, and everyone is just doing their best. How is it at your house? Are you satisfied with the roles that you and your husband fill?


Barb @ getupandplay said...

What an interesting post, Andrea! I think there are two issues here, really: traditional work roles (housework/parenting work vs. career work) and how to support your spouse. For us, I'm a stay at home mom and John works full time out of the home so in that way we are "traditional". However, the way John feels loved and supported is not by having a home cooked meal at the end of the day. (He's often not hungry at dinnertime). So we have to come up with different ways to love and support each other, one of which is supporting his hobbies and interests (which usually means less husband/dad time for me and Charlie).

todd and erin said...

I am so glad you did this post! It makes me realize I'm not alone. Up until a week ago, I was a work-at-home mom with a husband who worked away from home 40 hours a week. It was tough but I lived 5 minutes away from plenty of family and babysitters if I got in a bind. We decided to make life even harder by moving to California, where we know no one so my husband could attend law school. He hasn't started yet, but I am nervous/anxious to see what our routine will be like. I refuse to go into more debt than we need to and must have my job for health care reasons as well. So I juggle working 40 hours a week, whenever I can fit it in and taking care of our 6-month-old. Our family is far from traditional and although I frequently wish I was a typical mom, it is kind of fun to watch my husband take on some of the more "motherly" roles. We wouldn't survive if we didn't split the housework. I oftentimes find myself thinking that it will be easier once he is done with school and I can HOPEFULLY stop working, but I'm sure life will be just as hard then. I just have to remember to enjoy each stage of life as much as I can.

Melissa said...

A lot of your thoughts in this post resonated with me. We don't have a traditional household either. All our married lives we have both been busy with work or school or other things that has forced us to developed the habit of sharing household duties. It is no different now with Thompson.

Sometimes I wish I was a perfectly traditional mom/wife, basking in the domestic bliss of an always clean house and folded laundry. But, I know that will never be me or our lives. Trevor will always be picking up my slack. I have never ironed a dress shirt for Trevor. Like never ever. But, like you, I know I am lucky to have a husband who is able and willing to not only iron his own shirts, but share in duties that are traditionally mine.

I like how you mentioned that you want to have a separation of roles not just for your husband, but for yourself. I often feel that way too. Even if the house isn't super clean, and Trevor is doing his own ironing, just being able to cook a meal makes me feel better. I think the key is finding a unique balance that works for you and your family and makes you the happiest. I think what that is is different for everyone, and I think what that is is different at different times in our lives too.

Melissa Stringham said...

Jack is in medical school, which means that he is often in the hospitAl 80-100 hours per week and we are in massive amounts of debt. It would be helpfulif I worked, but considering the hours he keeps i feel like it would betoo hard on our kids if I was gone full time too. If I could have a decent at home job I would be happy. But at times I feel almost like a single parent in that my husband can't be there to help me put the kids to bed or help with anything really. It is not ideal but I am glad it is temporary and glad I can stay home with them. When he is done with residency I dream of a "traditional" marriage where I stay home and he works but we get to parent together in the evenings and on the weekends.

Trav and Lizzie said...

GREAT post. I have such similar feelings. I know I have a student-husband so in our home, his schedule always changes. In the meantime, my job is our only financial consistency and it's really hard. I'd rather not have our family depend SO MUCH on my job, but I am so glad I have a job that can help us...

AND, I realize that our current situation is temporary (1 more year-ish). But then I think, will I always need to work? I just might have to work for a lot more years.

The dinner thing is a HUGE insecurity of mine. My husband likes to cook, and he is home most nights when I am not (cause I'm working, blah) so I come home to his home-cooked meals. I hate that. I wish it could be the opposite. What I am learning to be thankful for is that one of us is always around to get things accomplished. And I SO agree with you in that it's such sweet satisfaction to work as a team and to do it together.

Yay for our amazing husbands who step up to any role when needed. Love them.

Ty and Meg said...

I think it will be a life long journey trying to establish what roles you can both play in your family and marriage. I think it will be constantly changing.

Like several others who have commented I have a student-husband so his schedule is hit and miss at best. I am the sole income in our household, and I am grateful that we have been able to get through most of school without having to balance a child in the middle. I am constantly in awe of those who do it all. But I have had a hard time finding balance between being a full time out of the home worker and being the wife that I want to be. I agree that I would love to be able to have a nice clean house and a meal on the table when Tyler gets home at night, but that is just not feasible right now. We are both so exhausted at the end of the day that getting food in our stomachs at all is total success.

I am excited to see how everything will change when we graduate and again I am sure when we have children- and have to adjust our roles yet again. However, I think I will have to continue to work for quite awhile due to the large amount of tuition debt. I am grateful I have strong women who are working and being mothers and wives to look up to when my time comes. While I struggle to be the kind of wife I want to be, I know it is equally hard for Tyler to not have a paycheck to contribute. We both struggle at times because neither of us are totally in love with where we are right now (as far as roles in our home goes).

I don't know if there is such a thing anymore as traditional roles in the home. It is a different world than the one our parents and even we grew up in. As most other posters have said, I am unbelievably grateful for a husband who is always willing to pick up the slack when I need him too and that he is happy to eat whatever boxed, frozen, or multiple day old left-overs I throw at him. While I think we are both looking forward to some big changes in our routine- life is good and we are happy, which I think is what matters most. We would not trade this phase of our life for anything. We have grown and changed and learned together and definitely become a stronger and happier family.

Anne, Ryan, Emily and McCoy said...

I think that roles change throughout the different stages of life. When we were first married and we both worked (or were in school) the household duties were split pretty evenly. Once we had kids and I started staying at home full time the roles changed. Everyone's situation is different and sometimes people like having their roles untraditional. You just have to do what works for you and what makes you happy. I love that our roles are pretty traditional, but I do feel guilty sometimes about not making any financial contribution to our home. I'm saying this because I think that there will always be parts of your role where you feel you are lacking. We just can't do it all, but that's ok.

Marcus and Amy said...

Loved this post. Again you make me feel normal! Thanks for that. And thanks to the others that commented too!
When Marcus and I got married we agreed that our goal,(one day) was for me be a stay at home mom. We are still working toward that, but just this year, I wondered if it would ever really happen given the world we live in today and the cost of living.
His mom stayed at home until he was in highschool & mine always worked throughout my childhood. I saw the toll it took on my mom but also saw how awesome my parents worked together.
Anyway, right now Marc works 1/2 the day away from home. When he gets home, I work away from home the other half. Adeline is either w/ him or me. So grateful that we don't have to use daycare. Don't get me wrong, I know sometimes people don't have a choice, for me, its a blessing that we don't have to use it.
So we also split the duties/parenting. I have had many a breakdowns about this cause I also want to take on my role as a wife/mother. But in the end, I have to realize that this (hopefully) won't always be our life and am thankful for a husband that works together with me. And doesn't "expect" things of me. Whenever I can, I try to get as much done as I can and cook on the days that I can!
But I have to admit, there is nothing hotter and more attractive then seeing your husband take care/play and love your kids and cook a darn good meal! ;)

kalie said...

Oh my dear friend! We have discussed this at length so I won't bore you by repeating myself. But I just want to say this.

I love this post. I love that you are thinking through this and reaching out and taking ownership of your roles. I worry that I am preachy, which of course I never mean to be. I am super super super happy with the traditional roles we play but it would be silly to say that our situation is the only solution to marriage. I think your other reader comments about debt and husbands in school are very telling. It is interesting to see how people clear that hurdle.

And finally, it really must be said. I am 100% totally invested in my housework (which includes ironing--sorry Melissa!!!) but I actually LIKE doing those things. I am working on a post about my mom, who trained me to run a home. Certain things I do solely because I know that is what she would say I should do--not because my honey wants that.

Anyway. It looks as though I still have plenty to say about the subject. What I hear you saying is that you want to see your feminine influence in your home. I am excited to watch you tackle that.

Poor Ann. I love her but she really is terrible at her job.

BY THE WAY. YOUR HEADER!!! IS AWESOME. Teach me where to find that.

Aimee said...

I work from home too. The juggle is TRICKY and getting harder as Cash gets more and more busy.

I take him to a friend who is with him all day on Wednesdays when I do therapy and Scott has him on Saturday when I do therapy also. So most weeks I am working 6 days a week.

My stay-at-home job is flexible but still busy. There are times when work get neglected and times when Cash gets neglected. It is really hard and I have massive guilt most days but like you, we couldn't do it without my income.

Sometimes I wish for Scott to have a job that bring enough money for us to be comfortable and then I would want to do therapy 2 days a week and not on Saturday. That would be ideal. I think it is good for me to have some time away and good for Cash to have other caretakers. Scott and I always wish we could both work part-time and make ends meet.

We're crossing our fingers it is going to happen someday.

Until then I am just going to keep hanging in there :)

Good luck to you too.

{owens} said...

so, andrea, i totally LOVe reading your blog and you may not even remember me, it's ashley christensen (now owens) from high school. anyway, i HAD to comment on this topic. i totally know how you feel in that my husband and i both work full time. and i admit it's hard to feel like i'm meeting my expectations as a wife. but we both love that we get to spend quality time with our little boy and each other. and i have to say, my hubby is a great little housewife. there are a lot of days i come home and just want to crawl into his lap and forget work and house chores, but we both wouldn't change it because it allows us to have extra time (and money) to play together. does that make sense??