Being in an egalitarian marriage isnt enough to make up for this countrys scandalizing absence of support for women who parent

There’s a plaything stegosaurus in the middle of our dining room flooring. It’s been there for at the least a period. I’m looking at it as I write this, and it’s looking back at me, daring me to get up and throw it in the basket where it belongs. It was able to take two seconds. But the dinosaur knows I’m not going to move from this chair, because if I do I’ll start putting away coats strew over furniture, and then I’ll remember to start the dishwasher, and then before I know it I’ll have give-a-mouse-a-cookied an hour of peace while my partner is putting our two-year-old daughter to bed downstairs, and such articles won’t be any closer to done.

Being in an approximately same-sex wedlock- my partner, Charlie, is genderqueer- I occasionally seem a flicker of smugness when I see yet another survey on how straight men rely on their hapless collaborators to manage the day-to-day grind of running a household. But the schadenfreude is short-lived. Our divide of labor may be more equitable than that of heterosexual mothers, but equal doesn’t ever mean exhibition. Being their own families with two mamas- or a mom and a butch papa who made birth, in our case- simply means that twice as much people are being shortchanged by this country’s unconscionable lack of support for women who parent.


In hetero weddings, a major shortcoming seems to be that communication, at the least when it comes to household undertakings, is unidirectional- countless girls note that their husbands never do chores without being asked. I will acknowledge this is one place gay marriages kick ass up and down the block. You know that stereotype about lesbians and processing? When I tell you that Charlie and I have comprised hands and cried after differing about who are required to clean up the cat barf, please understand that, if anything, I am under-selling it.

As a fag couple, our marriage is an ongoing dialogue.( If you feel like I’m falsifying fag females, or exaggerating our love of processing, I hear you and your feelings are valid; let’s get a cup of herbal tea and talk it out .) Who is seeming burned out? Who needs something taken off their plate this week? What chores are hanging over our chiefs and emphasizing us out, and what do we each need to feel rejuvenated? In short, we are very intentional about the never-ending calculus of needs and resources that must be balanced to maintain our family’s stability.

But it doesn’t matter. In 2017, making a living, running a household, and elevating small children is too much work for two people, even if both are striving to pull their weight. Our age-old roommate moved out more than a year ago, and we still haven’t taken her disassembled couch frame out to the garage. There is never enough time to do all the things that need doing, even when you concur, as we did early on, that we can save ourselves from being annoyed by the house with the worst yard on the block if that mansion is ours.

By the time Charlie and I had been married a year and were discussing kids, I knew him well enough that I wasn’t surprised, as most people are, that it was willing to carry the pregnancy. I was a little surprised to learn myself announce that I wanted to work from home so I could be our children’ primary caregiver. The behavior my spouse and I split up the parenting work is informed by the fact that, somewhat unusually, members of the public who committed birth to our child is also the one with the very best job. (” Good chore” is, of course, relative- my partner makes above the median income for our nation, but we still wouldn’t be able to make ends meet without the additional fund I bring in freelancing .) That’s not often the example for straight couples.

In hetero households, it’s common for a couple’s” housework gap” to increase after they become parents: females typically take on the bulk of the cooking and clean during maternity benefits, and things never actually shift back toward congruity. Things have played out differently for us. As a freelance, I was used to being the one at home to start the laundry, and while Charlie recovered from a postpartum hemorrhage that left him anemic and exhausted, I became much more efficient at igniting French toast. These days, it’s my job to get up early and feed the felines because Charlie has already been up in the night to nurse our daughter.

Lindsay King-Miller:’ Maintaining a family above water on a single income is less and less feasible for any but the most privileged .’ Photograph: Courtesy Lindsay King-Miller

There’s still a gendered element to the way we share the work of parenting and household chores: I’m the femme in a butch/ femme relationship and I do a lot of the feminized household labor- I cleanse the cloth nappies, take out the garbage, and talk about definitely trying to vacuum sometime this week- though my partner does more of the cooking because he’s better at it. And yet, somehow, we’re both wearied all of the time.

Too many wives are still living in the mindset that if humankinds shouldered a reasonable proportion of the load, everything would be manageable and fine. And while straight men en masse need to get it together before their spouses only die of stress-related illness and left open with a fitted bed sheet that will never be folded properly again, parental burnout is actually a more permeating culture trouble than anything that can be solved with a heart-to-heart and a chore chart.

Between wage stagnation and the affordable housing crisis , not to mention the ridiculous cost of student loans( and God help us if we want our children to go to college someday ), maintaining their own families above water on a single income is less and less feasible for any but the most privileged. Sometimes I get tired of having a savings account a better balance between” how many kidneys does a person actually necessity ?” and contemplate getting a 9-to-5 occupation, but daycare can easily expensed more per week than I stimulated when last I operated full time. And while” hire a cleaner” might be the go-to advice for mamas too over-scheduled to do housework, it’s lane beyond the financial the capacities of most parents I know.

The answer is not just for men to take on more, although that’s a step in the right direction. The conversation cannot begin with:” How do we make sure everything there is get done ?” It has to start with:” In a day of rampant wealth gap and disappear social services, it can’t all to get out of here. What are our real their own priorities and what can we let go ?” Or, if you’re me:” How much of this mess can I shove into a guest room and closed the door ?”

Until a six-figure book deal falls into my lap, our family is learning the juggling act of moving the mess around to wherever it will be least in accordance with the rules. It still stings to compare our household with the ideals espoused by sitcoms and social media( there’s another whole essay in how Instagram and Pinterest are reviving seriously retrograde gender roles and standards ), but acknowledging that we’re never going to close that gap is the only way mothers can have any semblance of free time, project/ life balance, or emotional well-being. We need to demand less from ourselves and more from our society.

Lindsay King-Miller’s writing has appeared in Glamour, Bitch,,, and numerous other books. She lives in Denver with her partner, their daughter, and two very spoiled cats. She is the author of Ask a Queer Chick( Plume, 2016 ). You can follow her on Twitter @askaqueerchick .


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