In college I wrote an overwrought and truly awful poem that I called something like 'The Gendered Division of Labor'. (I KNOW.) I blame the women's studies class I was taking at the time, and also the fact that I had just started a Very Important Relationship and maybe I was freaking out a tiny bit. While I had been "into" the Devastatingly Handsome Chinese Man for what felt like centuries, now we were dating and we were the sort who took dating super seriously and holy cow I don't want to get MARRIED?!
(I also wrote a poem about the time Phillip dug his chopsticks into my bowl of pho without asking first. Which made me feel like I was 1) the girlfriend whose boyfriend walked all over her and 2) wasn't supposed to ever appear in public finishing off her own food because girls aren't supposed to eat. Issues much? And when I got angry about it Phillip totally played the Culture Card and was all, "That's how Asian people eat! Family style!" which BALONEY PHILLIP, YOU JUST WANTED TO EAT MY PHO. And now? He always asks. And I never ever give my plate to the server before I have cleared it with him.)
I don't know where I got this idea that marriage was all Man In Charge and Wife Has Babies and Does The Laundry. I mean, the men in my family are their wives' biggest fans. It wasn't like I had bad examples of marriage, by far. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it, I think my fear was that once you got married you stopped getting to do what you want to do. I had some independent-ish ideas for post-college life and you couldn't do those things if you were DATING let alone MARRIED. GAH.
Obviously that all changed (got married at 23!) (stays home and has babies!) (totally loves it!) but all that stuff rushed back to me last night when I came home after a church meeting.
Well, it wasn't just the church meeting. First I'd left Jack with Phillip so I could see my doctor that afternoon. (1cm dilated! Baby not fully descended! But cervix very low (whatever the hell that means) and, according to my doctor a "very impressive!" exam! And yay, I am all about impressing the people in charge of me. But seriously, what does she mean by "impressive"?) ANYWAY. Jack was being sort of awful yesterday. Random crying jags, incessant whining, total freak outs when made to do something unreasonable, like putting his milk back in the fridge. Whatever. So Phillip was in charge in the afternoon and because I had to wait so long for my appointment, I didn't have a lot of time when I got back before my church meeting. Phillip would be doing dinner and bedtime on his own, but you know? I've done dinner and bedtime on my own plenty of times. He would be fine. I did not need to feel guilty for leaving Phillip with Jack. Right? RIGHT.
When I got home the remnants of dinner were all over the kitchen and table and high chair. Phillip was trying to finish up a work project and about ready to put his fist through the laptop screen. He threw out a, "Jack was HORRIBLE, didn't eat ANYTHING, cried the WHOLE TIME, I don't know what his DEAL IS, I put him down EARLY." And that's when I got angry.
I started slamming around the kitchen, loading the dishwasher, hand washing the big stuff. I cleaned up the table and high chair, all the while fuming that when I take care of Jack I also manage to pick up after him. He whines at ME all day long, but I can still put the food he doesn't eat back in the refrigerator so it doesn't spoil. I still wipe up the counters and pick up the peas that fall on the floor.
Phillip was so frustrated with Real Work and I was feeling like the wife who should have never asked her husband to take care of household things and I stomped upstairs to get away from the whole situation. I mean, this was it, right? This was the Division of Labor.
But really, I think I was mostly mad at the fact that I felt guilty. I wasn't really mad at Phillip. I know exactly how rough it is to deal with a kid who won't eat and won't calm down and you have no idea what's going on with him. And I rarely see him wanting to harm his beloved MacBook so I knew that just doubled his frustration. But I shouldn't feel guilty for asking him to watch Jack for an evening. I shouldn't worry when I go out with friends for a few hours on a Saturday. I shouldn't wonder if it's okay for me to ask Phillip to take care of Jack so I can get my hair cut or return something at Target.
He said as much when he came upstairs an hour later. But I laid there for another hour, wondering why I feel so guilty when I leave the two of them alone. It's not like Phillip can't handle it, or that he does a bad job. (He doesn't ALWAYS leave peas on the floor.) Is it just because I know how much I look forward to when he gets home from work? And having two of us on the weekends?
Then he asked me if he could go to this big gaming convention in town on Saturday and I said of course.
At Parenting today! The obligatory Can We Be Done With This Yet? pregnancy waaahhh.