My husband and I made an active choice when we had our third child: I would shift my career so that I could be the “on-site” parent during the week.
But in actual fact, this choice pre-dated my husband by about 3 decades. My mother was an educator, and encouraged me to find a career that would give me the flexibility to be there for my children outside of school hours — this was always in the back of my mind as a necessity.
When I read Cokie Roberts’ fabulous TK, she spoke of the “golden triangle” where there was no more than a 15 minute commute between home and work, work and school, school and home. Made a lot of sense to me, even as a single woman living in Brooklyn. And so I committed to it in my head.
However, that shifts our marital dynamic significantly; while we were earnings peers prior to children, his earnings have risen, while mine have, shall we say, restructured in line with my reduced hours.
And that works well for me — it’s a choice I made and I’m happy with it. I play with my children all afternoon, and am grateful that my husband has a good job with all-important benefits.
However, it has shifted the home and child-care responsibilities significantly. I’m on call for the doctors appointments, laundry, food, home repair (old home, there’s a lot of it), contractors…all that stuff. I make plans for the weekend, buy the birthday presents, organize our familial social life. I’m even class mom this year. I take on that stuff.
And again, I’m glad to do it.
However, it shifts the balance of responsibility and family social health maintenance to me. I didn’t knowingly take it on because I didn’t know that it existed. As a solo operator, making life choices happened. However, as the matriarch of this pod, I’m making social, economic and health decisions for 3 small ones, and often my husband too as it relates to our home and social lives.
And so, the typical debates arise: