Friday, August 19, 2011

Lazy?

Some call what I’m doing being lazy.  In all honesty, it’s hard for me not to see it the same way at times.  Here I am, perfectly capable of being employed at a highly skilled job, and yet, I’m not.  I’m not even looking.  It’s not that I’m not busy—I am—but I’m not generating any income for our family.  My lack of financial contribution leaves me searching to define my role outside of society’s values.

I’m also left wondering where I’ll be if anything were to happen to Henry.  I am uncomfortable being dependent on someone else in such a fundamental way.  As a unit, our situation is seamless (or as seamless as any partnership can be), but as individuals, Henry is better prepared to face the world alone.  Isn’t that part of what marriage is about though?  Trusting each other, depending on each other, supporting one another, even in the face of the unknown?

Others may argue that in an equal partnership both individuals contribute to all aspects of the household.  Two years ago a stumbled upon the website Equally Shared Parenting while doing graduate research and became fixated on the concept.  The premise is that each partner should participate equally in each of the four areas: breadwinning, child rearing, household responsibilities, and leisure time.  Henry and I discussed this model in depth at the time.  I was strongly in favor, but he had reservations.  He was concerned that he would have to compromise some of his career goals in order to make it work.  Since I have very few career ambitions, it is not a problem for me.  I agree with him that in order for the situation to work either both parents have to work and the child is in daycare, or both parents have to have incredibly flexible hours at their jobs (one person going in early, the other staying late, or working longer days and having a shorter work week).  I do not want to put my child in daycare*, which leaves us both having part time jobs or never seeing each other (if one parent is watching the child while the other works and both are working forty hours, it leaves little time for the whole family to be together).  All of this is to say that I find the concept fascinating and in a perfect world it would be how our family operated.  But we don't live in a perfect world, and in our situation, Henry loves his job that requires him to work standard hours, and I don’t have a clue what kind of job I want to have.  So for us, it makes sense for me to stay home (which I know I want to do) and for him to continue working the job he loves.  (And make no mistake, I have no doubt that Henry will be an incredibly involved and loving father, he just also cares deeply about the work he does.)

Am I worried that somewhere down the line I’m going to wish I had a traditional career?  Sometimes.  But that’s a risk I’m willing to take.  I’m not exactly the “climbing the career ladder” kind of gal and don’t think I ever will be.  Maybe that makes me lazy.  I like to think it means I contribute to our household in other ways.

*I see the value in daycare and I think it is a wonderful option for a lot of families.  It is simply not an option I want to use if I have the ability to stay home with my children.

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