Families are busier than ever these days, trying to juggle their kids’ education, extracurricular activities, maintaining a home, and spending quality time together. Thankfully it’s 2016 (well, basically 2017), and the roles of mother vs. father have evolved, allowing both parents to work hard and also rest when needed. A viral Facebook post by writer Dale Partridge is reflecting this sentiment perfectly — and let me tell you, women of the Internet are grateful for it.
“She spends all week serving me and the kids,” Partridge begins. “I spend all week serving the bills. Most men think it’s a fair trade, but I doubt it. Husbands, we are no more entitled to a restful weekend than our wives. The badge of ‘breadwinner’ doesn’t authorize us to escape our home duties come Saturday and Sunday. The luxury of rest is a gift many men steal from their wives each weekend. Remember, the 40-hour work week is a cultural standard, but God tells us to share our wive’s burdens and protect her from strain. It’s okay to rest, God even commands it, just make sure you’re not the only one doing it.”
And just like that, he speaks so many truths.
Our grandmothers (and possibly mothers) lived in a world where a hot meal was expected when Dad arrived home from work. The house was supposed to be clean and the children well behaved. His day was done the minute he walked in the door. Hers never ended. Often times the men were able to rest on weekends; mothers never had the chance, as the housework, cooking, cleaning, and tending to the children doesn’t stop on Saturdays and Sundays.
Many relationships and households today have embraced change. Husbands and wives have blurred the lines of responsibilities. In my house, for example, we both cook. We both clean up the house. We both grocery shop. We both give our kids baths and help with homework. During the week, we work hard at our respective jobs — his, in an office, mine, at our home. Some weekends, both of us get a chance to unwind a bit. Other weekends are too busy and we are running from sun up to sun down.
This cultural shift is, in part, due to changing family dynamics. While my household somewhat resembles the traditional working father/stay-at-home mother structure of the 1950s, many do not. In fact, according to the New York Times, four out of 10 American households with kids under age 18 now include a mother who is either the sole or primary earner. Also, a large majority of households financially supported by a woman are single-parent households. So between women focusing more on their careers, and the increase in single parent households, the old model of the wife cooking a turkey dinner in an apron at 5 PM is antiquated and unrealistic.
Also, the mindset of parenting as solely the mother’s role has shifted. According to a study by Pew Research Center, now more than ever, dads see their roles as father as central to their identity. They want to be more involved in their children’s lives, which causes them to be more hands-on. If they work full time, that means the hours of “rest” for dads of 50 years ago are now hours of parenting, assisting with homework, and practicing sports, music, or other activities for today’s dads.
There is also a movement spear-headed by well-know dads in social media such as Doyin Richards of Daddy Doin’ Work about the importance of dads “doing work” within the family. Images and stories of dads doing their daughters’ hair, changing diapers, and wearing their babies in carriers are popular on social media, as it is now becoming a positive thing to be hands-on dad. It seems that more dads are falling in line with Dale Partridge’s philosophy of being a husband and father. Now, the “man of the house” works alongside the “woman of the house,” in equal partnership.
I come from a long line of strong women who supported their husbands by serving them. I am proud of all of them and hope that they are proud of me too, even though my marriage looks different from theirs. My husband and I serve each other. We respect each other. We work together and we rest together.
Thank you to Dale Partridge for this post, and for sending the message that even though a man may work hard all week, he also realizes that “a woman’s work is never done.”