(I swear I’ve written this post before, but I can’t find it anywhere. Sorry if it all sounds old.)
When the Romgi and I got married, we were both startled to learn that I had some very…outdated notions on how life should be. For instance, until this summer I insisted quite strongly that while the Romgi’s responsibility was to go to work (or school) to provide for us, my responsibilities included just about every single other thing that goes on in our household. Cooking, cleaning, childcare, errands, menu planning, laundry, and basically allowing the Romgi to come home from work and find a pristine, happy home where he could relax. I know this sounds rather unequal from a modern point of view. On some level I’d still like to argue that having the women’s “domestic sphere” may simply be a different way of dividing things, not necessarily a wrong way. But that’s not what I want to get into right now.
While we were in North Carolina, I reached a breaking point. I blame the air mattress and out-of-control humidity (or maybe just pregnancy). I couldn’t fulfill all of my self-imposed responsibilities and retain any sort of sanity, energy, or happiness. I felt overwhelmed and, frankly, humiliated. I had three years of failed [personal] expectations weighing on me; I hated admitting that I wasn’t good enough to do all of the cooking, cleaning, childcare, errands, menu planning, and laundry. Not just to do them, but to be on top of those duties – to be in that constant state of fabled “togetherness” where life is under control and I never got frazzled or lost my temper.
(Are you amused? Or do you feel the same way, to some extent?)
I spent an evening sobbing (hormones. I blame hormones.) and explaining to the Romgi that I was sorry, but I couldn’t do everything. The Romgi patiently, as with all the other times we had the same conversation, explained that he didn’t expect me to do everything. He understood much better than I did that we have limits, as individuals, as spouses, and as parents. Somewhere in the discussion a light went on for me. I thought back to when the Romgi and I were both working full-time, the summer after he graduated. If we both put in 8 hours of (paid) work, it would seem odd – and unfair – for me to do all of the housework. So why did I assume that me looking after the kids for 8 hours while the Romgi was away didn’t count as work? Why put all the weight of doing the cooking, cleaning, childcare, errands, menu planning, and laundry on me? The Romgi said it wasn’t fair, and I finally agreed. He offered to completely take over the cooking (best deal ever) and we’d share the rest.
Lately we’ve been doing a LOT of sharing. The Romgi is at school during the day; I’m at school in the evening. It’s like we’re both working and trying to raise two kids. Yeah, we’re pretty crazy. Our house is slowly getting cleaner – a miracle, considering how busy I know we both feel. But it’s nice to have gotten over my “I must do everything, selflessly and uncomplainingly” ideology, and not be worried that I’m ruining the Romgi’s world by asking him to watch the kids, do some laundry, run some errands. In fact, life is more stressful than it ever has been before, but when you share the stress it really isn’t that bad. I’d even go so far as to say, my life is great.
Just thought I’d share.