I wish I could report…

February 1, 2007 at 12:33 am | Posted in AdoptThis!, Bringing Home the Bacon, Home, Sweet Home? | 23 Comments

…that things had miraculously improved since that last post.

I can’t. It seems we do not get January photos as the holiday photos we got in the end of December count for January. To which I stick out my tongue and and say phooey. How hard is it, honestly, to snap a bunch of digital photos of babies in a hogar?

It might be harder than I think, as we did get a photo from a visiting family, which, unfortunately, is very blurry and which I am not at all sure is actually a photo of my Guatebaby.

And apparently GAL, who has the unenviable position of running interference between the hogar and the chomping at the bit adoptive parents, has not been able to get January measurements from the folks in Guatemala.

Things at home continue to be, for lack of a better word, tense. I feel like even the cats are fighting more. I’m sure that we will pull through this as we have pulled through difficult stretches before. It really does help to hear that other people struggle with the two career/where to live issue as well.

I constantly question myself: am I holding onto my career dreams just because I wouldn’t know who I am/how to define myself without them? I don’t think so. When I’m at a job that’s a good fit for me, I know that I’m doing what I love. There’s a part of me that says I should just give up these hopes and do what would make life easiest for us as a unit. But why should I be the one to do that?

[This is where I start feeling like the chips are falling along traditional gender lines, with me the woman and Pili the man. And I will be damned if I will give into that tired old narrative.]

Recently I saw my DREAM JOB advertised. A high level position at an organization that I think is doing amazing and unique work – in the Big City Four+ Hours South. When Pili was playing the “soon-to-be-wed” game at her bachelorette party, her friends asked her what my dream job would be. And she answered, correctly, this position, at this organization. I thought about applying but decided that while the compromise we’ve come up with to allow me to take an interesting, career-advancing job in a better location (which will involve the moving and commuting alluded to to in the last post) is unpleasant and hard on Pili, this was simply impossible. Unless Pili was willing to leave her job, which she’s not. Rinse, lather, repeat.

So I’m curious: how do gender roles or your reactions to them (even in a same-gender relationship) shape the way you handle conflict and decision-making in your family?

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23 Comments »

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  1. I’m sorry that you are experiencing stress on several fronts. I hope you and Pili can work it out. It’s not fair that only one of you can have her dream job…

  2. Oh Art-sweet, I’m sorry.

    I know just how precious those photos and updates are.

    We (wifey and me) talk a lot about work and family. Currently I’m working and she’s home schooling the children. My dream would be for her to work and me to home school. And I know she’d miss teaching the children. She’d also love to be working and having more adult conversation and different challenges.

    With recent (non-diabetic) health challenges, she’s also fearful about me being unable to work and her not being able to find a job at short notice. So that weighs heavily.

    None of this stuff is easy. Thankfully she helps me to keep up the conversation.

    I hope that you and Pili can figure it out.

    Here’s a question for you (difficult one). Which is more important: the dream job and a strained relationship; or the less than dream job and a better relationship.

    Dream jobs always have downsides to them. Maybe you could find a way to morph your current one into a dreamier one?

    Hugs to both of you.

  3. First thing that came to mind. Health insurance. (Imagine that…)

    But seriously, for the first time in our marriage, I’m in a position where I have good job security because I’m doing a good job and I like the company. So, if G wants to go out and do IT contract work instead of working at big-national-company, he could. I think he still feels compelled to provide for me, as he will always make 2-3x more than I will. Granted, the health insurance situation at my company would suck up more money – but more money that he could be making at a contract position?

    And then I like what Bernard wrote in his last full paragraph, too.

  4. I wish I had an answer–but that’s something I ask myself, if not every day, then frequently.

  5. ((((Art)))) I’m thinking about you, as always. We are also contemplating a move for my career. Hang in there!

  6. you know, we really don’t fall into the gender stereotypes for the most part.

    (funny story: when A was little, he was in the car with his parents and announced out of the blue that only women should change diapers. his father stopped the car and told him to take it back!)

    so, A doesn’t watch football and he probably does more around the house than i do, and we share child care responsibility pretty evenly. but then things happen like Gatito has a checkup on Friday afternoon and *of course* it’s going to be me taking him. not that A wouldn’t if I really couldn’t, and if he had enough notice, but somehow taking him to the doctor and arranging for a new nanny and signing up for music class is ultimately my responsibility… though i guess it’s hard to definitely say this is because of gender lines (he always loads the dishwasher, for instance– isn’t that traditionally a woman’s job?) rather than simple division of labor.

    it’s complicated.

  7. I wish I could say that male/female gender roles play no role in our new-age partnership. But the simple fact is that he outearns me and he provides the health insurance. Therefore, like it or not, I’m placed in a more dependent role. Not that he struts around like lord of the manor or anything, but it’s a subtle undercurrent that influences a lot of things in this house. And it does influence how we fight too. I *could* switch directions in my life and outearn him, and I know that would change things. But whether it would be for the better, I’m not sure. I don’t think so.

  8. My husband and I fall into opposite roles for the most part. I am the breadwinner and we need to stay where I will make $$. However I have changed jobs every 2 yrs it seems since 1999 – so he provides the health insurance. (he’s been at his job for 5 or 6 yrs) He has contemplated a career change but we are not in a good enough financial situation to be taking any big risks.

    We have always said if I ever made enough, he’d be the one to be the stay-at-home parent. Which I have very mixed feelings about…

  9. We’re a bit topsy-turvy in the job department as well. I make considerably more money, and I also carry the health insurance, which over the last three years since we’ve been married has been used quite a bit by hubby. When K. comes home, my DH will be a SAHD, because he can quit his job fairly easily, and even find something PT to work from home. Do I looooove my job? Nope. I’d leave right now if I could. Could I make the salary I do now anywhere else? Probably not without a major move to a larger city or another state. I am excited that he is going to stay home, and a tad jealous as well. But the fact is, that based on what he does, and what I do, I will more often than not, be the bread winner. And, I am okay with that.

    Prior to this adoption rollercoaster, I was definitely the worrying, hand-wringing, and emotional one about everything. Now? Well, I don’t worry as much, and nary a tear has fallen since the first time I saw K’s face. DH? He weeps at commercials showing babies with their loving fathers. I have gone into what my family calls “Git R Done Mode” (yes, we are rednecks at heart, sadly). I just get through to the next phase and focus on that. When we hit PGN, where there’s nothing to focus on but the wait, well…then we’ll see how often my hands wring!

    Hang in there, Art! You’ll get going on this rollercoaster soon! And you and Pili WILL work through it because deep down, you love each other and anyone who reads you blog can tell that in a second. You WILL get through!!

    Now, I am going to tell Gia to point her magic finger your way for some pictures and updates!! 🙂

  10. Art, I think all couples have these types of issues. I will be praying that you and Pili can find that place of peace with your decision. Here is the thing. We as people, regardless of gender, seem to never be satisfied. You know the whole grass is always greener thing. At one point I had a dream job and made more money than my husband but I constantly caught myself thinking that I should be doing something with more meaning. I ended up contracting to work at home for my company so I could raise my kids. Then I was constantly feeling like I was not fulfilling my potential or that I needed outside atta boys. Now because of health issues we do this sideways dance where he is still able to work and provide insurance but I know at any moment I will need to step up and become the bread winner. I believe this is one of those areas of life, for both male and female, that we just aren’t satisfied until we choose to be.
    When I read your post,my thought was, it is not so much about the job as it is about you wanting to fulfill your needs to be successful. Sometimes in relationships, especially starting a family, we have to redefine success. You are an awesome person no matter where you work or what path you take. The decision should be made based on what is best for your family, sometimes that means sacrifice without resentment. I hope you find your way to the answer, just know you are not alone in the search. Big Hugs.

  11. it’s not about gender roles for us, it’s about who has the more flexible path, and who has the job that makes more money. As we look to make sacrifices for our family, Narda has the larger money making potential, and, truth be told, I’d make a better SAHM than she would. I may not like it, but if we had to have one of us “give up” on something, it would be me.

    As far as other gender roles, well, I fart more, like to watch sports and know how to use power tools more, but I’m also more maternal than Narda, and can cook. She can barely boil water without burning it.

    SO I guess I’m saying that it’s all, well, fluid, and not so set in stone.

  12. We are trapped in gender roles regarding who stays home & goes brain dead and who gets a break every day & is stimulated by tasks and human interaction. It is creating borderline agoraphobia for me. I don’t like it. I fought it and fought it and I lost.

    It is impossible to make any changes for the first six months after a kid comes home unless you get a really lucky break and are some kind of superhuman. At this point with #2 just around the corner, I am resigned and learning to cope and hoping that when they are both in school, I can either go back to school and/or re-enter the work world somehow.

    But I am not sure how we handle conflict has changed, just that conflict increases with financial stress, preadoption stress, post-adoption stress and you figure out how to manage it over time because you gotta. Something that makes me stop and ponder at times: we are completely absorbed in this child rearing task. What will we do, say to each other, fight about or bond over when the chickens are gone?

    I think PJ’s status as a former woman makes him resist coming home and hitting the couch, so he goes out of his way not to let the household chores fall on me just because I am home. Which makes a huge difference in my attitude toward the inequities.

    Life insurance has never seemed so important. If we lost our breadwinner we would be SO screwed.

    Sorry this is probably not bucking you up! But just sayin’ it’s never all loss or all gain, we learn to handle both because we haffa.

  13. Art – I am glad we had time to talk and I know that your decision was very hard to come by. I will miss you and Pili dearly, but it will just give us an excuse to travel and come visit won’t it? You both are wonderful friends to us and I can’t thank you enough for that. I do think that you are doing the right thing, but then you already know that. Cheryl is the breadwinner here and I chose to stay home with the girls. But it has to be something that you want to do because if you are forced into it, it doesn’t work. Your baby needs Moms who are happy and if staying home isn’t going to make you happy then you can’t do it. And you deserve to be working at a job where you not only feel valued, but feel as though you are giving something back and having fun while doing that. I know that things are rough, but I also know that you and Pili have a very strong relationship that can weather this. Parenthood pulls you in different directions and sometimes directions that we never thought we’d go! You know where I am anytime!

  14. Interesting topic…

    Right now my husband and I are pretty equally providing for our family. We both earn about the same, though he covers our health insurance (which is very good!) and contributes the max to his 401(k). I don’t have any paycheck deductions, so I’m bringing home a fair amount more. I’m finishing up grad school, and the best jobs for me are probably not in San Diego. Early on in our relationship, my hubby told me he’d move wherever I got a good job. The thing is, with our 17 year age difference (I’m younger), it makes sense for us to concentrate on my career, since I’ve got more of it ahead of me.

    These decisions are always difficult, but I think more and more the roles are interchangable. But, there are “typical, traditionally” roles that no one really wants to fall into.

    Good luck finding the solution that works for you guys!

  15. My husband outearns me 2-3x, but we’ve always moved wherever my job goes, because I’m an academic in a glutted job market and he works remotely for a company that doesn’t care where his computer is as long as he does his work. Recently, he got a fantastic job offer in San Francisco (a city we love and near family), but it would have meant I probably never would have had another tenure-track position. We declined. Now he’s hoping to retire by the age of 38, live on my salary, and find something he’s as passionate about as I am about my work. Much less about gender than passion, for us.

  16. I had years of infertility to contemplate familyhood and figure out how to structure ours, and I came to the controversial conclusion that the Cleaver Model was the best bet for our family. I left a career I was good at to work from home full-time and the H heads off to work each morning like Ward minus the suit and shiny shoes. I never thought this would be our life, but there are things that are important to me that wouldn’t allow me to continue in my career. For example, I want us to eat dinner together as a family most nights. For some reason that is a big deal to me. I don’t like a hectic life. I prefer calm. For these reasons and others, we live much like the 50s families we were raised to view as arcane.

    Best of luck to you. Things will come together somehow…

  17. Whoops, make that work from home part-time… very part-time…

  18. I’m sorry you’re going through all this muckiness, and I am also sorry I haven’t been commenting more. I’ve been reading, really I have.

    Uomo and I actually have a different problem in our household from what you describe in yours. See, I am pretty much on the career path I want, one that allows me time and opportunity to be creative both in the workplace and in my free time, and one that allows me to find a job in many different locations. Uomo on the other hand questions whether he is on the right path. As “liberated” as we both are (heh), he was raised with this idea crammed down his throat that he must be able to support a family. Even though we both know, logically, this is poppycock, it’s still there. So the way I see it, because I love his so, so much, is that I need to encourage him to think differently, think big, and take risks so that he gets closer to what makes him tick. And he in turn needs to try to overcome this notion of man=breadwinner so he can have the courage to make a change. We are both doing our part, I believe. By the same token, I expect him not only to support my decisions but to remind me that the sky is the limit and help me make plans to do the things that I love, plans that include him doing whatever needs to be done to keep our household running when I am out doing my do. He does so. I don’t think to myself, “Oh, it’s so great that I have a husband who is willing to wash dishes and change diapers,” nor does he ask for extra credit for this work. Sometimes I do more, sometimes he does more, we don’t keep a tally just because he’s a man and I’m a woman.

    I should also say that before the boys were born I was *sure* I would want to go back to work sooner than later. I didn’t even ponder it, I just knew it. That hasn’t turned out to be the case, to my shock. I like being with them, and though I will return part time in Sept. and full time the year after that, I would stay with them longer if I could. I don’t see that as a gender thing, just as a personal preference/discovery. Uomo has said that he’d like to stay with them too at some point. Right now the fact is that he has a high earning potential because I’m a lowly teacher and he’s not. I think when the boys are older and in school we’ll find a way for him to be the stay-at-home, “primary” parent for a while, if he still wants that.

    I do believe that ideas of gender and what we were raised to think do come into how we make decisions and resolve conflict; however, for our part, we try to be aware of where our ideas come from and free ourselves of those things the best we can. I think this process makes us stronger and truer to ourselves. On the other hand, we still relish *some* traditionally “manly” activities- like we like to sit on the couch together and belch over our beers while watching football. What can I say? We’re disgusting like that. (sorry for all this rambly rambling that probably hasn’t helped you one iota)

  19. My partner Shannon is often more the ‘man’ in our relationship because she has a career and is very driven and passionate about it. Thus I have veto power in our moves and life plans, but I don’t want to hold back her career.

    Once she starts on this career (still in school), she will be making much more money than me. I don’t mind this too much because we pool all our resources, but it took awhile to get used to this total sharing. We can both be secretive and posessive about money. I also do more stuff around the house because I do not have homework. I don’t forsee this getting any better once she’s working and on call 24 hours a day. Sometimes I get deeply resentful because I do work and have to do more chores, so fights flare up then.

    Mostly I am grateful that although we fall into gendered roles, we never stop renegotiating/talking about it. I do the laundry but it was never assumed by either of us that I would because of my sex. She’s going to bring home a bigger paycheck, but she does not have to stay in a hideous job just for that paycheck, you know? This is a minor but very important point.

  20. My wife and I have external gender roles clearly defined in that she’s way butcher and i’m way femmer looking. On top of that, I teach language arts and she works in computers. However we both do a variety of things in the home that balance those gender roles more. Still, I wonder if this becomes a chicken/egg phenomenon. Are these really prescribed activities based on gender roles, or are the roles based on what we do? It’s tricky.

  21. AS,
    It is amazing how stressful the waiting is. My biggest complaint throughout the adoption process was that the adoption agency folks seem clueless about how hard this is on the adopting parents. Not sharing info when they say they will, being stingy with pictures and info – it is maddening, literally maddening.
    Hang in there. Just because you haven’t heard anything doesn’t mean there’s something bad going on. That was hard for me to believe, my imagination was always in overdrive. Although it’s hard to be excited now, hopefully this upcoming trip will help the baby and your relationship to him seem more real, maybe take some of the stress away.

  22. We have “all over the map” gender roles in our house.

    As the biomom, while pregnant and nursing I got out of things like taking out the garbage and heavy lifting, and I’ve stayed mostly out of those chores since.

    But, I also earn more, and do 90% of the cooking and grocery shopping, 100% of electronics and “handyperson” house work, and probably 70% of the childcare. Jill does probably 80% of the laundry and cleaning, and pays the people who deal with our yardwork.

  23. When my partner and I began to contemplate having kids in earnest, I think we both had to first come around to the fact that having kids and being good parents meant that neither of us was going to be a super career-driven person. In some ways, this is easier for me since I already have tenure and I am in a market that, unless I drive myself beyond belief, I probably will always remain in the small liberal arts college setting that I now teach in. The only thing that would make me do this is getting a job closer to home (since I commute 5 hours a day to and from work, door to door). But otherwise I am pretty content: I like my job but don’t love it. Partner had a bit of a harder time since she is at an earlier stage in her career and is at a big-league firm. Her pay is less than mine (oh the joys of architecture), her hours are worse, but the projects are way cool and working really hard at it might lead to some degree of great attainment. This is what she gave up when she decided that we’d have kids. And I can say that, from the other end of things, now that our baby is a reality, even with the NICU nightmare, the loss of her twin, and everything else we’ve been through over the past year, it’s all been worth it….

    Hang in there Art-Sweet! This is all going to work out…


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