vendredi 31 mai 2013

I am a mum and a woman so I must:

I am a mum and a woman so I must:

Think about my baby first? Then about my husband. Make his life easy and happy, don't I?

Was it last century or is it still actual. I read the following article not so long ago. It was in French, but I found the original text (even if it may be a fake). I think what is important is not if it is a fake or not, but that it represents what was considered "the norm" last century.

Anyhow I thought, how lucky I was to be born now a days. That household tasks are shared between both partners. (yop husband & wife, husband & husband or wife & wife, small contribution to equality of rights, voted in France last month yeppeeee. This means even though I am writing as a woman and mum I hope you know I mean both parents when it applies)
So now a days, life is better. Tasks are shared between parents. We know both sexes can be good parents. We know dads and mums can change diapers, give the bath, clean clothes, give hugs, feed babies,... The only things men can't do are be pregnant, give birth and breast feed. Sorry to disappoint you guys.

My own experience:

In my couple we always shared things to do: food shopping, cleaning, laundry and cooking. There was no clear separation, mostly it was depending on the situation, who was coming home early, felt like cooking... We did not set rules or anything. We were both living on our own for several years before starting our life together. It was natural that things we used to do alone were now shared.
Then, I was sick for months, months before I got pregnant, and though I am better I am not healed yet. It meant I was in the beginning really tired and unable to help with household. My loved one on took on everything!!! Including making sure I ate, had food I like, enough hugs. It was difficult. Then I got pregnant, to make a story short because of my medications I was not supposed to be able to get pregnant. We wanted to become parents so we were overjoyed, it was happening! We were gone be mum and dad.
What scared me was: How can I be a mum for my baby if I can not even take care of myself? How will we be able to work as a family if Doudou has to do everything? Working, taking care of me and the baby? Thanks to the German system, Doudou was allowed to take up to 12 month of paternal leave to help us, with 67% of his salary. It saved us. Before Papoï was born we decided he would take 4 months full time with us, and then a month part time work. By then, if needed he would take more months.
So Papoï arrived and I got more energy than I thought. I was able to breast feed. :-) (We were not sure I could because of medications, and because of the energy it demands). It took all my energy in the first weeks. Doudou naturally did all the rest: diaper changes, bath, feeding me, ... My mum came for two weeks and helped us, she was awesome. With time I got better, and better : it means I am doing more and more. I would say that Papoï's related tasks are shared and household task are mostly on Doudou and I try to help when I can. I hope we go back on 50/50 soon. Time will tell.

As my grandma puts it: I am very lucky. "Don't let go of Doudou, a man like that you have to keep him".

I am even more lucky than I thought : I discovered that what I take for granted: equality of dad and mum is not the norm. It is not in many couples, it is not in society, it is not in the media...

I read on different blogs that Fathers don't always have it easy. (in French, by dads etre-papa-en-2013 by mums l'avis des mamans and this interview here -et-si-on-offrait-aux-hommes-loccasion-de-devenir-pere). They may need time to find their place as a dad. Mostly because, new mums can be highly attached to their newborn and find it difficult to let fathers do things. I find this really sad. It may be that because dads in many countries are going back to work after only a few days or weeks, the mums quickly have to deal with baby stuff alone. Mums kind of become experts and may think they know how to do things better. A solution would be whenever possible for dads to take their vacations at that time, or unpaid leave for a few weeks. If one can afford it, I think these first few weeks are priceless.
My cousin, did that, taking three months of unpaid vacation when his son was born. I think he will never regret it.
Then, at works it may be hard for men to take what should normal: parental leave. Their boss may not like it, or dads may have a hard time when they come back to work. This is unacceptable. (I know women often face this, but it is not better for men or?)

Then I read some more, I am not reading any parenting newspapers online and on paper. It is probably better I didn't. Otherwise I may have felt I am not a good mum, or a good wife. Believe it or not, those recommendations from 1950s... The one I thought outdated. There are not, or let's say they are more accurate then they should. (Here are two article in French Blog de je suis papa, les stéréotypes sexistes and famili et les stéréotypes sexistes). What do these say, they claim to address modern parents, both mums and dads. However, they are not, they mostly address mums and how mums have to face raising their kids with luck with some help from the dads. How Mums have to be beautiful for their husbands. Even if they are tired and unwell they should pretend to feel great and be sexy. Really? Mums are the one in charge of the kitchen, why? Do you know any cooking magazine addressing both men and women? And if the mums needs help, it is recommended they ask another woman: a friend, their mum or a babysitter. Why not their dad, a brother, or else? (Our best babysitter right now is a men, a colleague of Doudou, I trust him with our son without any fear at all). Moreover, some still think the place of the mum is at home not at work ( Here is an article explaining some think working women are a danger to children, marriage and society ôO are-female-breadwinners-anti-science)

It feels weird that mums and dads do not have more equal rights, and beyond that are not seen as equal in our societies. I think every family should take the time to think about itself. How is the family working? What is the role of both parents? Is the family happy, or can it be improved by sharing more, letting the other do more OR helping the other more?

A last story. About 10 years ago, our grand-mother had a broken leg and needed surgery. She was not allowed to place her foot on the ground for a month. Since, my grand-parents lived across from us, my mum cooked for two more and brought them food. Quickly my Grand-dad went to the market alone, bought stuff and cooked. I found him amazing, he was more than 80 year old, had never cooked but he started because his wife could not. Of course, my Grand-ma complained about it all along: How Grand-pa bought expensive food (like fish, or shrimp . That he bought beetroot and didn't know they were supposed to be peeled before having them in a salad. Well yes, he had to learned. My mum still helped with some meals, but Grand-dad must have done a great job since he and grand-ma did not starve. 

(This article is long enough, I will share my experience in West Germany another time)

Please, if you have any article on the subject in English, share it in comment. 

How is it for you? How do you share household tasks? and parenting tasks? Is it easy to find your place in the family?

En Edit:

Je ne suis pas la seule à trouver que l'égalité homme femme c'est possible, c'est normal et c'est bien: par Le Blog de Zhom!

T'a de la chance que ton mari t'aide autant par Sabine et associés

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