I’m realizing how, in many ways, Joe and I have somehow switched gender roles with this whole having a baby thing. Especially when Joe was at home for a few months, I felt like an absentee father — Joe would give Darwin a bath on the weekend, and I’d realize I have no idea how hot the water should be, or If Darwin likes his little floaty toys or not, or whatever. I’ve still never given him a bath on my own, or cut his fingernails, even. Joe is so much more a baby person than I am, and knows what he’s doing, and takes the time to figure things out. I just kind of wing it and if the baby isn’t crying, score!. So, I’d come home from work, get a kiss from Joe, and immediately set about the task of feeding Darwin and getting him ready for bed, while Joe cooked dinner so that it would be ready when Darwin went down (which, by the way, I find a very creepy saying for “go to sleep.” You “put down” a horse. Not a baby. But, I digress), and we would eat what he cooked, he’d apologize if it wasn’t as tasty as he had hoped, and ask me about my day at work. It was all very Leave it to Beaver, only Joe was wearing the pearls. In a figurative sense. Pearls don’t go with his Asian complexion, really.
Even now that Joe is back at an office, we’re still kind of in this weird and kind of nice gray area, where he still mostly makes the dinners, I take out the trash and scrub the bathtub, and we both change the diapers. It really hit home to me when Mothers Day and our anniversary fell in quick succession. Joe gave me a really sweet Mothers Day gift — a hardcover printed, professional-looking book of Darwin photos called “Darwin Loves Mommy!” (love that MacBook and all the bells and whistles Apple offers!). Then, for our anniversary, I turned into a total guy, and completely forgot — no card, no nothing, not even a “happy anniversary” on the day of. Joe, on the other hand, got me some beautiful earrings, saying “Well, it’s our fifth anniversary, so I thought I should do something special.” Somehow, I had turned into some neglectful husband who needs an assistant to take the dry cleaning (seriously, I need to take the dry cleaning. Eeesh.) and to buy a spouse a gift for our anniversary. Oops. The nice thing is that Joe still IS a guy, and doesn’t take offense when I don’t remember these things.
Sometimes, I find myself longing for the simpler days of the 1950s, when I would have a clearly delineated role (“do everything, but never sweat or swear or complain”) that I would do all the time, instead of something that seems to morph every day (the Edith Bunker “goyles were goyles and men were men” reminiscence). But, I realize that I like this much better — I am able to define myself, rather than be defined, and I’m really glad that Joe is happy with that, too, and is also comfortable in the gray area. I don’t know how people can do it without those lines becoming blurred, how one person could be solely responsible for all finances, all discipline, all worrying about the mortgage and the car insurance and the scotch drinking, and one person could do all the cooking, cleaning and baby-rearing. I mean, I know it got done, but I just don’t know how. I’ll be interested to see how the pendulum swings balance out on women balancing family and career. I think that it’s becoming more do-able, as companies begin to realize it behooves them to make it easier for mothers to stay on as employees, but we’ve still got a long way, baby.
But, I will count my blessings, and go to the lactation room now, since I have to work a 13-hour day and Joe will be reading Goodnight Moon, and singing songs, and putting Darwin to bed. It’s a nice balance that we can do that.