My husband and I almost didn’t have a first date. Okay, that’s being a bit dramatic, but we really did almost reschedule. He had some car trouble, and since he wouldn’t be able to make the drive from Royal Oak to me in Ann Arbor, he offered to reschedule. I’m not one to turn down an adventure, so I offered to pick him up instead. He was a little hesitant at first (maybe he thought it was his role to do the picking-up on a first date). In the end I did the driving, and after the DIA and dinner at the Woodbridge Pub, we headed back to Royal Oak for drinks and to watch the Red Wings playoff game at Lilly’s Seafood.
That first date is pretty representative of how our relationship has been in the 5 years since. We both give a little and pitch-in to make things work, no matter what the expected gender roles might be. There are a number of things we both take equal responsibility for, like grocery shopping and the laundry, and we both contribute to our family’s expenses. I used to be the primary chef at home, but during my pregnancy he started taking on more of the cooking. There are things that I tend to manage, like sorting the mail, paying the bills, and preparing for the arrival of our daughter, and he takes the lead in caring for our dog and our cars. There are moments I’m embarrassed to admit how much of the maintenance and cleaning Brian takes on, not because he shouldn’t, but because I feel like as an equal partner in our relationship I should pitch-in even more (I don’t think I’ve ever cleaned our bathroom since we moved in together 4 years ago).
As our first Father’s Day is quickly approaching, I’ve been reflecting on Brian as a father and husband. When it comes to all areas of our lives, Brian wants equal “ownership” in responsibility and involvement, and I love that. What makes it even better is that he not only takes on equal responsibility for our home, he also gives equal weight and importance in our marriage to things that are important to me. This was most evident in the decision for us to move to Ann Arbor last summer to be closer to my new job. My career is as important as his, and he was willing to take on a longer commute so that I could pursue the job I love.
I knew when we got pregnant with our daughter Ziva that he would be a very involved dad. Knowing who he is as a husband, there was no doubt in my mind he would be just as hands-on and invested with our daughter. I’m not writing this to “humble-brag” about how “blessed I am for having such an amazing husband”. I also know he isn’t the first man in a relationship to “pitch-in” at home. What I really love about our relationship, and him, is that to him it isn’t pitching-in, helping me out, or any other sense that would imply that childcare and maintaining our household are actually my job as the woman of the home. He doesn’t see it that way. It’s OUR home, she’s OUR daughter, and we’re in this together. I think that’s sexy. And while all families function differently, our shared responsibility and nonconformity to gender stereotypes has made our relationship strong.
I’ll admit, there are things that I’ve found hard to share. When Ziva was brand new, there were times I didn’t want to share caring for her. I coveted every waking moment and was jealous of the smiles and coos he would receive during a 5 am diaper change. I’m the mom! Those are my rewards for carrying her and nursing her, right?! Nope. I’m learning to appreciate the sharing. Watching his relationship with Ziva grow each day, I can see how strong their bond is as a result of his involvement. If learning to share the rewards as well as the work is part of being a team, then sign me up!
I know our arrangement isn’t for everyone, but I’m glad our daughter will have him as a male role model, and I couldn’t ask for a better teammate in marriage and parenting.
Cheers to the dads who go all-in, step-up, and make marriage a team effort… and to the moms who share in the load.