Thursday, February 9, 2012

Washing dishes together and unconventional gender roles

P1300593We hook up the laptop to the speakers and set it all up behind the sink. I pull out our dish drainer, lay out the towels, and gather the baby dishes scattered throughout the living room. You run the hot water and the pomegranate dish soap. The Office or Downton Abbey entertains while you wash, methodically, more dishes than we really need to wash because you hate the dishwasher and say it doesn't clean well enough. By your side I dry and put away and then while you scrub the pans, I pick up toys.

This season is the first time in our marriage we've done the dishes together at night like this. At first we fought over household duties and then we solved that by assigning who was in charge of what, and I've been the dishwasher for ages now. You're the laundry guy because you're obsessive about how clothes are folded and if I was in charge of it you'd do it all over again anyways when I was done. For years we've been playing this tag team game, splitting up the duties at home while I worked full-time and you went through Seminary and worked part-time.

And then we had a baby, and when you have a baby the evangelical church expects mama to stay home and daddy to work. Whoops. In fact, since you graduated in December, we're not even playing tag team anymore. Oddly (for a guy that leans complementarian) you are currently a stay-at-home dad. I spend my days in meetings and in Outlook calendars and filing and running budgets and spreadsheets. You chase around a baby, make toddler-acceptable meals, put the books back on the shelf again, prep dinner, enjoy the giggles and calm the crying. It's what we have to do for now and I find myself over-explaining to people when they ask and yet....

I love this is a stage that we're doing. I love that you aren't humiliated by being at home, because this tells me that you will honor and respect me when I am the one at home. It signals that it is not less of a respectable thing, this caring for your home and family. I love that you are fully involved in parenting and Judah knows you just as much as he knows me, that you know how to change diapers and warm bottles and keep a grocery list and whip up lunch from nothing. I love that you are man enough to not feel personally challenged when your wife brings home the paycheck for a while, because you know you're capable and I'm capable and who makes the money isn't the point anyways.

Of course I wish I was home more, and I ache for more hours with Judah while he grows. You wish you were teaching, using the gifts and training you have. But if it was the other way around..... or rather when it's the other way around, I will ache to work and you will ache for the time with Judah. So for now, while we wait for things to unfold, this is how we do it, and it works, and we both gain and we both sacrifice.

It's not your dream or my dream, it's ours. We want to play our part in the mission of God in the world, and in this crazy journey of moving forward in that goal we keep swapping roles and and chores, and it's unconventional but all okay.

 And that's how we came to tonight, washing dishes together, side by side.

10 comments:

Lucy The Valiant said...

Oh, I love this! What a great guy!

Jaimie said...

As I writer, I'm really curious why you wrote this in 2nd person present. (Or "you write this in...") Not something you see stylistically a lot, not on a blog anyway. More in letters. It reads like a letter and makes me feel guilty and voyeuristic. /geek

Kacie said...

ummmm... not sure why? I think I've seen 2nd person present on blogs some recently so the style has been modeled and thus was easier to slip into.

Rach said...

Awesome. Jason and I have been doing this too, sort of, since he is working part time while in grad school and I am working part time with the most random of hours. And I LOVE it. In a way, I wish it could always be like this because we have lots of time together. But, things will probably change at some point and I think its great when spousal roles can evolve with that change.

Alysa said...

LOVE this post, Kace. Beautiful thoughts. Remember this day always!

Cash said...

This is how Annie and I work together too. Although, I'm not sure how it will work when we have kids. She definitely has a better paying job so I may get to stay home more at first too. What a healthy perspective you two have though?! Love it.

Kacie said...

Thanks Cash. I really do want to be home with Judah and we have to switch it out this year, but I want it selfishly, so that I can get more time with the little guy! :)

Ana O'Reilly said...

To me, it reads like a heartfelt tribute to a loving, caring husband.

Anonymous said...

Enjoying reading your blog Kacie (for the second time ever..have some catching up to do!)...but especially enjoyed this post so much as right now I am working and Mark is home with Kai. It's never what I would have pictured (and feel like I always have to explain) but has been a wonderful experience at the same time that's brought us closer. You expressed it well...I feel the same way! Nice to know you're doing the same thing. Enjoy your journey! Briana Bowden

Kacie said...

aww Briana. It has been too long! I wish we could get together and talk about life and marriage and motherhood!