Equality and Sameness

Every morning I wake up between 7 and 8, whenever the baby gets up, and immediately need to be awake and alert so I can care for him. My husband is usually already at work, so the baby and I hang out. I feed him, he plays while I eat breakfast and watch Netflix, then he gets cranky and goes down for a nap. While he sleeps I shower and/or clean the house, usually with “NCIS” playing in the background. The baby wakes up, I feed him, I play with him, I clean or relax while he plays by himself, he gets grumpy, I rock him to sleep and then choose whether to do something or nothing while he naps. That cycle repeats two or three times before my husband gets home. He takes the baby while I make dinner (hash browns or tacos are our go-to meals) and then we either eat while he plays, or switch off holding the baby while the other eats. My husband does homework while I play with the baby, feed him one more time, and get him ready for bed. At 7:00 I’m free to do what I want, which usually consists of cleaning, catching up on bills and phone calls, or resting after an especially busy day. Around 8:30 my husband is done with the hard homework, and we watch “Parks and Recreation” together while he continues doing homework and I mess around on my phone. I usually go to bed first, falling asleep after we share a prayer and a kiss.

My husband gets up early, often before 6:00, to get ready and leave for work. He comes in and prays with me while I’m still nearly asleep, then he drives 20 minutes to his job as a back-end software engineer at a small company. Depending on how early he got to work, he gets home between 4 and 6. He kicks his shoes off, sits down for a minute, then takes the baby while I make dinner. We eat together, usually while watching a Studio C sketch or reading scriptures. He then starts on homework, working to finish his B.S. degree by the end of the year. After homework, “Parks and Recreation”, and praying with me, he stays up for an hour or two longer doing more homework, meditating, or cleaning so I’m pleasantly surprised in the morning.

We are very much a “traditional” family, and we like it that way. It’s not because it’s what’s expected of us, but because that’s how it works for us. I cook because I like it (and my husband never makes me cook), and because if he cooks, and I’m quoting him, “we would all die of starvation and/or food poisoning.” I do most of the cleaning because I have the time, and he is busy going to school and providing for me and our baby. When he cleans it isn’t a favor to me, or something that is special or “above and beyond”, but it is still a pleasant surprise to wake up and see one thing on my to do list for the day already done. I’m planning on going back to school soon, but it just isn’t working right now. It’s not because I’m “the wife”, but because I’m putting my focus elsewhere right now.

Not everything is traditional, either. I’m the one who introduced the baby to Otter Pops while my husband expressed concern about giving him too much sugar too early. I’m the one who mows the lawn and my husband is the one who makes the bed. We’ve made our niches in our family, and it works for us.

In our family, my husband and I are equal. I say, “I’ll have to ask my husband” just as often as he says, “I’ll have to ask my wife.” We both have asked the other about purchases and, together, decided no, and yes, and later. We have both done the dishes, run to the grocery store, and initiated sex. While we are equal in decision-making, in our relationship, and in every aspect of our lives, we are not the same.

I do more housework. My husband tends to do our accounting. He is the father. I am the mother. He is the one people talk to when we have issues with bills or accounts. I am the one people talk to about medical and health care questions. I can’t remember how much money we make each year and he can’t remember how much medicine our baby takes three times daily. My role as mother, wife, and housekeeper is no more or less important than his role as father, husband, and provider.

So much of politics today is trying to focus on making everyone the same, especially in feminism. Women shouldn’t just be equal to men, but be the same. They wear suits to prom, are encouraged to be tougher, and are discouraged from feminine activities like cooking and sewing. The thing I see is that differences make us stronger. If I was good at computers and bad at cooking just like my husband, we would own too many computers and eat too much take-out, which would cause severe health and financial problems.

That’s not to say that every man needs to be a computer genius and every woman a gourmet chef. I know plenty of relationships where the husband is the better cook or the wife is the engineer. The important thing is that we embrace our differences and see the equality that comes in loving, supporting, and depending on one another. We can and should be equal in all things, though it may not be equal every day and we may be equal while doing very different things.