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Tuesday, 6 November 2007

House Husband Heaven

This blog is all about being a mum of three and somehow holding down a job in publishing at the same time. Every now and then I mention a chap called Paul, who is my husband of thirteen years, and who has taken the route less travelled as a house husband, at first rather begrudgingly - for largely economic reasons rather than by personal choice - and latterly with a great deal of enthusiasm and dedication and energy and humility. It has undoubtedly been difficult for all of us living this reversal of traditional roles, and I think both of us have done our fair share of moaning, but it has also been rather wonderful. Our children have spent a great deal of time with their Dad, which is something many of us didn't get as children; I've been enabled to continue to follow a career that I love; Paul has learned how to cook (finally, at 50); I have forgotten how to use a washing machine (a liberation with which I am quite delighted), and through flexible working hours and a four day working week I still also manage to squeeze in a considerable amount of time with my kids while - just about - managing to continue to pay the mortgage. The challenge for Paul has been to find some work which he finds worthwhile and fun and which he can fit in around the need for him to manage the majority of the childcare. Last week he started just such a job, working part-time for a friend who runs a gardening business. You should have seen him on Friday morning as he virtually skipped down the drive in his work clothes. And later, when he returned home, all sweaty and muddy, he was so, so happy it nearly made me cry. It brought home to me how much he has sacrificed to stay at home with the children. Work can give you a sense of purpose and definition in the world. It is very empowering to be free to go and do work that you enjoy. Paul hasn't had that for quite a while, but he's given me the ability to go off to work unworried, knowing my children are in the best and safest hands they can be in. And now, just on Fridays when I am at home with the kids, he'll get a little slice of the same.

7 comments:

Stay at home dad said...

Interesting, I would view it as a sacrifice to be in the office. I suppose it is empowering to do whatever it is that's not expected of you.

elizabethm said...

Good for him - both in househusbanding and in the job. you both sound to have got it very right.

Lucy Diamond said...

Oh, what a lovely post! So glad your working partnership is going so well. Like you, we split the childcare/paid work and I think it's the perfect solution for everyone.
Good for you!

Jan said...

Great Partnership.
Lovely.
So GOOD to hear happy stuff...

Working Mum said...

SAHD: Ah, yes, it is *definitely* a sacrifice to be in the office. I promise you that is entirely clear to me. And I can't begin to tell you how lucky and privileged I really think you are to be the one who is at home. It's the most special role. But it is important also to see the positive side of all the different ways in which a family can be made up and can operate, if everyone has the right attitude. In our personal situation we have acknowledged that one of us has more earning power than the other and we've accepted the status quo. It's taken huge adjustments on both sides, and I simply wanted to celebrate that. Nothing is entirely black and white, is it? If there is one thing that angers me above all else it is the severe judgementalism that one seems to be expected to suffer the minute one becomes a parent. Barring the obvious no-no's, like beating your kids or leaving them at home to fend for themselves, there isn't a right way or a wrong way to parent, but there is a uniquely right way for every family. I truly believe that.

beta mum said...

We are about to swap roles in our house, as I'm going back to work full time for the first time in nearly nine years.
It will be a shock.
I will miss both children's Xmas shows for the first time, and there will doubtless be other such events I will miss over the coming years.
But I'm hoping the fact that their Dad will be there instead will mean they're happy, even if I'm in two minds about it all.
I'm looking forward to getting out of the house a bit more though!

Stay at home dad said...

Point taken, Working Mum. I think you struggle against stereotyping , as do I. One day...

Btw, I would be very interested in your husband's views on all this. Could he please start a blog, if he has time?!

Best wishes, Sahd.