Working out of the home has highlighted an amazing new development in my marriage that I thought I’d share with all of you. Now that I’m the one working out of the house, Dean has taken over the home duties. It’s not to say that he isn’t working – he is! But he is also picking up all the house spouse stuff, and he is SO much better at it all than I ever was. It’s actually in line with what we agreed when we first met. So let me take you on a trip through the past before I explain how awesome Dean is as a house spouse.
I’ve been lucky enough to be able to connect with moms from across South Africa and the world. Moms from countries where women are fully equal to men and moms from countries where they are still fighting for every ounce of recognition and appreciation. While almost every woman will assert that she loves her husband, that he is helpful and she couldn’t do it all without him, most are still frustrated by a lack of appreciation for all that they do. Even worse, some partners truly don’t even see what they do. So it’s time for us all put our foot down together, to claim what is our true role – we are the head of the household.
Now, let’s be clear here for a moment. If you’re familiar with American tax law, or just traditional family dynamics, you’ll know that men/husbands are typically considered the head of the household because it refers to the person who pays 50% or more of the household’s expenses. And yes, finances are important and can’t be downplayed – we all need money to live. Without someone earning the money, we wouldn’t have shelter, food, medical attention, education… the list goes on and on. But if money simply poured into a household, it still wouldn’t necessarily be allocated to the right places and life wouldn’t magically be organized for everyone. No, that’s the role of the real head of the household, the woman.
A year ago today, I was very pregnant, very uncomfortable and (unbeknownst to me) very sick. Tomorrow, we will celebrate Harley’s first birthday. It’s bizarre to think about, crazy to think back and wonder where the year went. I have so many things I want to write about her, how she’s changed and grown and all the rest to celebrate her birthday. But, on the anniversary of the last day I was a woman and not a mommy, I want to look back on all the ways a year of motherhood has changed me, but I think I can sum it up in one story.
Last night, I baked. This is a big thing for me, because I don’t normally bake. I’ve made the odd baking mix thing, and I’ve made cornbread/muffins from scratch, but I’m not one of those amazing women who knows how to whip up pancakes or scones or cakes or any other kind of baked goods. But, I knew I wanted a smash cake for Harley’s first birthday, and I wanted to be the one to make it for her, to introduce her to sugar and cake and all the rest. However, because I never bake otherwise, I figured I should test out the recipe I found so that her smash cake wouldn’t be a flop on the day. So, there I was last night, figuring out this whole baking thing, mixing and reading and wondering if I was getting it right. Harley started crying in the middle of it, so I was cracking eggs and measuring sugar while holding her on my hip. That, my friends, is motherhood.
Today is Women’s Day in South Africa. Last year, I wrote about it while pregnant, wondering how much equality there was in parenting. It was sort of a wondering blog, about feminism and parenting. I wondered just how much of the burden would be on me, just how much of the childcare would fall to me, and just how equal I could expect things to be even with the most loving and awesome husband. A year later, I have some answers, although I expect the answers will continue to change in the coming years.
So far, I do the lion’s share of the parenting. When Harley cries in the middle of the night, I’m always the one to take care of her. A big part of that is that I’ve got the boobs. I’m the only one in the marriage who is uniquely equipped to feed and soothe her. We tried the pumping thing, but once Harley started latching on the boob, she really and truly hated the bottle, so it simply isn’t a solution for us. But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some form of equality in how Dean and I handle things.
Harley is eight months old today. It’s actually amazing for me. I mean, I know time keeps marching on and all that jazz, but it’s just crazy to realize how fast it’s going, how much she is changing, and how much her changes are having an impact on me. It’s hard to believe how much my life has changed in such a short period. I knew things would be completely and irrevocably changed when she arrived, but I don’t think I realized how fast those transformations would come, and how profound they would be.
It seems crazy to think that eight months ago I nearly died. Eight months ago, Harley made her dramatic entrance into this world. Eight months ago, I became a mom. And with her changing so much with every day, here are eight things I love about my eight month old, exactly as she is right now.