“When our kids were born, for the first couple of weeks, I did more with them, and Marc did more of the other things. Then I started pumping and storing milk, so he could have the experience of bonding and feeding, ” says Amy. “There are ways around these issues. For example, Marc took two vacation days per week for those first few months, so he could have time alone with the baby. It became more equal once I went back to work.”
What About Stay-at-Home Parents?
Ah, yes. If one person’s job is to be the stay-at-home parent, there’s just no way to parent equally if one of you is, literally, the professional. All the same, consciously dividing your lives into those four domains helps because it separates parenting from housework–and honors the fact that both parents have needs in all four domains. Housework isn’t kid-work.
The Vachons add that even if one parent stays at home for a year or more, that doesn’t mean that he or she can’t retain some kind of professional training. “That could mean taking classes, networking or volunteering in their chosen field,” says Marc. “After five or six years, the intensity of that at-home parenting is going to diminish, and you’re going to want something you can go back to–so stay as fresh and plugged-in as you can.”
“Our society tends to say that being a nurturer is less valuable than being an earner,” adds Amy. “Obviously, we think that’s ridiculous, and society’s sort of redefining masculinity right now in response to that.”
Being Equal Means Not Being the Only Expert
In the end, one of you can’t be the “expert.” And that’s hard to get used to, especially as a woman.
After a lifetime of feeling like we’re second-best to men in so many ways–we earn 77 cents for every male dollar–it’s intoxicating to be the one who fixes everything with her magic touch. But giving up that “gatekeeper” role is absolutely essential in order to be an equal parent, and to give yourself a break.
Being the only one who your kid will allow to kiss her boo-boo? Feels good. The relief when your husband says, “Relax, I’ve got this.” Now that’s priceless.
Amy Keyishian moved from the most expensive city in the world–New York–to the other most expensive city in the world, San Francisco. She’s an expert at finding free, cheap and offbeat fun for herself and her kids–and she tries to make work fun as best she can.