I grew up in a traditional, albeit large, family. I am the middle child, with 3 older brothers and an older sister, and 3 younger sisters and a younger brother. My father was a Highway Patrol officer and my mother was the “stay at home mom”. I won’t say she didn’t work because that would be a total lie. Looking back, I see how the roles of my family followed those traditional descriptions. Man works, woman stays home. While that was more the norm, than not, back then, life evolves and roles change. Today you may find, in many homes, much the opposite.
After graduating from High School, I got a job. Like many 18 year olds, I was excited to move out and begin my life as an adult. Besides, I could use some extra space. As much as I love my family, it was a bit crowded. So began my venture into the grand unknown of adulthood.
Being on my own, though I did have roommates from time to time, I learned that I needed to take care of myself. When the hose on my car broke, I learned how to fix it. When the sink got stopped up or the lawn needed to be cut, traditionally a “man’s job” I did it. I was fully capable and willing to take care of it, so I did. When you are young and don’t have a lot of money, you get creative. I recall some people being surprised at my willingness to tackle some of the things I did. As though, somehow I was betraying my role.
Eventually, I met and married my husband; a man who grew up in a traditional, though small, 1 sister, family. My husbands father went to work, and his mother stayed home. That was the way things were done. That being said, my husband was not averse to being in the kitchen. In fact, at one point he had his own catering business.
After we got married, and settled into our daily life at home, it became quite clear our home would be a little non traditional. I shall admit that I am not a great cook, and because my dear husband is, he does all the cooking. I am allowed to make one or two things, but for the most part, he does the cooking. This means that he does the grocery shopping as well. Clearly non traditional.
One saturday, our dog happened to find a loose board in the fence and let himself out of the yard. After finding him and bringing him home, there was the matter of fixing the fence. We had 2 dogs, one his before we got married and one mine. The one that got out was mine, so it figures I would fix the board. I went into the garage and found the hammer and nails and went in the back to nail up the board. I remember walking into the house afterward, work gloves on, hammer in my hand, seeing my husband in the kitchen, dish towel hooked on his pocket to wipe his hands, mixing bowl on the counter. I asked ” what’s wrong with this picture?” He looked at me and shrugged. Nothing wrong at all.
I’m proud of our non traditional roles in our house. With 2 sons now, I think they see that it’s not the gender that dictates what you contribute to the house. Whether it is fixing a fence, cooking a meal, being the stay at home parent, or the one that works outside the home, WORK comes in different forms. Each person has their strength and together you find your balance.