Growing up, my mom drove just as much as my dad, including when the whole family went somewhere. My mom really likes to drive, and my dad had to drive all over the place for work, so everyone won that way. My dad pretty much always took the garbage to the curb, but my mom often took it out from the house. I mowed the lawn and washed the car at least as often as my brother. When I was 12 or 13, we needed to build a fence and gate, so I did it with some help from my dad. My brother liked helping when my dad did car stuff, unlike me, but I was called on to help with many of the building-related tasks. My mom probably cooked more often than my dad, but he did quite often, and I have many clear memories of both of them cleaning. My mom helped with the filing and lots of things for my dad’s business, and was almost exclusively a stay-at-home mom. She, consequently, did the majority of the regular cleaning tasks around the house. She also helped out at our schools quite a bit. On days when my school was cancelled for whatever reason or my dad had an appointment on a non-school day, he’d often take me along on his appointments. He also hoped that I would want to take over his insurance business someday, offering it to my brother only after I’d declined. I was also the child really encouraged to go to college, as it was more in line with my interests. I also liked that my parents let me study whatever I wanted to. I’ve met a lot of people whose parents required them to pick something career focused. I loved studying psychology and would have been miserable if my parents had insisted I become a nurse or a teacher.
All that to say that I really appreciated my parents’ flexible gender roles. Not to say they avoided them completely; my mom stayed at home with the kiddos and my dad worked, for goodness’ sake. They were just very good about setting expectations and assigning tasks with functionality in mind. I liked building things with my dad, and my brother liked helping my mom in the garden. I do think that broad, approximate gender roles are helpful in society, certainly. However, I think the most important thing is assigning people the tasks that are most appropriate for each situation. Sometimes, my dad did the dishes. Sometimes, my mom raked the leaves. And it worked out. Not to say it worked out, as we all know the end to that story. But I think their marriage lasted as long as it did in large part because of their commitment to flexibility. Anyway, I really like it, and flexibility in jobs has been a healthy model for Louis and me. I’m in grad school and working, while he’s only working. So, he is doing a lot more of the cleaning around the house right now. And it’s awesome.
I just figured out why the Atkins guy had the (terrible) idea to forbid eating bread. LISTENING TO SOMEONE CHEW BREAD CAN MAKE YOU LOSE YOUR MIND. Seriously. I go a tiny bit crazy when I’m around someone chewing bread in any form in a quiet room. Sick.