Helpful dads can hurt mom's self-esteem
Oh, this rang so true for me.
I make more money than Charles does, even with his overtime pay. My benefits are way better, too. Yet I still feel the sting of guilt when he has to take the kids to their doctor's appointments. I feel as though I have somehow failed when I am not there for them constantly, even though my husband is more than capable of attending to whatever they need while at the doctor's.
We have a more egalitarian marriage than most. My husband realizes that he truly does benefit by being involved with the girls and vice versa. It was not always like this...after Alexis was born, things were really bad for us. I almost left him. He was never home, I was responsible for EVERYTHING, on top of going to school. I still can't put my finger on exactly what happened to change...I got pregnant unexpectedly, then miscarried, then got pregnant again and had Gabe. Somehow, ironically, those things brought us closer.
Now my husband is more than willing to leave early to take the girls where they need to go. He gets outside and plays with them. His life in inundated with more estrogen than he knows what to do with. He will make dinner some nights, and is willing to help me clean if I ask. He has even gotten to the point of actually cleaning something without me asking him to do so first. I never dreamed that I would see the day when my big, burly husband would play tea party with our daughter. He truly has come a long way and I have the pictures to prove it (even if he won't admit that it would be OK for a man to wear make-up to Alexis...we have not overcome all cultural conditioning).
Where does this leave me in the scheme of things? Does my family not need me any more now? They are capable of functioning on their own without me. Why does this have to be a bad thing? It is certainly not, and is certainly freeing for me. However, I can sometimes almost feel the judgment from other people (mainly women) when I am not there for certain things. I can almost feel the contempt from people who think that I am putting a career in front of my kids. It is from other, external sources that my discomfort comes from. I am damn lucky to have a husband who acknowledges that there is always room for improvement on BOTH of our parts; who acknowledges that there IS more that he can do and that I DO do the bulk of chores and arranging of our lives. That is not imagined....even with him doing what he does I still do a lot. We are very happy in our lives, despite Elizabeth becoming a teenager and Alexis being a preschooler :p
When will society stop judging people on some pre-conceived notion of what SHOULD be and start judging people on what WORKS and what produces good outcomes?