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#1 of 9 Old 03-05-2016, 06:10 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Chat/parenting/relationships

On my pregnancy app, there's a bunch of women high horsing about the martyrdom ideal of motherhood (doing 100% of nighttime parenting, plus 100% of daytime parenting, etc. Because mother). Made me realize that my dh doing the lion's share of nighttime parenting is totally nontraditional. But it works for us (and the opposite really, really, really doesn't). What nontraditional things do you all do as mamas and partners? I figure on mothering.com we all gotta be paddling a little left of mainstream.

Mama to Isabel, 10/14/11, and Baby Boo-boo, due 7/8/16. Devoutly opposed to Mommy Wars, except the one where we are all Warrior Moms fighting for our babes together.
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#2 of 9 Old 03-05-2016, 02:42 PM
 
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Hmmm..... I guess this isn't something that I think about too often. One thing is that my DH mainly deals with the small kids in church. I just can't seem to deal with them calmly when they aren't quiet. He's totally cool with holding them for long periods of time and walking out with them if need be. Other than that I guess now that they aren't small we totally limit their technology usage. They don't use the internet very often and only play our wii occasionally for non-combative games.

I guess one weird thing is that none of my kids have had pacifiers even though I was not an exclusive bf-er. I just don't like them or the idea that they are often used to keep babies and children quiet. Babies need to communicate like everybody else...

We are weird, but not too crunchy (meaning we don't necessarily do things in a natural way all the time, although I do enjoy making my own granola... lol) so that's all I can think of right now.
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#3 of 9 Old 03-06-2016, 01:40 PM
 
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I think about this a lot. I was just at a reunion of sorts with a group of mothers on Friday night who I have known for give or take 10 years. I would say most if not all women in the room identify as feminists, we met through a hipMama group/people who were into the Ariel Gore books/zines. When the people who had husbands were telling stories about them, (typical husband stories: them not knowing what to do in terms of parenting and household chores, being well-meaning but clueless.) It seemed so common for everyone, I found myself thinking about how my relationship was very different from most people I knew.

My partner is incredibly hands on with all aspects of parenting and cooking, cleaning, etc. I also don't have to tell him what to do or how to do it, he gets it, or he figures it out. I think I would feel extremely frustrated and resentful if it were any other way, and actually, it is one of the biggest reasons why the relationship between my first-born's father and I didn't work out. When I met my now husband I was young, working full time single mom and putting myself through first massage school then college. Before we moved in together a few years later I outright told him that there was no way I could ever add another person to clean up after to my life, that he had to be an equal partner for all household duties. He must have taken that very seriously, because he has always made my life easier whenever possible. Right now things have shifted because I work (for pay) only part time, while he works full time and is a graduate student, but he still does a lot here at home and with parenting. He is pretty awesome.
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#4 of 9 Old 03-07-2016, 02:16 AM
 
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My husband has always been involved in my daughter's life but for parts of it he has suffered from depression and not been able to be as active as he wants to be. He usually collects her from preschool and he is also normally the parent to call if something happens during the day at preschool. We have equal contact with the teachers and both do meetings with the preschool but due to schedule I have taken more meetings than him. For parts of our daughter's first two years we were both at home (parental leave for me and unemployment for him) and then he took care of the diapers and I the breastfeeding and we shared the rest. This time he will not be at home the same way so I know I will have to take care of more of those things. On the other hand, this time we hope to be able to have him take parental leave and then he will be the only parent at home. Night time I have been the more active parent but now as our daughter is older and does not nurse back to sleep my husband takes more part in that as well. We have followed the strategy that a parent who cannot fulfill a need should try to get the child to the "right" parent and that this will create a security that the parents work together to help the child. My husband was scared that me nursing so much would create a better bond to me than to him but at about 18 months he started to really see the fruits of him being supportive of me and helping our daughter to nurse when she wanted to, she turned into daddy's girl and nothing I did except nursing was OK for about a year. After that it has been more even.

This time when my husband will most likely work at least some of the time we have discussed how he can help me by for example taking care of the baby when he comes home so I can shower and have some me-time. Also, that he will be responsible of all meals during the weekends so that I will not have to take care of that too when he is at home.

We are not the perfect couple who takes equal responsibility of everything and I fear we never will but we try to do little things to share parenting. My husband is still light years ahead of my father who was more the old fashioned type who said he "baby-sat" when he was taking care of his own children.
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#5 of 9 Old 03-08-2016, 09:09 AM
 
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We're an interesting mix of traditional and nontraditional. I personally like the idea of traditional relationships but it just isn't practical for us. Right now I work full time and bring in the vast majority of our income. I'm an RN and my partner works construction. After I have my 19 month old, he stayed home and I went back to work. It was rough on me because I had been a stay at home mom before, and I had little patience for him to figure out how to take care of an infant and manage a household at the same time. It really wasn't fair to him since she was his first experience with an infant, and I was hardly proficient with my first either. At the same time, I felt role conflict with having to work full time, I was working on bridging from my associates degree to my bachelors degree, doing 100% night time parenting, and often was still cooking dinner. He would have helped at nights but he is such a heavy sleeper and my mama instinct usually has me waking a minute or two before my babies anyway. The only reason I was cooking was because of him not knowing how to manage time. He was usually sitting down helping the kids with homework when I would get home so I would automatically jump into cooking. That lasted for about 8 months. Then he went back to work and I got a job with a better work schedule.

What makes it hard on him to accept non-traditional aspects of our relationship is that we are going to an uber-conservative church. They preach that men are supposed to be the breadwinners and women are supposed to be stay at home moms. Luckily that doesn't come up often and the preacher makes it clear that is his personal preference and not doctrine. It still rubs me the wrong way regardless.

I made it clear to my partner that while I may like traditional roles by choice, I was by no means a submissive person. I'm the kind of girl that walked away from an abusive relationship 6 months pregnant and with a 1 year old and infant in tow; put myself through nursing school as an unemployed single mother; started a career; bought my own house and car and set up a good life for myself and my children without the help of a partner. I wasn't about to blindly follow anything. He grew up with an overbearing father and mother that would jump at his every whim so he really didn't know what to do with me. Unfortunately he thought God would "Change" everything once we got married so its taken him a bit to realize that its okay that things aren't perfect. We've both learned to relax and realize that we have to do what works for us and tune out all the naysayers. Neither one of us our perfect, our relationship isn't perfect. We don't do everything 50/50 but we've become pretty fluid about who does what based on who has the time/energy. We're still learning to communicate and that has made the world of difference in getting things done without a lot of hurt feelings and self-pity for both of us.
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#6 of 9 Old 03-08-2016, 09:48 AM
 
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I find the automatic assumption of "traditional parenting" roles incredibly demeaning and insulting to men. Just as I find the automatic assumption of "traditional household" roles incredibly demeaning to women. If you choose to follow them, as a collaborative decision with what works for your family, that is completely different than "this is men's work" / "this is women's work"

My husband's penis does not prevent him from doing dishes, washing laundry or cleaning the bathroom. He does NOT "baby sit" our son, he takes care of him. (that one drives me up a wall!)

My vagina does not prevent me from doing electrical work, plumbing, installing windows or maintaining our furnace.

However, if you watch television, you will see insulting stereotypes on practically every commercial, sit-com and movie. Fathers who can't possibly learn to change a diaper. Women who can't fathom the incredible complexity of checking the oil in their car. etc etc etc.

I do all of the night time care because I breast feed on demand when we are in bed. I've heard repeatedly from people that they are "amazed my husband allows the baby in the bed." ALLOWS? Really? I missed the part where I had to get permission from him to do anything. Our son sleeps with us so that I get every possible minute of sleep that I can, the only way to do that is to have the nursing baby with arm's reach. That wouldn't work for some mothers, but it works for us, and I sure didn't get permission to do it.
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#7 of 9 Old 03-08-2016, 11:10 AM
 
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Originally Posted by PitBullMom View Post
I find the automatic assumption of "traditional parenting" roles incredibly demeaning and insulting to men.
Sorry to due date club crash but I love this topic! I totally agree with @PitBullMom ! My SO was a single dad for years before I came along because biomom dropped off the face of the planet when he returned from the Marines. He stepped up and took care of his daughter and always has so he knows all about changing diapers, different baby cries, swaddling, rocking, etc. etc. etc. I, on the other hand, have literally NEVER taken care of a baby. I've never changed a diaper, swaddled, or really even held a baby (maybe twice in my life and always for a VERY short amount of time). He knows how to do her hair and used to bathe her when she was little like any parent would but based on what you see on TV and what other people say you would think what he did and does is like the craziest thing a man can do!

In our relationship, I am definitely the discipliner and straight talker where he is the kiss-the-boo-boo and snuggler.

People get so caught up in putting on appearances and all I can say is, just do what works for you! At the end of the day, it's your family and not a contest or a TV show.


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#8 of 9 Old 03-08-2016, 06:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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@PitBullMom , I so agree. I cannot for a moment fathom someone telling me that they were amazed my husband "allowed" the baby into bed. I am not sure what I would do or say, but it would not be pretty. That blows my mind.

I had a hard enough time today when an OB friend on FB called me an "elderly gravida" on my birth announcement thread. !!! What the everloving fuck, pardon my language. I found it especially ironic given that kind of terminology is such an example of structural sexism in our medical establishment, and today is freaking international women's day.

I am a feminist. It took me having a daughter to really understand what that means. But the fact is that the research shows my husband making dinner every night will allow my daughters to think outside of gender roles and choose from a wider array of career possibilities. I was raised in a deeply sexist household, so I'm sure that I will continue to struggle to raise my children outside of given gender roles, but I am grateful to have a partner that values the same journey.

Mama to Isabel, 10/14/11, and Baby Boo-boo, due 7/8/16. Devoutly opposed to Mommy Wars, except the one where we are all Warrior Moms fighting for our babes together.
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#9 of 9 Old 03-09-2016, 10:12 AM
 
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I am very very fortunate that I was raised in a home without gender roles. And we are raising our son the same way.

I had as many Barbies as I had MatchBox cars. I had as many pairs of jeans as I did frilly dresses. My dad cooked and did dishes, and so did my mom.

My husband keeps our house running, I sure don't. I keep the lights on and the plumbing in good repair. Because old houses demand a certain temperament, and he doesn't have it. People roll their eyes at this, but I don't care. I find lack of gender roles FAR more "manly" than "I have penis so I can't mop floor."

My friend was responsible for changing litter boxes in her home through two pregnancies because "Brian would never do that" *insert eye roll here*

And AGAIN, in case I'm misunderstood, there are PLENTY of people who are very comfortable and happy with "traditional roles" in their homes. And that is FINE if that is what you decide as a couple. It is when those roles are imposed that I have a problem.
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