and since we got pregnant, i keep bumping into some complex issues that my mind is struggling to untangle.
it started when i shared with a group of women that i would be keeping my job and had to figure out how i was going to balance a newborn and working from home. and those women in the group who had kids told me that they didn't want to sound judgmental (always good when that's part of a conversation), and that they supported my decision no matter what (less reassuring when immediately after a disclaimer on judgmental-ness), but that it's really better to be a stay at home mom. hmmm...
and then this fall, i got hooked on the new show "up all night." and it was really neat to see a character that was very masculine taking care of a baby. and doing it well. that the joke wasn't how bad men are with kids, or how an effeminate man can become a nanny-husband. nope. just a normal professional (gender unimportant) who decided that staying home was more important than his/her career. huh.
and then i started talking with steve about the baby, and things pertaining to the baby. and i realized that while my husband embodies the modern man who is super masculine but also knows his way around a kitchen and isn't too proud to scrub a toilet or fold a sheet ... this man had gaps in his knowledge of babies. huh.
and over christmas, i was in new york, eating breakfast with a friend who had also recently relocated. we shared stories about finding a new church, and she shared that her biggest struggle with her new church was their stance on complementarianism. hmmm...
and then i read that APA journal article about how among the three groups (stay at home, part time employed, and full time employed), part time working mothers are happiest, show the greatest sensitivity to their children, are able to offer more educational opportunities to their children, and are better able to balance work / family. interesting...
and then i read an article in bloomberg businessweek about the gender role reversal happening in the business world ... how many high powered CEOs can't do it without a spouse who is willing to abandon their own careers to care for family and home. and how in the past few years, we've seen the rise of the female CEO, and the stay at home husband/dad who she couldn't do it without. huh.
and last week, john of young house love shared how he sometimes feels like being a working-at-home-dad is somehow inferior to being a work-outside-the-home-dad. really?...
it's seemed like everywhere i turned, there's another interesting view or example of this larger, but related, issue of family and gender roles and work/family choices. and a little bell would go off in my brain, and i'd set that tidbit aside, along with the others that seemed, somehow, to relate to how gender roles and family were taking shape and shifting in this current economy and culture. and with many of these situations, there's an emotive response ... whether it's a guilt that's felt, or a societal pressure, or an impassioned comment on the post, there is a lot of emotion wrapped up in family choices and gender roles. even when i've tried to step away from the emotion and just look at the data (i.e. looking at the APA article), someone always feels the need to personalize it and justify why they've made their decision, as if somehow the data is calling them a bad parent. or a bad example of their gender.
i'm just going to level with you guys, because if you're here, then you probably read on a regular basis and i think we've established a good enough relationship for me to just lay it out there...
...i think these are really important issues. in fact, i think they are issues that are shaping our generation. i think there are cultural shifts that no other generation has experienced. i think the economy plays a huge role. and i think that our own expectations and biases also play into all of this.
...and i want to explore these issues. screw that. i need to explore these issues. they've been gnawing at me pretty much since we first saw those two pink lines. and because writing and discussing has always helped me to process, i'm going to start talking about this. for me. for my family.
...and i'm not here to make judgment calls on what your family has decided, or what your beliefs are. i may express my opinion, but at the end of the day, unless i know you in real life, i have no idea what your circumstances are or why you chose them. (and let's get real--even if i do know you in real life, i probably don't know the whole story unless you've shared it with me).
so that's it. buckle in, because you're going to get to know me in a new and crazy way. and i apologize in advance.
UPDATED: so because this is going to be a series of posts as i wander down this rabbit hole of thought ... i decided that this initial post should be the landing place, and the place from which you can access all other posts relevant to this thought journey. below are links to the follow up posts that mark this journey...
gender roles, family, & work: where i'm coming from.
gender roles, family, & work: we still forget about the men.